Spider Bite 2013
A week after I get back from the Dominican Republic …that next Friday night , I notice what feels like a pimple in the middle of my right thigh…I squeeze at it but it feels like one of those under the skin ones that get sore and red but never quite pimpalize. The next day I go for a hike , and I feel the soreness there, especially on the down slopes where your leg kind of takes the shock of the step , shaking the sore area into awakedness. By Sunday , I’m limping. I was asked to go for a walk by a friend and had to renege due to the pain. At this point the area is red and splotchy , feels hot to the touch and hard underneath the skin.
The next day I go to work ,I am now constantly aware of its presence, and the center of the wound has grown blackish and looks like it will soon burst. I share this news with some of the girls at work , explaining that I believe it is a spider bite based on the slow progression and predictable symptoms. The girls attempt to scare me into going to the Dr. , by threatening that my failure to do so may cost me my LEG!
Women! Such alarmists , scared of everything. I don’t listen to nanny nagsies. I’m a man , I’m tough stuff.
I leave work early to go the doctor.
Doctor looks at it and says , “yup…looks like a spider bite. You will just have to let it run its course, pussy.” (she didn’t say pussy , but I heard it in her tone) “Here is some anti-biotics.” ,”Do you want pain meds ?”
Me – nah , don’t need any , its just uncomfortable , not painful. Besides , I’m a man , I’m tough stuff. And I sure ain’t no pussy.
That night. 1 am , I can’t sleep , at all. My leg is throbbing , the whole thigh area is swollen and I cannot for one moment find peace enough to come close to drifting. Between the hot buzzy stinging of the now-open wound area and the inflamed muscles all around , I’m in agony. By 3am I am resigned to the fact that I will NOT be sleeping tonight , at all. I wail on Facebook as much. I stop trying to sleep and research online about what the fuck I’m going to be dealing with for the rest of my life (or a week or so) I read all the scary shit about spiders, and about brown recluses , especially. I’m probably going to lose my leg.
Ok, I didn’t think I was going to lose my leg , but I learned a lot about spiders. Ct mostly has only two poisonous spiders (though there was some conflicting info on hobo spiders being a possible third) If you get bit by a black widow you would feel the sting instantly and within an hour be cramped over in pain from the stomach area. Believe it or not, they are almost never fatal. The brown recluse bite is rarely fatal either. You never feel the initial bite but a few hours later you will feel what seems to be a pimple. It will eventually get hot , red and hard. At some point the bite area will blacken and possibly necrotize , rotting the flesh away. Some bites can go real deep and wide and take out major chunks of skin and some can just run its course and just leave a wound that with care will eventually heal. This matches my situation precisely. At around 5am , I dig up an article , by a doctor-researcher who had found anti-histamine therapy can be very effective in treating a recluse bite. I run out to the 24 hour walgreen to pick up some benadryl. Feels weird being out at that time in the AM totally sober. I get the benadryl and by 7ish , I finally fall asleep thanks to the effects of the drug. I wake up around noon, the surrounding area is less swollen and red , though the wound area is still just as nasty.
I call the doctor to take her up on her offer of drugs. I am told this is not possible without seeing her. “Grumble Grumble ..FINE!” , I say.We can give you an appointment the Tuesday after next ..say 3 o’clock. “Are you kidding me ! I am in pain , that’s why I want the meds, I can’t wait two weeks , I’m dying from a spider bite!” The uncaring receptionists says in a bored , irritated voice , “well just walk-in then”
I limp into the doctors office. Getting in and out of the car is a chore , so these errands are not at all fun. She sees me and looks at the wound and decides it has become infected. She needs to cut into it and allow it to drain all it’s nastiness.
CUT INTO IT ?! Did I not tell you I have been in agony and need painkillers and this was without having a knife sticking into the area.
I ask if this is common in a spider bite situation. She says for all she knows or cares , it could be an ingrown hair. All that matters is that it is an infection now and must be drained and treated.
An ingrown hair ! I don’t mind being wary of spiders from here on out but am I supposed to freak out about every effing hair on my body , now ? This lady is batty.
She proceeds to attempt to numb the area with lidocaine which requires sticking the surrounding area with a long needle and then releasing the stinging medication. This isn’t fun at all , but it is also absolutely useless on the inflamed skin other than to pierce it and wound it further. It is not the least numb in the area that requires it. She then takes her little napkin pouch of cutty ouchy tools and lays them on my crotch. “Seriously lady ?”
She then proceeds to cut , and slice , and stab ..(ok , she didn’t actually stab me) It felt like a hot knife being twisted around in there. I grit my teeth and squeezed and held the bed arms so hard that I pulled muscles in my back and neck. I felt like a civil war victim except I didn’t get the luxury of the pre-surgery whiskey gulpings.
She then stuffs the area with gauze strips , pushing it inside me with one of the strange cutty-pushy tools. Also quite painful. She gave me a scrip for Vicodin and told me to come back tomorrow with two of them in me and a driver. She may need to cut into it a little more.
A friend of mine offers to drive me. The next morning I confirm an appointment time for 12:15 and text my friend the alert and wait but get no reply. I eventually text back that I’m all set (meaning I will take myself) because my friend is notorious for being late and unreliable. I didn’t want to get that 12:10 text saying he’s on the way and then find I have to wait hours for the next appointment. So , a little loopy , as I don’t take pills very often , I drive to the doctor. Wheeeeee!!!
She again goes into her business of needle sticking and hot knife twisting and I , with 2 vicodin in me , react exactly as I did the day before. Writhing and spitting in agony. Only difference is my mouth is quite dry due to the meds.
She then stops and claims that there is nothing more that she can do, because there is more that needs to be cut out (there is quite a deep wide hole at this point) and I will have to go to the hospital and get knocked out for surgery. I’m ok with this at this point , but I want to go home first and get my things. I know once I’m in the hospital , I ain’t leaving soon. They would have none of this. I’ll have to go by ambulance. I cannot drive and I need to go straight to the hospital and not go home , at all. They tell me that I probably have a fever that is being held off by the drugs and I could collapse or die of sepsis when it wears off!! I have the doctors in my face , literally, she had her face 6-8 inches from me continuing her insistence on immediate action, as I frantically text and ring my friend off the hook. I call work to see if he’s been in touch there , no luck. He pulled a disappearing act. Typical. I attempt to get a ride from another friend but she doesn’t know CT very well and I’m too spent to give directions. I give phone to the assistant who spends 10 minutes repeating directions from every possible angle and you can tell that this is not going to work out well. I take the phone back and say forget it , I’ll take the freaking ambulance. This means I’m stuck in the shorts and t-shirt I’m in , (Is my underwear clean ?) no phone charger , no iPod , kindle , books , snacks etc;
I’m in the ambulance and sipping on my water and they realize this and take it away from me ! “You can’t drink , you might be having surgery.” I protest that my tongue is as dry as a cat’s but they tell me I could choke on the water during anesthesia and die. Quite alarmist these people are. May I note here , that the Dr’s were women as well as ambulance people. Just saying.
I am sent to Hartford ER despite my protests, as I wanted to go to Manchester as I know the ER is less crazy (ie; shootings and gang violence) and the hospital is relatively good as I also know from experience. (see Sickness 2012
I lose this argument too. I’m dropped off in the ER and there I stay. For hours. I can’t eat or drink and the meds have worn off , but not the dry mouth effect. I am informed that there are no beds at this time. Fucking Hartford. A doctor finally comes in , its now like 6:00 pm … He looks at the wound and says that they are going to put me on IV antibiotics and see how I respond before considering surgery.
Seriously , after 5 hours ?
“May I please have something to eat and drink then , please ?”
“Well we should have a bed for you soon and you can eat dinner then , unless you want something from the snack machine now.” the doctor says.
I decide to wait for dinner and a nurse gives me a some lukewarm tap water in a little dentist-spitty cup- thing.
At 8’clock I finally get in the room and they stick me with the IV antibiotics. I ask how do I order dinner and am informed that dinner was at 6:30 and would I like something from the snack machine. Agghhh!!!!
They scare me up a dry turkey with nothing sandwich that I choke down. Then I commence with doing nothing for the next four days.
To be continued….
The nothing for the next four days I was describing was not totally nothing ; just worth nothing and in the end , essentially nothing went on of any consequence. Shit , I should have just ended the story before …what the hell did I want to continue for ?
Well, I should let people know that my leg did not fall off.
It may also be of interest to note those moments of pure boredom that transcended any other tedium of recent memory. The T.V didn’t work right and was tiny and in an awkward position. My phone was dying. I had no music , no books or anything else to do but stare at the wall. I attempted sleep on a number of occasions but was too uncomfortable to have any real success. I have the ability to lose myself in my mind on occasion. I wrote this in my mind at the time and have since recreated it here in perfect form. But that only entertained me for a few hours. Boredom, manifest in as pure and oppressive a form as I was experiencing, can bend time as much as a black hole. Seemingly Interminable spans of time passed between each tick of the clock. It wasn’t all bad, intermittently there were some exciting lightning strikes and bouts of loud heavy downpours. Unfortunately , that too became tedious as we received a record amount of rain (7 inches) over the next few days. The view from the window was the same wet grey for days on end.
Eventually I did get things picked up from my house and dropped off for me thanks to some wonderful friends. It’s difficult describing to someone where some particular item may currently reside in a home. “Ok , its in the hallway , no not that one the other one …by the door …not that door the back door , yeah … there is a bag by that table and …oh …how many bags do you see ? ” etc; ad nauseum. I especially had a difficult time facilitating the retrieval of my comfy headphones and was stuck with the buds in a box, that were apparently somewhere nowhere near where I described, but were found nonetheless.
I highlight the ear buds here for a reason. I was really looking forward to listening to music as I can sleep with it , read with it , whistle , sing …. I couldn’t dance due to my leg but I could pull off a pretty mean head bop with no ill effects. In other words, an almost unending list of entertaining enterprises was open to me.
But I have a problem. It’s embarrassing to admit , but my ears are put on funny. They apparently do not have the proper proportions to admit and secure an ear bud. Try as I might , as I pop one in , the other pops out. I literally need to grind and twist these evil fuckers deep into my ear in order for them to stay for any fair amount of time. Eventually they worm their way out as if offended by my mis-proportioned ears. That leaves out many of the amusements I was looking forward to. Head bopping was out. I couldn’t sleep on any particular side unless I smooshed my head into the pillow, pinning the slippery bud in as close to a useful angle as possible , allowing it to emit sound into my ear or at least the surrounding cartilage. Even whistling and singing , believe it or not, builds just a slight enough amount of inner ear pressure to shoot the infernal objects out of my head. My ears were eventually so sore from these baneful buds that I decided that background t.v noise was gonna just have to do.
All the while , It was forefront in my mind why I was suffering these indignities. Its because my friend did not drive me to the doctors. If he did , I wouldn’t have been so unprepared and empty handed for this hospital stay. It got to the point where I could think of little else. More on that later.
I was slowly improving over this period and was well attended to by the various hospital staff. They still weren’t quite sure how bad or how deep or bad the infection was until they got more test results back , but the swelling was way down and I wasn’t in any real pain until…….
Dr. Young Slick comes in and decides he wants to get a good look at things and pulls out his own special supply of cutty ouchy tools- Hospital Grade. There were twice as many instruments and twice the size of the doctors. I explain that I have no meds in me and besides, I have a cat scan scheduled in a few hours so they can ‘get a good look at things’ a lot less intrusively. He tells me not to worry. He’s gonna numb the area with lidocaine. “Do you know what that is ?” I want to punch him in the mouth. After 10-15 minutes of torturing me he decided he had enough. He lined up a nurse to pump me full of meds and he would come back and complete the torture session to his satisfaction.
Mean nurse comes in and pumps me with a full 2mg of some ‘make you feel instantly shitty and pukey meds’ right into my IV. She didn’t drip it , just pushed it all in one fell swoop because the Doctor was in a hurry. She cleans and covers the wound area. He comes back 20 minutes later and looks at it and then decides that he doesn’t need to do any more and that we’ll just wait for the results of the cat scan !! My head is pounding from the shit they gave me and the hospital bed ride to the scan felt like I was on a roller coaster. Sure enough , as soon as I got back from the scan I puked my guts up. I had a headache for 2 days from this shit. I was scheduled in the AM for new wound dressing so nice nurse ordered me .5 mg and have it pumped it over 10 minutes , the way it should be administered Dr. Slick….yeah , He’s a dick.
Finally I am to be released. My buddy coordinates getting my Subaru Forester home, which is still at the doctors, by bringing his wife to the vehicle before leaving to pick me up. Luckily my car is still there , but unfortunately I left my very large moon roof open that entire time! This didn’t immediately come apparent to my friend until she sat down , compressing the seat like a squeezed sponge and absorbing the voluminous amount of released water with her jeans , underwear and blouse. This is my damn unreliable friends fault !!! I’m still dealing with the ramifications of his blow off!! There was a RECORD amount of rainfall during that period and most of it was in my car. My car was so filled with water it loudly sloshed around turns. If I turned quick , I could feel the ensuing tide affect the drive-ability as I would if caught in a windstorm on a highway. I had to wet vac the whole thing and air it out for days. I bought a dozen baking soda boxes from the grocery store (I think they thought I was a crack addict) and scattered them throughout the car to soak up the moisture and aid in odor control. One of the days I forgot to keep the windows open and the car fogged up as if a troupe of newlyweds spent an amorous evening in it.
It took a few more weeks for my wound to fully close up but It did. It healed from the inside out so it remained ‘open’ right up until the end. I still have a scar to commemorate my battles. I have a few gory pictures that I am happy to share with any interested voyeur. Just ask. I have since forgiven my friend who dissed me , despite the fact that he made pretend that he got my ‘I’m all set text’ and claimed that’s why he didn’t pick me up. (or call or text or show up for work or pick up my dozen phone calls/texts after that one- uh huh) Forgiveness is best given out of love , but occasionally , self interest will have to do.