The Not-So Itsy Bitsy Spider Bite
One week ago I woke up to what appeared to be a bug bite on the back of my right rib cage, just out of sight and line of vision. In Florida bug bites are a common occurrence, and so I assumed the same thing happened in California. I made note of the bite, took a picture, and then chalked it up to being no big deal. The very next morning, the red spot appeared swollen and still irritated. Again, I didn’t think too much of it because I’ve suffered many mosquito bites, among other strange unexplainable markings that have had similar reactions. And never have I needed medical attention for such bites. So I took another picture, asked Cory to keep an eye on it and check it every couple hours. According to his examination, the swelling appeared to be disappearing as the day progressed and the bite seemed to be improving.
By Day 5 I stopped inquiring about the bite completely. Based on the descriptions overheard the wound seemed well on its way to being healed, and the only reminders left were three little marks (which I assumed were teeth/fang marks). I thought about what type of creature could have possibly bit me, and scared myself silly with all kinds of questions and scenarios. Was it a spider? Ugh. I hate spiders. When did it happen? Was it while I was sleeping? Is the insect still in my bed (I immediately washed the sheets after day 1)? It was when I started picturing images of baby spiders running out of an open wound that I eventually forced myself to stop thinking such thoughts. Not only was I grossing myself out but, I had to remind myself it was a problem that couldn’t be helped. The bite happened. And now my disgusting imagery and me needed to move forward.
And then I woke up on Day 7.
Over night, somehow, the bite marks grew from three reddish dots to something quite frightful. Among a quarter-sized area that looked black and bluish, like a bruise, the three dots were now black and much larger than ever before. Around the bite, my skin once again was red and swollen, as if begging for medical attention. So I decided it was time to seek expertise, even though I dread going to doctors and ERs and clinics. The vision of birthing baby spiders was more unbearable than my want to not see a doctor.
Thirty minutes later I was in a pristine waiting room at a walk-in clinic in Beverly Hills (considering I live downtown and two blocks from skid row, the thought of a downtown walk-in clinic was a little disconcerting for someone who is mildly germophobic). Thankfully, there was no waiting period and I was scooted right into a large examining room. Upon being asked why I was there, I showed the nurse pictures I had taken of the bite. And then lifted my shirt for a live showing.
“Oh my god,” said the nurse. When a medical professional refers to a higher power during an examination it’s usually not a good sign of things to come. She might as well said, “You’re filthy and disgusting.” Because that’s exactly how I felt at the moment.
“Does it hurt?” the nurse asked. It didn’t. The wound was just under the imaginary line across my chest where I stop feeling topically due to being paralyzed. So there was that. The creature was nice enough to do me this favor, and not bite my face.
While I sat there feeling like a science experiment gone rogue, the nurse eventually pulled a peer into the room to aid in describing the site. Again, comments of awe and many ‘ooohhs’ started rolling from each of their tongues. I wanted to say, “Okay, enough, I get it. It’s gross. That’s why I’m here. Now fix me.” But instead I sat there smiling while they both examined me with a wrinkled brow, frowning.
“I’m Dr. Mike,” the clinic doctor said, introducing him self and offering his hand for a shake. He must not know how disgusting I am, I thought. I pulled out my iPhone and showed him the documentation from Day 1, Day 2 and then Day 7. He pulled up my shirt, took a look, and then quietly said, “Wow.” He took my phone from me and started pointing to the latest picture, explaining what all the colors of red, brown and blue meant. “I see this quite often with spider bites,” he began. “Spider’s fangs are covered with all kinds of bacteria and when they sink their teeth into your skin, they can spread infection to your skin and blood.” Later he’d tell me specifically he thought the spider that bit me was a brown recluse.
All I could think about during his diagnosis was “Gross. When did I encounter a brown recluse? And where?” The thought of a spider violating my body, and crawling all around me literally made me physically shake. Even worse, I thought. What if that fucker is still in my wheelchair somewhere?
In regards to treatment, Dr. Mike gave me an injection of antibiotics and a prescription for three other antibiotics, two oral and one topical cream. He also asked I come back the next day for another antibiotic shot. Upon that visit, he asked I return again the following morning. And now this has become a routine I must follow, just to save my skin, which he promises will scar deeply.
Fucking spiders. Ugh. I am celebrating the day off from the doctor’s office tomorrow, although I do have to return on Friday for another examination and shot of antibiotics. Hopefully it’ll all be well by then and I can part ways with Dr. Mike (although I love him as a doctor and will be back if necessary). I’m still having nightmares about thousands of baby spiders. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around this whole ordeal. A fucking brown recluse spider bit me? Really? I don’t even camp. Who knew something so small could cause such harm (google-image search brown recluse spider bites if you want to vomit, I nearly did).