Letter Re: The Rude Awakening of a Spider Bite

Mr Rawles:
Last week I dropped off to sleep and in the night with my legs uncovered due to the room being kind of warm. Some time during the night I was bitten by what was most likely a spider. as I awoke the next morning I started my regular work day. The initial bite was what I considered nothing more then an annoyance. I figured a mosquito might have got me, maybe a spider. I never really had a bad spider bite before. So I was sure it was just something got me, and it was something really itchy but not serious.

My situation as it started out, itching and burning and only the size of a dime. I expected it would be gone in a day or two and my life would return to normal.

Sadly that isn’t what happened. by the end of the first day my girlfriend noticed it wasn’t dime sized it was now quarter sized and she basically told me I needed to go and see a doctor – me being stubborn yet in pain I decided she was right. I left work early (now remember this is only the second day of having an unknown bite.) my doctor saw me, they gave me a tetanus shot and two scrips: one for pain killers, and one for docxytetra-something or other (I don’t have it in front of me, but it was an antibiotic).

The nurse told me as she drew in ink on my leg that if it gets any bigger with redness come back in ASAP, or call ASAP.

My next day was Friday, a day off for me. My girlfriend wasn’t impressed about this leg wound and she was worried about it- so she said it would be a good idea to come over to her place of work and have her friends (who lucky for me are nurses, have a look at it.) I almost decided to just stay home and wait it out because of the leg pain and getting in and out of the car- but I thought about it, and I wanted to have the nurses opinion on what it looked like to them. My doctor and his PA already said it looked like a spider bite, but I wanted to know what it looked like to the nurses. aside from that I had already paid for my doctor’s opinion, and these nurses would be okay with taking a look for free. The ink outline drawn at my doctors office was pretty close to being in the red zone.

The basic consensus on day three was get back to the doctor’s office. Call him right now! And get back there! You are in bad shape!

So I called – and was told to come in ASAP. So ASAP I dashed back to the doctors office.

Once there he took one look at what was yesterday’s quarter sized red swollen wound was now a half dollar in size. my whole calf was looking red, hot and swollen, it was impossible to stand now with out everything hurting. after taking about two minutes to really examine this mess, the doc said the words that I never want to hear again: “Sorry but it looks like your going to need to be admitted.” He directed me to the local hospital where his patients go. So back in the car and off I went to the hospital.

I’m not complaining about anyone doing anything wrong, or even suggesting that things are some how worse then I am making them out to be. But while at the hospital I was given 12 hour doses of IV antibiotics twice a day – I can say it turned the inflammation, pain, and progression of this infection back and likely saved my leg from more serious ends.

Now consider this, a spider put me in the hospital for four days. Friday to Monday. I am writing this Wednesday morning and I’m still hurting, things are looking like I’m mending. I am taking antibiotics 2x a day, but it’s going to be a while before i heal up.

Here is my big issue: What would have happened in grid down or no power/ no hospital- no help scenario?

I’m almost 40 and this is the first time I’ve ever had anything like this happen before, so it’s not common in my experience to be bitten by more then mosquitoes. I’ve never had a bite from a spider let alone one that became infected to the point of my needing serious medical help. I’ve slept on a ground cloth camping, with a tarp over head as a kid and woke up with slug trails on me, but never got bitten. Maybe I was just lucky? I don’t know.

Perhaps a doctor that reads SurvivalBlog could comment on this article: Spider Bite Treatment. (I’m not affiliated with them, I just read the information and would like to know if that would have been a better option- cortisone treatment at the bite site? ) I’d like to hear the Doc’s opinion on spider bites from treatment to prevention.  as stated in the article it would appear that doctors aren’t exposed to treating spider bites, and this information could be really useful as I might have waited too long to be seen because I didn’t know better, but it was never suggested to me as an option for treatment – just IV antibiotics, pain meds and rest…. what are my best sources of stable store-able antibiotics and/or cortisone? is that even an option?  I’ve seen in past posts about using fish antibiotics. I am not certain this would have been helpful in this situation, but like everyone else I’m still looking for ways to prepare.  

I decided to check out more about why this happened to me. I also decided to see about correcting or preventing this from happening again.

My first order of business I looked at my circumstances like a mystery: Why did that happen? How did it happen? One of my first courses of action is going to be get rid of that porch light!! (I plan on replacing it with a yellow light that won’t attract moths) Okay, I know it sounds crazy or even unrelated to a spider biting me in bed, but consider this – the light is left on at night for security- it attracts food sources that spiders eat- they congregate at my front door…- if I remove their food sources they will hopefully find someplace else to eat, and I’m really good with them moving on. 🙂

How did I make that connection? my first day out of the hospital walking in the kitchen I had a spider hanging off my arm just after opening the door. I’d say I walked in to his web and carried him in to my world by accident and he didn’t last long in my world. I don’t want to kill a beneficial living creature that eat pests. I don’t want them to accidentally kill me either.  

My next order of business is I plan to get this: Sawyer Extractor Professional Snake Bite & Insect Sting Kit. (BTW, I have no faith in the snake bite part of the kit -and have no plan to use that just because I think it’s a bad idea to cut/suck/cut a snake bite wound in an effort to extract venom. It seems time would be better spent doing anything but that.) After reading that spider poison is only in the skin (not in the veins) it makes sense that a suction at first detection of the bite would be really better then letting it get inflamed and letting the poison destroy the skin/tissue.

This has been an expensive lesson. Most of the expense has been measured in pain so it should be really easy to remember it. I hope by sharing this with you and your readers they can learn from my pain also. As this is one lesson that I would have loved to skip. Ouch! – Fitzy in Pennsylvania