Wednesday, October 1, 2008

the itsy bitsy spider

I have spent the past two months in a puddle of self-pity while making frequent trips to the doctor and taking pills.

I came through the surgery and the resulting surgical site infection well, only to be laid on my ass by a critter I never even saw.

Right after the surgery I noticed a spider bite on the outside of my calf. It looked harmless enough and I paid it no mind. As I finished up my seven-day round of antibiotics I noticed the bite was still visible and I remember thinking, "hmmm, this is odd, that must've been one hell of a spider!"

Within a week of finishing that first round of antibiotics, the harmless looking bite had begun to swell and soon I was sporting a hard, 5 cm knot on the side of my leg. I waited a few more days, until the pain finally became unbearable and I could no longer put any pressure on that leg without a sharp shooting pain running down my shin.

The doctor was puzzled. It's definitely some sort of infection. It doesn't look like staph. It's not acting like any spider bite I've ever seen. Let's try a different type of antibiotics and see what happens.

I'll tell you what happened, the antibiotics just pissed it off. By the end of the first week, the knot was continuing to grow larger, was still an angry red and had begun darkening like a deep bruise. Next thing I know, I'm having an inch long hole cut into my leg and having it packed with gauze. Two days later, puzzled that there was still no improvement at all and thinking it must be staph, the doctor cleaned out a bit more of the wound he'd made and packed it again.

By this point I could barely walk.

What kind of pain is it, the doctor asked.

I can't even describe it. It aches and burns all at the same time and every few minutes it feels as though a hot knife is slicing down the inside of my shin.

The gauze came out a few days later when tests confirmed it wasn't staph and I was placed on a third different antibiotic. The official diagnosis? Some unnamed spider.

That was a week and a half ago. I still have a visible circle, about 5 inches across, around the hole made by the doctor and it is still hard to the touch, but the swelling has gone down and the pain has subsided, only flaring up at night if I've spent too much time on my feet or when I accidentally put pressure against it. It's no longer hot to the touch and stopped draining a few days ago, forming a normal looking scab so I assume that means it's no longer infected.

I finally finished the antibiotics yesterday and somehow I've managed not to become addicted to the Vicodin I was eating like candy for a couple of weeks there. Now maybe things will get back to normal around here.

Of course, thanks to a flyswatter and a large amount of Raid, there's probably not a spider living within a five-mile radius of my house!

1 comment:

  1. This exact thing happened to my mother two years ago. We were all dumbfounded as to what species of spider that could cause such havoc would be resident in a cold, coastal town in New England. Sometimes it is easy to think nature is singling you out for all manner of atrocities.

    Feel better soon.