After Suzi Cate’s post of the spider webs the other day I know I promised a story of my husband’s arachnophobia. He has good reason to be afflicted with it. He has twice been the victim…to a brown recluse bite. So, yes, he has good reason to run screaming like a little girl when he sees spiders near him. I’ll tell the tales and let you decide for yourself.
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away… wait no, that’s another story. But yes, it was long ago, when hubby and I first got married and it was far away from where we live now. It was when we lived in New Orleans so that is sort of like another galaxy, let’s say Pre-Katrina galaxy. Where we lived then, I think no longer exists. We lived in New Orleans East which was basically reclaimed swamp land and I’ve heard is again since Katrina. But, I digress (I realize I do that a lot).
We lived in an apartment complex called Frenchman’s Wharf. The apartment buildings formed a semicircle around a lake and on each side of the lake was a pool and a canal ran down along one side of the complex. There were Nutria (if you’ve never seen a nutria, you haven’t LIVED buddy…they are like large cat sized cross between a rat and a beaver – they are rodents and you can read about them here: http://www.nutria.com/site.php) and all sorts of vermin roaming the property at night. So you could run into about anything on that property!
That day hubby had spent the better part of the day at the pool with his best friend (who was our best man), drinking beer and hanging out. After I got off work we all went to hang out at Artista Pizza which was one of our favorite haunts. It was owned by one of our best friend’s Sal. Some of the best pizza and salads ever. Ohhhhh and stuffed artichokes. Artista was located in a fairly old (ok really old) building which also housed a bowling alley next door. He could have been bitten either place, but since they like to hide in dark corners (hence the name recluse) and Artista did have some dark corners, I’m willing to bet it happened there.
So we’re sitting there chowing down on salad and pizza and beer….well, I wasn’t having beer because I was like 6 months pregnant with our first child. I happened to look over at hubby’s hand and realized it was swollen. I asked him what happened and he said he didn’t know, he couldn’t remember hitting it or anything. Over the course of the next hour it increasingly got bigger and bigger until it looked like someone had put a rubber glove on it and blown it up. You remember when Howie Mandel used to put those surgical gloves on his head and blow them up to astronomical proportions, until they popped off his head? Yeah, well that’s what hubby’s hand looked like. I was beginning to think it was going to explode.
We decided we needed to go to the Emergency Room in case he’d done something and broken it and didn’t remember or something. I mean he had been drinking all day so he didn’t remember a whole lot of anything, I don’t think! So, we go in and they won’t let me go back with him because they want to make sure he didn’t have a heart attack or a blockage or something and with me being pregnant they were afraid I’d be too emotional or something…not really sure what the reasoning was behind that.
I waited in that ER for over FIVE HOURS when the doctor finally comes out and calls my name. I go over and he says (and I am not joking) in a very serious tone “Mrs. B… your husband’s hand is inflamed.” No shit, Sherlock? That was what I wanted to say. What I said was: “Well, that’s kinda why we’re here, ya know? Can you possibly tell me why it’s inflamed?”
He told me they couldn’t find anything wrong with it after a whole battery of xrays and everything so they wanted to send him to a Orthopedic Surgeon the next day to have his expert opinion. The Ortho was the one who found the spider bite. It had bitten him on his hand between his wedding ring and his middle finger. He sent hubby to Tulane University (or was it Loyola?) for them to extract some of the venom to find out what kind of bite it was. They were the ones that determined it was a brown recluse spider. Here’s what they look like:
They are also called Fiddle spiders because it has the shape of a fiddle on its back. They like to hide in quiet dark places. The doctors at the university informed him that he would need to go through 13 WEEKS of anti-venom shots IN HIS BELLY BUTTON!!! I felt so badly for him. They are apparently very venomous little fellas that can cause one heck of a wound. They told hubby that if he hadn’t been in such good physical shape it could have been a LOT worse. He had to have them once a week and after every one he was sick as a dog the rest of the day and sometimes the next. After 10 weeks he told me he didn’t care if he DIED, he couldn’t go through another one. And it’s really weird but ever since then, his belly button has been shaped really weird and you can even see the scars from the shots.
A couple of months later we had gone to breakfast at Waffle House and when we got back in the car there was a spider on the dash board of my car. Hubby jumped right back out of the car and would NOT get back in. He walked to the grocery store next door and bought and sprayed a whole can of bug spray all over the dash and between the dash and windshield and I had to promise him I had squished it with the newspaper before he’d get back in the car to go home. We were in my car, which was a Mazda RX7 and he couldn’t drive because he was too tall. I really hadn’t killed it because I couldn’t find it but figured since we had sprayed the whole friggin’ can of bug spray there was pretty darn good chance it was dead and we had to get him home. Funny thing was the next morning when I came out to get in my car, there he was, sitting on the dashboard above the steering wheel looking at me! Sorry, but I squashed his little spider body flatter than a pancake! I had to protect my hubs! And that’s how I became a serial killer – of spiders that is.
Fast forward about 25 years and numerous dead spiders and we are now living in Georgia. I think I was in Virginia or somewhere because hubby was here by himself. He had worked in the yard all day. He came in and was “cooling down” before he took a shower. He lay down on the bed to watch the baseball game and I don’t know whether the little bugger had hitchhiked inside on Hubby’s clothes or what but it got him…right between the eyes on his forehead. This time he caught it and took it to the county Farm Extension Bureau and they verified it was a brown recluse.
He got really sick like he had the flu or something for several days and for weeks it looked like he had a crater between his eyes. Their venom causes necrosis of the surrounding skin tissue (in layman’s terms that means the skin and underlying tissue dies – ROTS). It looked pretty nasty. He still has a scar on his forehead. So, with good reason he has a justifiable and not altogether unnatural fear of spiders.
Sorry, that doesn’t make it any less funny to see him run around screaming like a little girl when he sees one. You have to remember that hubby is a BIG man so to see him scared of such a little creature is humorous. He usually calls me to do the dirty work because he doesn’t want to get that close to a live spider. That’s why I’m especially proud of him for the other night. Here’s how it went down:
He’s at the computer in the breakfast nook and I’m in the living room and I hear this “little girl scream” and then I hear the chair suddenly roll across the floor (very hurriedly, like he’s running a 10 yard dash). I ask him what’s wrong and he’s like “nothing, nothing, I got it under control.” But, I could hear the panic in his momentarily high pitched shrieky voice. He’s like flailing the rolled up newspaper around like his life depends on it. He’s hitting it on the floor like he’s boxing Ali and his life depends on it. Then smiling, he triumphantly holds up the newspaper with the desecrated remains of Mr. Spidey on the underside. He sure showed Spidey who not to mess with. But that’s just how he rolls… I’m so proud!