Saturday, October 15, 2011

Things That Crawl in the Night

One morning in June I was driving my daughter to theater camp when I felt something strange on my neck. Figuring I'd been bitten by a mosquito the night before, I rubbed the spot and didn't think much more of it. Until a few hours later when the spot began to hurt...a burning, stinging pain I'd never felt before. By the evening (a Friday, no less), my neck was swollen and red, and the burn was spreading. I suffered through the weekend with flu-like symptoms, and by Sunday night every lymph node in my head was enlarged, especially those on the left side of my head and neck--the side with the "bite". Until that moment, I didn't even know humans had lymph nodes on the top of their scalps! But guess what...we do. Though I really wish I'd learned that in a book and not from experience.

The area around the bite turned black as the skin all died. When the pain became so intense I couldn't stand it anymore, I finally gave in and went to the doctor. (Yes, I have a phobia of doctors.) Sure enough, I'd been bitten by a spider, what kind though was still a mystery. I was told from the reaction, odds were good it was a brown recluse and that there wasn't much to do at this point except treat the symptoms, which I did, and find the spider and kill it.

Yes, you read that right. They suggested finding the spider and killing it. A tiny little spider in a great big world. Because I don't remember being bitten, we figured I had to have been snacked on sometime in the night...when I was sound asleep...unsuspecting...Vulnerable. For weeks after "the bite", every time I'd see a spider in the house I'd go berzerkers on the thing, until I was confident there were no spiders left. Did I get them all? I'm sure not, but I felt marginally better after unleashing my personal reign of terror. Why the damn spider bit me and not my husband is a mystery I'll never know, but lucky me, I am now the one with the big red circle on my neck that looks more like a hickey than a spider bite.

Here's a lovely photo of "the bite", weeks after it had turned black, scabbed over and fallen off leaving behind the lovely crater. (This photo was taken about the time my doctor looked at it and said, "Ew, that still looks nasty."):

So now that I've officially grossed you out, you're probably wondering what the hell this all has to do with books, right? Oh, let me tell you...lots. As it turns out, just a few weeks before I was bitten by this friendly beast, I turned in ENRAPTURED, book four in my Eternal Guardians series, and wouldn't you know it, there's a spider scene in that book. A big scene, in which a character is being attacked by hundreds of crawling, wriggling, biting spiders.

Life imitating fiction? Gosh, I seriously hope not. Because considering some of the things that "crawl" in my books, that means a spider bite is really the least of my worries.

Eek! My advice: Don't just worry about things that go bump in the night. Keep a keen eye out for the ones that crawl too.


  1. Ooo I already have a spider phobia, did not need to read this post for it! I sure hope those things don't live in Holland ...

  2. Definitely sounds like a brown recluse. You're very lucky you broke down and went to the doctor. Had you waited the antibiotics wouldn't have been able to do their magic and save the area around the bite.

    A friend of mine's grandpa got bit by one and never went to the doctor (until it was way too late). Two years after the bite, the area on his arm was still awful looking.

    This summer, a woman who works in my office showed me a bite on her arm. It looked just like yours. I don't get insistent often, but I did that day and practically threw her out of the work and demanded she go to her doctor. She was on antibiotics for 40 days.

    It's crazy what such a little critter can do.

  3. Appropriate post for the season, in part because with weather turning cooler, the arachnids are taking up residence in warmer climes--like our houses. I am off to buy some bug spray, thank you very much. And it's a good thing those spiders are recluses--what a nuisance it would be if they were extroverts.

  4. I'll say AMEN to Grace's comment. I'm just glad those dull looking deadly spiders aren't as aggressive as Wolf Spiders. Let's hope no scientist ever gets the bright idea to give them a little of Mr. Wolf Spider's DNA or we'll all be in serious shhh...tuff!

  5. You're very lucky. Those things are dangerous. My aunt was in the hospital a week from her brown recluse bite.

    Haha! Maybe it was revenge of the spiders!!!

  6. OMG I loathe spiders. Give me a snake any day! I will remember your book next time I want a real horror story (luckily I do like to read scary books lol). I've heard those things can actually kill you! I too hate doctors but if I get anything like that I am running not

  7. I hate, I hate, I hate spiders! I don't care if they are little or fat and black, I just want them away from my skin. I just googled brown recluse spider and I shudder to think of one getting too close to me. I hope the bite heals well.

  8. Ewwww! I have a new phobia now. I'm glad you are doing better!

  9. Aurian - I had a spider phobia before this happened. It's grown to exponential levels now!

  10. Tracey - Yes, I was very lucky. Antibiotics are amazing drugs. Four months after the bite I still have a huge scar, but it's fading. My doctor sent me to a plastic surgeon because it's in a visible location, but the plastic surgeon wants me to wait at least a year to see how it heals. Fingers crossed it continues to fade.

    When I have my hair up, I do get interesting looks though. It's in the "hickey" spot. Or the vampire bite spot...

  11. Lol, Grace! I definitely don't want to meet an extrovert spider.

    So true, Caroline! After the bite, my kids asked if I felt any Spidey-superpowers. Unfortunately, the spider who bit me wasn't hero material.

    Linda...I have no doubt it was spider revenge!

  12. catslady - Eeep! I'm not a fan of snakes either!

    Na - The internet is a scary place, isn't it? After I googled spider bites I was horrified (and feeling lucky) by the pictures I saw online.

    Amanda - So glad I could add to your phobia list!

  13. Eeeeek! I'm not scared of spiders, since it was my job to protect my arachnophobic mom from them since I could walk. Still, poisonous ones, and the thought of the bites gives me the willies. Also here's this fun statistic: The average person swallows 4 spiders in their sleep each year. I think that's why I try to never sleep with my mouth open.