Friday, November 30, 2012

Spider Story Update

The post dated September 11, 2012  (it seemed like years ago, for as long as it's been since I posted) and A Couple of Half-baked Thoughts and a Spider Story was about the end result of some sort of insect bite I received in early August. I am now scarred for life. I am not kidding. Not pretty.

I ended up seeing the doctor about a week later simply because some lymph nodes on my head and neck on the same side as the spider bite were swollen. After having had another lymphectomy, I didn't want to take any chances. The doctor immediately diagnosed the bites as spider bites and prescribed antibiotics, steroids, and topical cortizone.

I have since done HOURS AND HOURS of Internet research on spider bites and have learned that spider bites are extremely difficult to diagnose unless you catch the spider in the act and most doctor-diagnosed spider bite are usually something else.

Almost as soon as I began using the topical cortizone, the skin at the site of the bites became necrotic. It wasn't until weeks later, too late to do anything about it actually, that I remembered that one of my professor colleagues is a spider researcher.

I showed him the bites and he said in no uncertain terms, "Not a spider bite."

I asked him if it would do any good to bring him a spider specimen. That man got positively giddy. That is why he is known as "Spiderman" by this students, I guess.

We've seen numerous spiders, unfortunately in BonnieBlue's room, and it seemed logical that if I was bitten by a spider it was one of the many we've been seeing. I killed two before I remembered I was supposed to get an undamaged specimen.

The fated day came, and according to Spiderman's directions, we caught one in a small jar, filled it with isopropyl alcohol, and put him in the freezer until I could take him in.

Spiderman identified the little hairy intruder thusly: definitely a male sheet-web spider (Family Agelenidae), probably of the species Agelenopsis pennsylvanica.  This is a spider common to Ohio (and Pennsylvania, I would assume), and he indicated that there was little or no chance that it gave me the awful scar I now sport. Spiderman also offered that what happened to me looked just like what happens as a result of staph infection.

So, tens of more hours on the Internet, and I was convinced. I either contracted the staph at the doctor's office, or from the topical cortizone, or carried it home with me from the hospital when I had a mastectomy. Another friend told me that staph is commonly found in horse barns; that is consistent with an insect bite from the garden as we fertilize with horse manure.

So, mystery solved, at least in my head. I am styling my hair so that the forehead scar is hidden and the nose bridge scars are fading. I may be beautiful again someday.


  1. It's amazing. I would think they could diagnose a staph infection more easily though, couldn't they? And trust me, you are beautiful. I know!

  2. I haven't been back to the doc since the original diagnosis, so she woudldn't have had the chance to diagnose staph.


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