Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Another look back: Halloween 2003


In case you haven’t figured it out yet so far from this blog, my life is a study in the incredible, hilarious, bizarre and ironic. This is going to be another look back at my life BC (before children), but while we were in the process of trying to get approved for our very first adoption homestudy.

It was Fall of 2003. We had done all the paperwork, put together our financials, written our adoption and personal history essays, filled out all forms, answered all the questions, had our friends write their character references about us, had our criminal background checks done, gone to all the doctors for the appropriate medical checkups, and now we were just a couple of weeks away from the actual home visit by the social worker to get our approval.

Our former home was at the end of a cul-de-sac in a very nice, family type neighborhood, backed up to some woods. Now, I do love gardening. I always had nice plants and shrubbery and trees and flowers at every home I had lived in as an adult. But this particular house, there was something in the ground, the Earth, the very dirt beneath my home that I was severely allergic to. It had taken living there about two years to figure this out, after many rounds of poison ivy, poison oak, you name it. So by the time late 2003 rolled around, all the outdoor gardening duties had been delegated to my dear hubby. He didn't mind, however; he loves gardening, too.

So this one particular week in mid-October of 2003, hubby's "Honey-Do" list for the week included not only getting all the Halloween stuff out of the attic and set up on display, but also included sprucing up the yard and front porch and sidewalk before the social worker made her visit during the last week of October. So he's plugging along one morning out in the front yard....it was a little cool, so he had on his long jeans, instead of his customary shorts. He's raking and weeding and digging and then, all of a sudden, he feels a pinch in the back of his leg. OUCH! Oooh, that hurt! He thought it was an ant hill he'd stepped in, and ticked off an ant that had crawled up his pant leg, so he felt around through his jeans on the back of his leg, felt what he thought much have been a really big ant, and SQUISH! Killed the sucker! Back to raking.

That night....meh, he's not feeling so hot. A little tired, maybe. Probably all that raking in the yard, and hauling a zillion Halloween boxes down from the attic. Goes to bed early.

Next morning: still not feeling so hot. Pain in this leg. We take a look at it. Red, very red. And swollen. We put some ointment on it and the day proceeds.

That evening he starts becoming very lethargic. Continuing to complain of pain in his leg, too. We take a look at it...it's now very swollen, very hot to the touch, and looks almost like a burn. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor here make the astute medical assessment that it must have been "one hell of an ant bite" or even (and this takes real thinking here) a FIRE ant bite to leave that much of a mark.

The next morning, hubby's eyes are puffy and have dark, dark circles under them. He begins complaining of nausea. I tell him in my nicest, wife-y tone to "take it easy today". We're still not connecting the dots at this point that his ant bite has anything to do with these other symptoms.

That evening, the bite mark on the back of his leg has, for lack of a better term, exploded. The skin is shredding off his calf, and he's unable to keep food down, and the black circles under his eyes and the paleness of the rest of his skin make him look like a corpse. He's feverish and jittery, sweating bullets and can't walk. Lots of pain in the leg. He goes to the doctor the next day.

The doctor, our family doctor of the last 15 years, says it beats him what it is...that is, until Pete described the ant bite he received. Turns out it was not an ant bite after all. It was (drum roll here) the bite of a poisonous, deadly, potentially fatal brown recluse spider! Our doctor has never personally seen a brown recluse spider bite. It was so bad at this point, the doctor said if we had waited much longer, hubby could have lost his leg! As it was, hubby refused hospitalization (did I mention in an earlier post that my husband is extremely stubborn?)

So...hubby had to go into the doctor's office every single day for a debrieding of the tissue (spell check, please). I hope I'm using the right word, but basically, they had to cut out the dead and dying tissue from the back of his calf so that it would not poison the rest of the healthy tissue, then apply topical medicine and dress the wound, and he prescribed narcotic painkillers and antibiotics for hubby to take for 10 days. Our doctor even took pictures because he was attending a medical conference the next month, and wanted to do a presentation of the work done on my hubby's leg, since brown recluse spider bites are rather rare in Florida (at least, according to him). He took copious notes and video and pictures and really worked diligently to take care of hubby's hairy little leg.

Well, it was a difficult couple of weeks there, and needless to say, with hubby looking just this side of death (not to mention feeling that way) we had to postpone the social worker's visit to our house until the next month. But, for those of you who know me, you know that I simply could NOT let this episode pass us without memorializing it in some novel way. Because who else, if not us, would suffer a deadly poisonous spider bite so close to Halloween? So, you guessed it. I went to the local party store and if I bought one, I must have bought 100, paper, ceramic, plastic, velour, vinyl, rubber, anything, you name it, fake spiders to decorate our house with for Halloween. Yes, I am wicked, but hubby loved it. He "gets" me, and my bizarre sense of humor. If only I would use my power for good instead of evil....and to top it off? You may have read from an earlier post that I am just crazy enough to send out Halloween greeting cards...my own, not store-bought? Yup, you guessed that, too. I made copies of the doctor's pictures of the spiders bite...and sent those to a few friends and family members that I thought could take it. Not everyone, mind you...I'm not heartless. But my step-son (an Air Force medic) especially loved it...and asked for extra copies!

So that's how we celebrated Halloween 2003. A real trick, not much of a treat, but definitely interesting. And hubby's hairy little leg, to this day, still has the fist-sized scar to prove it. May your Halloween this year be much, much safer, but no less memorable for you! Trick or Treat!

1 comment:

Karen L. said...

What a small world. I have never met anyone else that was bitten by a brown recluse before. I was bitten about 6 years ago by a tiny one. It was in my shoe when I put it on and it bit me on my toe,(third to smallest one). I went to the doc right away and he treated me with antibiotics and an anti-inflamatory. I had to soak it daily in a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and epson salts and when it festered I would pop it. It became the size of a dime and almost reached around my entire toe. The skin rotted and regrew for almost 6 months before it finally healed. This was a very tiny spider,(I took it to the doctor with me), so I can only imagine how your husband must have suffered! Thank goodness he was okay!!