Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Spider Story

I promised I would share my Spider Story at Janet's baby shower last night. (Don't read, Janet, you have been warned!)

I've never been particularly scared of spiders, per se, but I am highly allergic to their bites. One small spider bite on my ankle, for example, can cause it to swell to the size of a softball. Though I've never been afraid of spiders, I've never liked killing them, either. At different times in my life (usually relating to how recently I've been bitten) I have wavered between the catch-and-release-outside methodology and the get-it-before-it-gets-me. Several years ago, I rented a basement room. Unfortunately, spiders and basement rooms are friends. One might even say they are deeply intimate. I became very good at killing spiders without batting an eyelash.

Despite being a very deep sleeper, I awoke in the middle of the night one night with a sharp pain on the back of my knee. I had been bitten by yet another spider. I shook out my sheets and, finding nothing, returned to sleep. The spider bite was a doozy. It ached. The back of my knee swelled enough that it was painful to sit properly on a chair.

A month and a half went by, and still the bite was painful. (If you think watching a dog chase its tail is funny, you should try to look closely at the back of your knee.) Eventually, I was bit again by a very small spider on the finger. Minutes later I began to sting and itch on my lower belly. It hurt badly enough that I went to the restroom to check out the problem. It appeared that I had been bitten by ants. After about ten or fifteen minutes of acute pain, the symptoms vanished.

The next day it happened again, but this time it was over my belly and legs. To make a long story short, it eventually spread down my arms and over my neck and face, appearing as whitish ant bites, fading to red and finally disappearing only to appear again some time later. The problem became frequent and painful enough to begin interfering with my work. I decided it was time to go to the Urgent Care clinic. The symptoms happened again on my way to the clinic, but by the time the doctor saw me, the bite-like marks were almost gone.

The diagnosis was systemic allergies. Apparently, my body had been so overloaded with some allergen that it could no longer handle it with a localized allergic reaction, hence the tiny bite-like marks that some would recognize as hives. Upon examination, it turned out that the spider that had woken me in the middle of the night was a hobo spider. I had been walking around with a bulls-eye bite on the back of my knee for nearly two months. After few test samples of Claritin (which was new at the time) everything was fixed.

It wasn't until a few weeks later that I was sitting on my floor, working on my computer when a thick-legged spider about the size of my thumb scuttled along my wall and behind my computer. I was armed with spider-killer. After a few missed shots (the bugger was fast) I hit it squarely on its furry little head. It was the first and only time I have enjoyed watching one of God's creatures dissolve into a puddle of goo.

Rest in peace, little hobo spider, but I regret not thy passing.


  1. I should also add that I am okay. It took another month or two for the bite to fade, but I survived!

  2. I really, really hate spiders. If I were allergic to them, I think I'd be downright neurotic about them. :) Glad you survived!

  3. Wow, thank goodness that after all your suffering, your story had a happy ending. May you and spiders be happily separated henceforth and forever!

  4. I love your creative writing style, but I decided to skim this piece. I am not too phobic about spiders although a huge one dangling on a silky string close to my head would freak me out. But reading this may tip me over the edge. I like this side of you as well. You have a lot of interesting dimensions. I am hoping that if I comment enough that you might consider me a friend. :) I really would like that.

  5. Barb - I've loved your comments, but commenting frequency is not necessary to be determined a friend. :D Thanks for the vote of confidence (despite the topic of this post!)

  6. Hooray! Thank you!

  7. How could you kill one of God's sentient. creatures, and then be proud of it? As a member of the church of LDS, Later Day Spiders, I can only say, "You know not what you do."


    Oh and shame on you for using bug spray, which pollutes the planet


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