Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spiderman minus the superpowers

"If you are going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill

PAUL WAS BITTEN by a brown recluse spider on Saturday. Being bitten by a brown recluse is not a good thing. There are only two species in our part of the country that you have to watch out for: black widows and brown recluse spiders.

Paul thought it was a tiny injury sustained in the course of building an 18-feet high, 20" X 20" aluminum-extrusion exhibit, and not knowing that it was a venomous spider bite, treated it exactly opposite of how he should have.

When you're bitten, you should go immediately to a doctor or urgent care center for treatment. He was bitten on Saturday but didn't see a doctor until Wednesday. 

You're not supposed to apply heat to the bite site which Paul did, over my suggestion that he ice it instead. He didn't know what he was dealing with. (Neither did I, but my rule of thumb is that heat may help some things sometimes, but can potentially be quite harmful, whereas ice might not always help in every case, but it's never going to do damage.)

If you've been bitten, you should be inactive because the more you move around, the farther and faster the poison spreads in the body. Not only had Paul been building this exhibit from early Saturday until 1:30 AM Sunday — in and out of wooden crates, working on the floor, up and down ladders, lifting, carrying, using tools and so on — so the client, who had driven in from Champaign, IL could perform the walk-through, but on Sunday he rehearsed for and played a Music Under the Stars concert for six or more hours.  

(When Paul and I were first together, he told me that playing a trombone is a strenuous, aerobic activity. At the time I thought that sounded like an exaggeration until I ended up being seated close behind him one evening a few months later during a Des Moines Big Band performance. I was in just the right spot to watch his back muscles and legs and arms while he played, and I could definitely "see" what he was talking about.)

Monday Paul put in another long, hard day tearing down and packing up the exhibit for the freight carrier. All in all, I think it would have been hard for him to have been more active unless he been climbing a mountain or competing in a triathlon.

Here's what Dr. Jerry Balentine, D.O. F.A.C.E.P. on emedicinehealth.com has to say: "The brown recluse venom is extremely poisonous, even more potent than that of a rattlesnake, but causes less disease than a rattlesnake bite because of the small quantities injected into its victims. The venom of the brown recluse is toxic to cells and tissues.

This venom is a collection of enzymes. One of the specific enzymes, once released into the victim's skin, causes destruction of local cell membranes, which disrupts the integrity of tissues leading to local breakdown of skin, fat, and blood vessels. This process leads to eventual tissue death (necrosis) in areas immediately surrounding the bite site."


This is not a picture of Paul, but it could be except
that the wound has also risen up and looks kind 

of like mount Everest from the side.

Webmd.com says this:

Some people have a severe, systemic (whole-body) reaction to brown recluse spider bites, including the rapid destruction of red blood cells and anemia (hemolytic anemia). Symptoms include:

— fever and chills
— nausea or vomiting
— joint pain

Paul has extreme pain at the bite wound site and in his whole leg. His leg is swollen from knee to ankle and turned hot pick. He's been running a fever alternating with chills. He has had nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and in addition to one hell of a headache, his whole body hurts.

In a clinical study, skin necrosis occurred 37% of the time, while systemic illness occurred 14% of the time. Paul is on the wrong side of those statistics; he has both.

And as if this weren't bad enough, Paul has been fighting an MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus) infection for the last five months at least. He's now on his fifth kind of antibiotic. I'm taking the best care I can of him, but I can't help but be freaked out. He's really sick!


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1 comment:

  1. Oh, that had to be SO frightening! I'm assuming it's better now, but wowza! Wishing you both terrific health.

    ReplyDelete