Missy and the Spider

Missy unlike Skip was always up to catch bugs, mice, spiders, etc. You name it and she probably wanted to kill it.  One night this playfulness could have cost her life.  I’m stretching it a bit, but a Brown Recluse spider bite is serious in humans and even more serious in cats.  This incident happened when Missy was fairly young.

I was an avid reader growing up.  I used to use my extra allowance to buy books plus my parents and grandparents used to buy books for me.  It was nothing for me to buy 4 to 5 teen books on Friday and have them read by Monday.  Then the whole week, I would read and reread the books until I could get new ones.  If for some reason I was out of allowance or we didn’t make it to the store, I would just reread the books I had.  Once I turned sixteen, my Grandma started sneaking me adult romance novels to help me out with books.  Grandma gave me some of the less explicit romance novels. 😉  At sixteen, I now had to pay for gas for my car, so I had less money to go towards books even if dad did add $10 a week for gas (Oh how times have changed).

Since we were generally busy on Saturdays, cleaning or working outside, I read in the evening or late at night.  Plus Sundays was our day of relaxation, so I would spend my time reading.  Homework?  I did that at school.  I rarely brought homework home.  Math and English papers were the primary items that I brought home, but my math teacher took pity on us and rarely assigned homework on Fridays.  Fridays were our test days over the material we studied for that week.  In general over the weekend, I had no homework to do.

One Saturday late at night, after a successful book run that weekend, I was in bed reading a particularly good book, and it occurred to me that Missy wasn’t curled up next to me like usual.  I always read with the door shut due to the light and it was like 2 AM, and I knew Missy was in the room.  I looked around and she was on the floor playing with something.  I didn’t think anything of it; I just figured that she found one of her rabbit’s feet that she loved to play with.

I settled back down into the nice warm waterbed and my book.  Suddenly, I got startled out of my reading to see Missy jumping straight up and down at the foot of the bed.  It was spooky because she was literally jumping straight up and as soon as she landed, she’d jump again.

I got up and told Missy she was scaring me.  I knew something was wrong, but when I ran over to her, I saw nothing around that would cause her to jump up and down.  When she landed, I wrapped my hand under her to pick her up and instantly felt pain like someone stabbed me with a pin.  I kind of tossed her into my other hand and caught her while shaking my hand that was injured.

Missy was no longer freaking out and I still saw nothing on the floor.  I looked down at my hand and I saw two marks right next to my middle finger knuckle.  It had to be a spider, but I didn’t see the spider around.  I kept Missy in my left arm; she was perfectly happy there.  For some reason, I picked up a jacket on the back of a chair and went to hang it up.  My room used to be a mess, so I guess I decided to clean up to try and find the spider.

That’s when I noticed that my right hand was going numb; it wasn’t completely numb, but it was getting there as I had limited feeling.  I immediately headed with Missy to the bathroom.  I ran my right hand under cold water for several minutes.  I then opened my parents’ bedroom door and went to mom.  Now my mom sleeps pretty sound and doesn’t wake up very well, but she’s in the medical field, so she is the one I needed.  I shook her while saying “Mom, mom, come on mom wake up!”

Finally, she awoke and asked what was wrong in a very sleepy voice.  I told her I was bitten by a spider.  In her grogginess, she said “Get a baggy fill it with ice and ice it.”  And she promptly fell back asleep.  I said “Ok”, and with Missy still in my left arm (at least Missy was young at the time and very light), I headed to the kitchen.  I got a baggy out and filled it with ice.  I could have done it faster with Missy on the floor, but I was worried about her running back to the room and trying to kill the spider.  I didn’t want her hurt.  I grabbed a kitchen towel and headed back to the danger zone as the spider was still somewhere in my bedroom.

After about 30 minutes, I think mom in her sleep, realized that the bite must have been pretty serious for me to wake her.  I rarely complained about bug bites, so for me to actually wake her, told her that something more serious was going on.  Eventually, her brain kicked in and woke her up.  The next thing I know, my door is flying open.  She looked at me, and all lights were on in my room, Missy was still in my arms, an ice pack on my hand, and tears coming down my face.  I was spooked.  I’m not sure if I have ever been more spooked.

She sat down and asked to see my hand.  It was starting to swell up, and I told her I couldn’t’ feel it.  She went out and grabbed her evil tool kit that she uses to get splinters out.  Yes, it is evil, and if you have ever had her dig a splinter out of your hand, you would know just how evil it is.

She said, “This might hurt a bit.” And then lanced the bite open.  I didn’t feel a thing.  When she lanced it, liquid came out that had a rainbow shine to it from the light.  Mom immediately started sucking out the poison.  Once she got blood to come out, she stopped.  She then put alcohol on it and dressed it.  She told me to keep the ice on it.   Then she had me hold Missy, so that she could see if there were any bites on her.  Other than ticking Missy off, Missy was fine.  She never was bitten.

The next day, my hand was swollen again, so mom reopened it and did the same thing.  I also found and killed the spider the next morning.  It appears to have been a Brown Recluse.  I know people say the bite shouldn’t hurt when it first occurs, but I have a low tolerance for pain, so I felt every bit of the fangs breaking my skin.  Plus the bite was on my hand which was extra sensitive since earlier in the year I was hospitalized for dehydration and pneumonia.  They stuck my right hand three times for the IV, so my hand was extra sensitive.

What had happened was the spider was at the foot of the bed.  Missy at some point decided to kill it, but instead, the spider jumped on her mid section right where her heart was.  I have no idea how Missy knew that this was bad, but she did.  She started jumping to try and dislodge the spider.  The vet said that Brown Recluse spider bites can be very dangerous to a young cat especially if bit right where the heart is.  The vet said she was a lucky cat.

It took several months before the venom was completely gone from my hand.  If I hit my knuckle on anything, it would swell up and mom would relance it.  We’d see the venom come out.  Mom would keep extracting it until we saw blood come out.  I think the initial steps that we took that night were what kept me from having a severe issue like the Brown Recluse spider bite pictures you see out on websites.  Plus I was on antibiotics, antihistamines, and steroids for chronic bronchitis at the time which was probably a tremendous help.

The interesting thing that I noticed after this incident was that mosquitoes avoided me.  They only attacked me when there was no one else around and were desperate.  Spiders were however attracted to me.  I got numerous bites from non-venomous spiders.  While those were felt, they did not even come close tot he bite I felt that night.  The location of where I was bit probably has something to do with how much the brown recluse spider bite hurt.  This could all be coincidence, but you just never know.

Btw, dad had an exterminator come out and treat our house; just in case the guy who bit me had any friends.  Missy…she was fine.  She still attacked spiders and everything else that moved.  She wasn’t fazed in the least.  I figure that I saved her life that night by taking the bite for her, and I’d do it again if I needed to because our bodies are a lot larger and can dilute the venom over a much larger space.

To this day, I can’t stand spiders and I am afraid of them.   I still have the scars today from the bite.  They are a lot fainter now, but I know where they are and can pick out the dots.  I can at least kill spider, but I do have to take a deep breath before doing so.  I imagine that my reaction to spiders is probably what has Skip scared of spiders.

Missy and I declared war on spiders.  I used to have no issue with them, but they drew first blood, so I really don’t care how much good they do.  If they come around me, they are dead no if and or buts.  Well, actually most are.  I won’t kill Daddy Long Legs.  While Daddy Long Legs are extremely poisonous, they can’t bite through our skin. I know that so, I will move them out of my way.  However, Missy just likes to kill bugs, and really doesn’t care what type they are. 🙂

And that is the story about Missy and the spider.