This is my attempt to create some interesting musings, uberservations and, perhaps, insights on both my personal and professional life.


Friday, October 22, 2004

My Story about a Black Widow

In early 2004, just after New Years, I was cleaning out my gutters while I was taking down the holiday lights. I reached into the muck time after time and pulled out seemingly endless hand-fulls of rotting leaves and mud. All was well, until I felt a sharp pain on the back of my thumb. I was certain that I was stung by something or I had somehow been stuck by a pin or something small and sharp. I jumped down off the ladder and by the time I looked at my hand it was already swelling up. It was throbbing and I felt a little nauseous. I started to sweat a bit across my forehead. Upon further inspection, there were dozens of tiny spiders scrambling over my swelling hand. I had been bitten by a spider. We called poison control (your tax dollars at work!) and by the description of the bite and my symptoms, the woman on the phone deduced that I had been bitten by a Black Widow. She said it was pretty much a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse, but because of the way the bite looked, it was clearly a Black Widow that bit me.

A Black Widow bite is certainly painful, but not deadly to healthy adults. Their advice was to do my best to stay idle for the next few hours and if I felt tightening in my chest that I should get to an emergency room asap. Black Widow bites are only dangerous to the very young or the very old. Their bite can cause your muscles to contract and thus "paralyze" your chest, making it hard to breathe, or even constrict your heart muscles. My hand stayed swollen for about 3 or 4 hours and that was that.

My advice: wear gloves when cleaning out your gutters or working around a wood pile. The most common homes for Black Widows are the aforementioned locations.