Sunday, 24 May 2015

My Spider Bite - Part 2

If you haven't read Part 1 you can read it here :)

Now where was I...

Remember I was facing surgery to remove that ugly black dead tissue stuck to my leg?

Well... the dermatologist was adamant it had to be removed ASAP. It was severely stunting the healing process that should have started weeks before. It was clear the skin around the bite was healing and getting smaller but the necrosis was getting harder, if you looked at my leg at the right angle you could see the necrosis was completely concave and sunken into my skin. I was given two options… Option 1) Have a series of local anesthetic injections inserted around the bite to numb the area in order for the dermatologist to remove the necrosis using a scalpel. I was warned this wouldn’t numb the area entirely and I was already in such a severe amount of pain she thought it would be far too traumatic for me. Yes babe. Correct. Option 2) Go under a general anesthetic and have the necrotic tissue removed and I would know zilch about it. Absolutely no one really gets excited about the thought of an operation but by this stage I was like, “Look girlfriend, let’s get this show on the road…” Unfortunately she had no theatre space in the next couple of days but she was keen for me to be seen as quickly as possible. A few phone calls later I was booked in to see a plastic surgeon for a pre-op assessment on Monday morning.


In the meantime the dermatologist bandaged my leg with a specific type of dressing which would add moisture to my necrotic tissue. The idea being that the softer and more moisturised the dead tissue became the more likely it could be removed more easily. The effects of this dressing meant the black necrotic tissue would be drained, more wet looking and the black bits less black (technical terms obvs). 

One afternoon shortly afterwards, I was at my Nan and Grandad's house and my leg was SO uncomfortable, I was continuously popping pain killers, I could hardly move and I could see lots of blood building up underneath my bandage. In all honesty I was really getting fed up. Next thing I know I’m nervously picking away at the bandage thinking ‘surely blood is NOT a good sign’. Minutes later the bandage was removed, I burst into tears from the pain and I also realised it wasn't bloody blood at all! It was the build up of thick brown goo that had been removed from the dead tissue, you know, the 'less black bit' I talked about. This is EXACTLY what was meant to bloomin happen and now I had removed the dressing. Oh Carelle. You are a knob...

This is when the ugly bite got a whole lot uglier and the pain got a whole lot more painful too. 



The bandage was now off and the ordeal of cleaning the bite and getting it redressed quickly to reduce the risk of any infection was looming. I was still suffering from serious ‘don’t touch my leg' anxiety and it took both my Mum and Nan to pin me down to get it redressed.

The wound was covered up with my usual dressing and a couple of days later the dead tissue started to get dark and hard again, exactly what the Dermatologist was avoiding. Back to square one. I AM AN IDIOT.


 Monday arrived and I met with a plastic surgeon named Mr Colville, turns out he has worked for many years in America and has seen some terrible spider bites in his time. He explained that when spiders bite they often inject their victim with anesthetic, this explains how I have no recollection of feeling the spider actually bite me. Sneaky sod... He explained that the bite had no infection anymore (after three courses of antibiotics I'd like to bloody think not...) He also explained he was very dubious about surgery although he could see why the dermatologist was keen to remove the necrosis as with regular wounds it's vital for the necrosis to be removed pretty sharpish but with his experience of spider bites he didn’t think this was specifically a good idea for me. The outside skin was healing nicely and if he operated on it he would cut out the necrosis and scrape away at some of the healthy tissue causing a larger scar than I was already told to expect and potentially a hole in my leg for the rest of my days… He also said that after the operation I would then be left with an open wound which would have to be packed and dressed for a further three weeks - this was not ideal as it could be susceptible to infection again. By leaving the bite how it was he said the necrotic tissue would EVENTUALLY get smaller and fall off causing me very little pain and trauma. I walked out the hospital with very mixed feelings. I had psyched myself up to have the operation and to be told that I just had to leave it the way it was was gutting, especially as it could take a further month for the dead tissue to eventually fall off! Massive blow. The finish line was so close and it felt like it was suddenly taken away from me. The surgeon said it was important he kept a close eye on my leg and I was to contact him if I experienced any changes.
A week later the surgeon contacted me and said I should start letting the air get to the bite and I should even start showering too! This felt like CHRISTMAS. A shower. An actual shower where I could get my entire body wet. I had been strip washing and bending my head over the bath to wash my hair for the last 6 weeks! This news was a serious step in the right direction and let me tell you, my back was pretty pleased! I even started wearing jeans again and I was slowly but surely standing up on my feet for longer periods of time. I started getting the train to see my friends (whilst being constantly dosed up to my eyeballs with painkillers) and although I was paranoid of knocking my leg I was so much happier... I even managed to go to a wedding that weekend. I wasn’t able to boogie as much as everyone else and I spent most of the reception sitting on a stool but for the first time in weeks my life felt a little more normal.

Sadly the morning after the wedding I woke up in complete agony... my bite looked completely different (AGAIN). My leg was swollen, the bite was throbbing and the nerve pain was definitely making itself known again. The icing on the cake that day was when I went to get into a friend's car, I totally misjudged the angle and I knocked my leg on the way in. Rolling around the back of the car in pain I felt I might have just taken another massive step backwards (and I wasn't wrong).

I sent a picture to the surgeon and he gave me an emergency appointment a day later. This was the first time I had to make my own way to the hospital. I had never gone alone before and I was having to really psych myself up for this (how selfish of everyone being busy that day...) Mr Colville lay me down, told me to look away and with a set of tweezers and scissors he scraped off a tiny section of the dead tissue. You can imagine my reaction. He said he was sorry for having to do that but with the state of my leg he had to quickly look underneath to rule out infection. "Do you want the good news or the bad news Carelle?" Errrrrr...
"The Good news is that there isn't an infection. Bad news is I've now got to remove the entire dead tissue. It's too dangerous to leave like this." The pain I was experiencing from just the smallest bit being removed was crazy. The new skin underneath was really stinging, I was REALLY crying and so he asked the nurse to go and get a series of injections of local anesthetic so he could remove it. I was offered that 2 weeks ago by the Dermatalogist and didn't want it then either. Brilliant. The nurse seemed to take ages getting the appropriate medication and my 'I think I'm suddenly a super hero' alter ego kicked in and I said "Look, just take it off now. Go Go Go!" He looked at me like I had a sudden personailty transplant. 
"If you're totally sure Carelle..." He picked up a pair of scissors, I gripped the edge of the hospital bed and he started cutting away at my leg. I have never zoned out and focused so much in all my life. I don't really remember it but what I can recall is the intense pain as my new flesh underneath the wound became exposed to the air for the first time in two months. The necrosis was gone. The surgeon down tooled in time for the nurse to come in, wipe away my tears and start packing and bandaging up my leg.


I had spent eight weeks feeling unproductive, upset that I wasn't able to achieve anything and cross that it's typical I would be the one that got bitten by a bloomin house spider and have such a terrible reaction! However I was now experiencing serious pride and elation, (as well as a heap load of pain). Not only had the girl with a terrible fear of Doctors surgeries and hospitals arrived at the hospital by herself without having to get dragged in by a family member or her boyfriend, she also had her necrosis removed without any pain relief! Mr Colville also said that he was surprised how tough my necrosis was to remove and told me that the spider would have had to have been a venomous spider to have created a necrosis like that. He told me it was incredibly unlikely that a house spider could ever have caused a reaction like that even with my history of allergies. He has seen so many spider bites and a regular house spider could never do that much damage and venomous spiders are known for causing necrotic bites.

Unfortunately my bite hadn't got any smaller since the last time he measured it a week before but the good news was that my healthy tissue was squidgy and padded which meant I'd be mainly dealing with a bad scar on my leg and NOT a hole! I was sent home with the biggest bag of dressings. Yep, you guessed it... I now have to pack and bandage my leg for three weeks. Exactly what would have happened if I had the operations weeks before! The surgeon seemed disappointed I had suffered such an unexpected set back, we were all really hoping the necrosis would just fall off. He gave me a big hug, told me to NOT knock my leg and he'll see me in two weeks.



You're thinking wo wo wo hold up Carelle. A venomous spider was in your house? Yes, it probably came home with me from the supermarket on a bunch of bananas or something. I actually consider myself very lucky as a few years ago a young boy in Essex was bitten in bed by a Brown Recluse spider and died. So heartbreaking and I feel very fortunate to have not had a worse experience.

I am in the process of organising my house to be professionally fumigated and I'm also about to start a course of therapy. Since the spider bit me I have been really battling with my sleep and night terrors. I check the bed sheets for spiders each night, I dream there are spiders in the bed and there have been times when I've stayed at my boyfriend's house and he has been woken up to me running out of bed in my sleep and found me crying and shaking in the corridor. He would then take me back to bed and spend the next hour promising me it was a dream, calming me down and reassuring me there was in fact not a spider caught in the bed sheets. When something affects your subconscious it's a very scary thing and I don't want this to escalate into a genuine phobia so it's important I sort it out now before it gets worse.

I am so relieved the necrotic tissue was removed. It's a huge blow to have my leg bandaged for a further three weeks but I've already done eight, I can do another three. (I'm now on week nine writing this blog post). The pain around the bite has dramatically improved, until I knock it of course! The healthy tissue is looking great and I'm already starting to get scar tissue developing. The biggest pain this week was discovering I was becoming incredibly allergic to the bandages I was given by the hospital. The bite was still giving me neuralgia (nerve pain) which I have grown accustomed to but the entire skin around my bite has been excruciatingly painful. The only way I can describe it is trying to pull off a big plaster and a strip of gauze on a huge patch of fresh sun burn. Again every night my Mum or boyfriend are having to help me change my dressings(I am now using ones I'm not allergic to but still suffering from the aftermath of the reaction). Here's my latest picture from a couple of nights ago. Apologies for the weepy goo...


Visually the bite has improved enormously and as soon as the skin pain around it calms down I'm sure I'll be able to feel a genuine improvement too. I have a further two weeks of having my leg packed and dressed and I am seeing the plastic surgeon again next week for which I hope will be my final ever appointment.

I managed to go to do some work this week for a few hours. Doesn't sound like much but it's a really great start and I'm so happy. I also judged a singing competition for Teen Star last weekend and I am starting to drive my car on short journeys. I'm having to do most things sitting down still as I'm suffering from lots of swelling and I'm paranoid of knocking my leg but these improvements are really exciting. Until I get the all clear from the hospital I won't be completely satisfied but I'm certainly on the mend. I have missed so many great presenting opportunities and I have had to cancel so many of my Radio shows it's been truly gutting but once I'm better I'll certainly make up for lost time.

I would just like to say the biggest thank you to my family. My Dad has done the most incredible amount of research on spider bites and has ensured I am treated by professionals that will do their very best to help me. Huge thank you to my Mum for being so supportive and being a great nurse, my friends for constantly checking up on me and lastly a massive thanks to my boyfriend that has given up his days off to drive me around the country to see specialists, who has bandaged my leg up more times than I can remember, waited in A&E with me for hours and has stayed up with me at night after I've had a bad spider nightmare. Sounds like I've just won an award and that's my acceptance speech. Nope. Just my post spider thank you's. Ya know. What every girl dreams of...

Lastly thank you to those that are reading my blog and for those that have sent me the loveliest messages after reading Part 1 a few days ago. That post has been read nearly 1,000 times in just three days. That's a huge amount for such a new blog like mine. Thank you thank you thank you!

The chances of this EVER happening to you is so unbelievably slim. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was incredibly unlucky but if you ever see an alien like blister appear on your body PLEASE go to the Doctors or A&E straight away. Don't leave it like I did. On a more positive note the spider rid me of my fear of hospitals so I gotta be grateful for something :)

Thanks so much for reading and I'll let you know how I get on at the hospital next week. 

Lots of love

C x

25 comments:

  1. In the nicest sounding was possible, this story is awful! To think something like this could happen from a spider bite, hopefully your own the road to recovery now though :)

    www.isabelwithani.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Isabel! Thank you for reading my post and for your lovely comment. I just checked out your blog. Loved your Parent Trap post :)

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  2. What an awful experience to go through "/ .. your not the only one that checks the bed sheets at night. I'd be prettified too if this happened to me, so glad it's no longer a 'hole' as such and that it's healing. hope your therapy goes good and that you finally find the spider that did bite you or that you find nothing when you re organise :) x

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    1. Hey Allana - Aw thank you :) Keep checking those bed sheets but don't be frightened of it happening to you. I was extremely unlucky! Try not to let things that may never happen worry you. :) xxx

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  3. I just read your story and oh my gosh it sounds horrible! I hope you are recovering well now! If I was in your situation I would be checking my bed 24/7 too don't worry haha, hope you're okay now :) x

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment! :) x

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  4. I just got done reading your story and omg what a horrible thing to go threw . I am fearful of spiders and I would be screaming and checking my sheets 24 / 7 and now when I get home that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm hoping that your healing process is doing good and hope to here that your doing great .

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    1. Sorry to hear you are fearful of spiders too. Try not to let my story worry you too much though, chances of getting bitten are so slim :) Thank you for your lovely comment x

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  5. I am happy that you feeling much better. Please continue to post pics of your healing process. Your story has been most helpful!

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    1. Thank you :) I will be doing another update blog post very soon x

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  6. What a horrible experience! I'm glad your starting to feel a bit better! :)

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  7. Hello carelle, I found this a very interesting read.. My mum sent me the link as she thought I'd be interested as last year I was actually bitten by a spider too (in Scotland!)

    Mine also went necrotic and I spent days in hospital. It took months to heal but now all I'm left with is a large patch of shiny scar tissue on my thigh which will never go away :L

    I don't know if your interested but this is mine, I'll post the link below :)
    https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=886983778015438&id=100001114720470&st=14

    I wish you all the best with healing, and I'll follow your blog for updates xD

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    1. Hi, your link doesn't work :( could you please upload it once again - i have the same story :( or maybe you cant contact me at my gmail: nataliaogorzalek

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  8. A spider bite is smething that terrifies me & you are so brave with what you've been through. I will always be scared of spiders and forever checking the corners of my room, but I know this doesn't happy everyday!

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  9. Hello from across the Pond - in America the state of Alabama. I endured much of what you have gone through about ten years ago. It was a brown recluse spider which is native to our area. The doctors here cored the initial bite almost immediately. It was painful and tough to heal. I finally had enough of the sloughing of skin and necrotic tissue so I began soaking my leg in Epsom salts two or three times a day. That was what finally made the wound heal. Awful nasty stuff oozed out in the water but I was determined. Now I have a lovely scar on my shin and a healthy fear of spiders. Sorry about your ordeal.

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  10. I can sympathize with your pain here. I have been bitten by a Brown Recluse twice in my life, and it is NO fun. Hang in there, and know that I, along with many others are sending you healing energy and peace...

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  11. I don't see why the doctors didn't use medical maggots to eat the dead tissue rather than cut it out. Ive seen them used on diabetic patients and they work miracles. ;)

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  12. I had the EXACT same thing, started with a spider bite, took a year to heal, where I live they give you a zinc cast boot, which goes from toe to knee, and I been all the places you mention in your article, except I saw a Vascular Surgeon. Now I have the scarring & purple tissue, supposed to wear comp. socks rest of life & I'm only 54...turns out I had other issues that caused Venous Insufficiency. Anyway, I don't see which year you published this, so not sure if I'm current or not with this reply....Live in Ontario Canada

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  13. Oops! I just saw now your article was in 2015.....I very much hope they healed it, but if not, GO TO A VASCULAR SURGEON through your GP! In this "neck of the woods" LOL (Ontario Canada) my understanding is that what I had done is the best solution around 50% of all cases heal, which is high given the possibilities! Venous Ulcer.........

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  14. My experience with spider bites: http://zapperdave.blogspot.com/2013/08/spider-bites.html

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  15. So sorry for your encounter. Thank you for your thoughtfulness and courage in sharing.

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  16. Omg my heart goes out to You What a terrible experience! You are on courageous gal!

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  17. Carelle, just read this whilst researching. I went through the same whilst living in a rural Village for 4 years, it was nine months of my life gone - there was no medication and I had to find a way to heal it myself. So, to take away any fear of spiders in your life ever again, research diatomaceous earth and colloidal silver. You make a paste and put it on the bite/bites and they are gone before they can cause any damage. I have been bitten 6 times since then and conquered the little shits. If for any reason you start getting joint pain, I have Lyme disease from tick bites and spider bites - Moringa powder sorts out the pain - Lots of love from South Africa.

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