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Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner

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A Survivor's Story: Brown Recluse Envenomation
By Karla Dorman, The StormSpinner
Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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**Fiction, although I used my name.**

Life changed in one quick instant.

I never saw it coming.  I never felt the bite that would change my life.  It happened just.  That.  Fast.

My name is Karla Dorman.  I am currently in the hospital, undergoing extensive physical thereapy.  They are teaching me how to walk again, because my left leg was amputated due to the aftereffects of being bitten by a brown recluse spider.

It isn't easy.  Let me tell you what happened...

This all began three weeks ago.

I live in Burleson, Texas.  Born and raised here.  I knew we had spiders, but I just left them alone.  How many times had I been warned by Mama to leave them be?  "Don't bother them, and they won't bother you," she always told me.

HA.  Tell that to the one that got me.

I was asleep in my bed.  Never felt the bastard.  When I woke up the next morning, I felt like I was coming down with the 'flu.  Ached all over, felt feverish, too.  Great.  Just what I needed.  First day off in a week, and I have to get sick.  Leave it to me.

Had the damndest stinging sensation in my left calf.  I looked at it.  Didn't seem to see anything, well, maybe a mosquito bite.  (Mosquitoes love me.)  And itched?  Scratched at it, but didn't seem to relieve it.

The longer time went on, the more it began to hurt.  When I next thought to look at it, I was amazed to see a bulls-eye on my calf.  What in the hell???  The center of it was cratered in and very angry looking, the flesh around it was pussy and very swollen.  I had never had a reaction to a mosquito bite like that, so I decided to go to the E.R. and see what was going on.

Just looking at it left me feeling nauseated.  Or maybe I really was coming down with the 'flu.  All I know is that I felt awful.  So I traipsed over to Burleson County.

When I got there, I had to wait for quite a while.  Hurry up and wait.  They finally got me back to a room around three hours later, and by then, I was feeling faint.  It wasn't too soon they had me on a gurney.  EKG leads, IV, the whole schmoo.  They said my blood pressure was rather low.  Funny--I take high blood pressure medication.

I answered their questions as best as I could, which wasn't much, and then overheard talk of a surgical consult.  WAIT A MINNIT.  For a freaking mosquito bite?  Hold ON, here.  Something weird is going on...

This doctor walked in and examined my leg.  He told me that I had been bitten by something, he suspected a brown recluse spider, and that the tissue was necrotic.  English, please.  He said that it was turning gangrenous and needed to be removed.  Oh, and have you eaten?  Who is your insurance provider?  Who is your next of kin?  NEXT OF KIN????  And, please sign here....

That's all I remember.  I found out later that they had me on powerful antibiotics and had had several debridements, where they take off the dead tissue.  To keep me relaxed, they'd knocked me out with IV sedation.  The infection kept spreading, so my leg had to be amputated at mid thigh level.  That was what saved my life.

And all because of a little bitty spider.

(C) Copy written, July 14, 2004, by Karla Dorman.

The Brown Recluse (Scientific name, LOXOSCELES RECLUSUS) is a smallish spider that is primarily found in southern locations of the United States.  It is normally non-aggressive.  It prefers to stay in dark, dry places where it remains undisturbed.  They are most active at night, from Spring to Fall.

They are brownish in color, with a characteristic violin (fiddle) shape on their back.  Hence, they are also called "Fiddlebacks."

Their bite is rarely deadly.  However, local tissue destruction is highly likely, especially if left untreated.  Tissue death can occur and extensive debridement (removal of dead tissue) must be done, up to and including amputation if necessary.

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Reviewed by Mark Lichterman 1/14/2010
Wow, Karla! Thank you for this spectacular story and for this spectacular lesson. I learned a lot about those little brown, fiddle back buggers. Thank you.
Your friend in Southern California, Mark
Reviewed by P. Michaels 6/11/2009
Hi Karla,

Well you had me going there for a while. I thought this actually happened and I was just about to tell you how sorry I was, until I looked above and read it was fiction. I was wondering why you weren't more upset than what your story showed.

Oh, I never knew the word 'that' or the word 'fast' could make whole sentences. Guess maybe you wanted to show emotion. I would probably have placed commas after those words instead of periods. Whatever, it's your story! I shouldn't be telling you how to write it.

Reviewed by John Coppolella 2/18/2009
We have black widow spiders in Georgia. They also like dark, dry places. I remember an incident where fortunately we saw them before they could do any damage to us. A can of Black Flag and a feather duster took care of the whole kit-and-caboodle, which had nested inside of a spare traffic signal cabinet, stored in a warehouse location for the State of Georgia, outside under an interstate bridge where it never got any rain. Pigeons, rats and homeless wino's named Animal also enjoyed the shelter of the bridge. In fact they built the interstate right over the old road and even left standing the building we renovated there, after the right-of-way was purchased and eventually put to greater use by us.

Reviewed by Ed Matlack 2/2/2009
WOW, I am NEVER coming to your area to visit you and those kinds of spider as spider bites I've had and have swollen and such...must be allergic per my doc...this is a scary write...Ed
Reviewed by Axilea MU 9/18/2008
This sounds terrible. I learned about these spiders a couple of months ago. A friend of mine in Southern California was bitten in her garage years ago. Fortunately, a neighbor saw her and she could be saved. Very realistic piece.

Reviewed by Kalikiano Kalei 2/16/2008
A very interesting story, Karla. Add Arabian Camel Spiders to the pantheon of arachnids to avoid. Little Miss Muffet would not have enjoyed such an encounter at all, I am certain!
Malama pono, K2
Reviewed by James Cotton 1/25/2008
Frightening! Having had a couple encounters with nature of a somewhat similar nature (I had to go through the Pasteur Treatment while working with a large animal veteranarian and we treated a horse that had contracted Rabies) I can identify! It was rather informative from all sides. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but put together right, words can be worth even thousands more pictures...your work sure does that right! Keep it up!
Reviewed by Carol Rzadkiewicz 1/6/2008
A well-written piece, and one that definitely strikes home, so to speak, since I was once bitten by a brown recluse and, as result, almost lost my right leg. It was an experience I hope never to have again.

Reviewed by Terry Vinson 9/25/2007
This rings true in so many ways. I've worked as an exterminator (bug stomper) and have battled those evil little freaks to the death on several occasions! Chilling stuff, but very true. Enjoyed it.

Reviewed by David Perry 9/18/2007
I live in the land of snakes and scorpions (which aren't spiders). I have no fear of either of these, but spiders really scare the hell out of me. We get what they call "Desert Widows", black widows but very very fast and enormous, the pest control guy has become my dearest friend! Great write! David.
Reviewed by Verica Peacock 4/3/2007
I had never heard of this particular spider and am only glad we never came across it on any of our visits to America.
A very well written tale. I read it first a couple of weeks ago, but did not have time to post a comment.
I like all your work, Karen, stories and poetry. God bless! love, Verica.
Reviewed by MaryGrace Patterson 2/13/2007
The brown recluse is indeed a dangerous spider..My brOther in law was bitten by one and almost lost his leg.......M
Reviewed by Rhonda Galizia 5/7/2006
karla ~ this is no spin, Storm-girl! I truly WAS bitten by a PA. female Wolf-Spider, that laid her egg sac in my back! It was a ghoulish nightmare! They prey at night also. They spin "silks" or "Shelters" that are white, and thick, and look like a nurse's stockings! Like you, I felt nothing when it happened, but when I was brushing my teeth after my shower, I saw this huge bloody scratch on my front-left shoulder. Like you, I said, what the - I got a mirror to see if there were any others in the back because the scratch went up and over my clavicle - I'm telling you, it was a good 2 1/2 or 3" long! I almost fell dead from sheer horror, when I saw what was on my back! Now, please remember, I had already had my stroke, so I was not exactly capable of reacting quickly - my husband was at work -I WAS ALL ALONE. I cried out to Father God for HEEEEEEEEEEEELLLP!, 'though I could barely make a sound from the fear. But HE hears our silent thoughts and HE heard me. The Holy Spirit immediately told me "SATURATE PAPERTOWELS WITH PEROXIDE AND HOLD IT ON THERE!" well, I was so nauseated and the hole in my back was a flesh-eating hole the almost the size of a quarter - WITH A POPCORN SHELL ALMOND-SHAPED EGG SAC IN IT!
I obeyed the Holy Ghost's command, and screamed, as the pain of trying to get my GOOD LEFT ARM up, was excruciating - but when I finally reached it[high-middle-to the right- and I could not even lift my right arm to assist back then]
the PAIN OF APPLYING PEROXIDE TO ALL THAT RAW FLESH>>>>>>>>i nearly passed out. IT is only the GRACE OF GOD - and my IMMEDIATE OBEDIENCE TO HIS INSTRUCTION - that saved me from being debrided - or worse! At some point, I heard this strange noise of like a suction letting go - the sac had come off! I was hysterical by the time my husband returned.
I had taken neosporin and squeezed a huge amount of it onto one of those extra-large band-aid patches, 4" I think - and put it over the RAW OOZING FLESH! The pain is beyond description. Now, as you know, my step-father was a doctor for 50 years. He always taught me, don't get scared - get educated. So I prayed, got online went to some university library and found out what I needed to know. Then my daughter, Michaelle, called me from NC - it just so happens she was to be having her home sprayed - and when I told her, she was fairly sure what it was. The exterminator returned in 2 days, and she told him, and immediately, he said it WAS the egg sac of a wolf spider - they were taught all of that because of the dangers of the necrotic tissue, etc. Shelley called me back,stat, andI DID go to the hospital ER. Two doctors and several others came in to "look at it"......The sac HAD, indeed, been removed. - They asked, and WHEN I TOLD THEM HOW I KNEW WHAT TO DO - ALL THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN THE ENTIRE HOSPITAL! I STOOD UP FROM THE EXAMINING TABLE AND SAID, "THE BLOOD OF JESUS!" THE LIGHTS CAME RIGHT BACK ON! AND THERE WAS THIS "NURSE" ALL IN WHITE, SMILING AT ME........AS SHE WHISPERED, "AMEN".
THIS IS A TRUE STORY, KARLA...AND I BELIEVE IT WAS ALL DONE FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. it makes me sick to relive it, but i just had to let you know!!! On the other hand, you are truly a gifted writer. love you ~ rhonda
Reviewed by Michael Ault 7/20/2005
Well...this story would Augment mine quite nicely! Great job!

Mike Ault
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/18/2005
thought provoking
Reviewed by A Serviceable Villain 10/13/2004

An exceptional, thought-provoking, and very-well put together write, my friend - super!!

Reviewed by Robert Padget 9/26/2004
excellent poem Karla. I'm glad to read something from you upon my return
Reviewed by Nickolaus Pacione 8/10/2004
I see that you wrote a spider story of your own. I won't go into the details of the horror story I am getting published but this one plays right off my short story, "House of Spiders." Is there some way you can make this one longer by about 4000 words? I am interested in publishing this one. You got something here that is a making for something much longer and darker; I have a spider story as well where the spider in the story is a brown recluse.
Reviewed by Hooves Of Fire 8/8/2004
Oh My, this is a scary bit of writing. I am glad that it isn't true that you lost your limb. Those spiders can sneak up on you, that's for sure. I use my tail to swat flies but the spiders are not so easy to dislodge. But I will watch out for them. They sneak up on you. With squirrels, at least you can hear them coming becaue of the chittering.
Very well written!
Reviewed by Chanti Niven 7/28/2004
Dear Karla,

I have read quite a bit of your work and am so impressed at your skill in almost every creative area. You make your stories come to life and this is no exception. It is horrifying that this actually happens. I live in a part of the world where dangers abound and yet it still amazes me that something as tiny and innocuous looking as a spider can cause so much damage or even kill.
Well done!
Reviewed by A PAX 7/23/2004
what a good warning!!! glad they are not in my neck of the woods!!!
you never know with a bite what will happen.....its scarey......look at me.......i had to put up with rabie shots lol

ty for this story.........pax A
Reviewed by Mr. Ed 7/17/2004
Scary tale, Karla; very glad to hear its fiction.
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 7/14/2004

YIKES! Unfortunately, this story has come true for you, as you have found yourself on the receivin' end of a brown recluse bite, more than once! So sorry this has happened to you; but glad you didn't lose any of your vital body parts! LOL Scary, intense write of the dangers of spider bites; you will educate many with this story! Well done!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your twin (who has been envenomated herself once in the receivin' end; NOT fun!! OW! Spent my time doing my job standing up; NOT comfortable! LOL), Karen Lynn. :(
Reviewed by Michelle Kidwell Power In The Pen 7/14/2004
An amazing story, this is very well written
God Bless

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