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Monday, July 01, 2019

Dad's Black Widow Story


In the late 60s, Dad’s back problems were making him toss and turn, so he relocated to a mummy bag in the living room so as not to bother Mom with it. At some point, he felt a burr stick him, groggily pulled it off and returned to sleep. A while later, he woke up with a burning pain in the burr spot, turned on the light, and saw a dead black widow where he remembered putting it. He showed Mom a growing red area surrounding what was now known to be a black widow bite. Mom got on the phone to the Emergency Room and to our family doctor’s answering service. The rest of the family started waking up.
My oldest sister put ice cubes in a bread bag and made him keep it there while calls went back and forth between our home and the ER. Our doctor was located, or he started answering, whatever. It was determined that Dad would be taken to the hospital where he’d be given an antidote shot which would make him sick but presumably keep him alive.
Around this time, someone (probably my oldest sister) noticed that the swelling and discoloration had subsided, having gone from hand-sized to coin-sized. Informed of this, the hospital decided he could stay home and avoid the sickmaking shot as long as he kept the ice on it and it continued to improve. So he did, it did, and the bear did.
Nobody really blamed the spider. Dad probably rolled over on it and it reacted. My sister had twice tried to keep a black widow (named Snarky) as a pet, but both died in captivity. The awful part of it all is that Dad was telling Bob and Ann about it afterward, concluding with the observation that though he still had the sacroiliac pain, the aftereffects of the spider encounter were nil, upon which Bob immediately turned to Ann and said “His back is worse than his bite.”
So we killed him.