Ever Been Bitten By A Spider? I Think I Was Last Week, And It Wasn’t Good

spider cartoonLast Wednesday, before leaving for work, I took Andy (Black Lips Houlihan) for a short walk, so he could pee and log-out. When we returned he went straight for his water bowl, and I came down here to the bunker. I flopped in front of my computer, and the next thing I know… I’m plunged into a world of pain and panic.

Something stung or bit me on the left forearm, and it HURT. I jumped to my feet, did some light flailing and shrieking, and the pain just wouldn’t let go. Usually it spikes, and quickly subsides. But this was spike, spike, spike, spike… Not even a hint of subside. 

While all this was going on, I instinctively pawed at the pain center, and never actually saw what got me. It stung like a bee or wasp. But wouldn’t I have seen something so large? I’m not sure. Afterwards I looked around the room, and saw nothing. It’s still a mystery.

The stinging continued, which was weird. I ran cold water over it, and rubbed the area, thinking there might still be a stinger in there. I even took a credit card and rubbed the edge across the area, because I read somewhere you can get stingers out of your arm (or ass) by dragging a plastic card over top of it.

Within seconds the swelling kicked in, and by the time I arrived at work it looked pretty bad. People were literally gasping when they saw it. There was a large swollen area with a red dot in the middle, and a much larger area around it that was reddish.

But it’s not unusual. I’ve been stung dozens of times, and it’s always a big production. I always turn into Rocky from Mask for a few days. So, I wasn’t all that worried. My only small concern? I wasn’t 100% sure I’d been stung. It could’ve been a spider bite, and that was unknown territory. Ya know?

A few people at my job were aghast, literally aghast, and insisted I needed to be airlifted to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, or whatever. I assured them everything would be OK, but they were spinning doomsday scenarios about Brown Recluse and Wolf spiders, and insinuating that I’d have nothing but a skeleton arm, or a strip of beef jerky sticking out of my shirt sleeve by the next morning.

That didn’t help. They were getting to me, making me slightly paranoid. But I know how I react to bee stings, and this was consistent with previous episodes. I went against my instincts, however, and did a Google search for spider bites. I read that I’d probably be vomiting if it were something bad, and I wasn’t vomiting; I felt fine. So I tried to put it out of my mind.

The next morning I woke up with a goddamn Popeye arm, and a large open sore. It looked horrible, and the skin felt like it was stretched to its fullest capacity. So, I wore a long-sleeve shirt to work, and tried to ride it out. About halfway through the day it started leaking a clear fluid, in great volume. My shirt was soaked, and I was starting to think that maybe I should go see a doctor.

Friday was even worse. My arm was super-red and itchy, and the sore looked like it was bubbling. And was it just my imagination, or I could also hear it sizzling? It was now about the size of a 50 cent piece. Crazy! Again, I wore a long-sleeve shirt to work, and kept wiping away the fluid with napkins. This shit was getting out of hand. But I still felt OK, so I did nothing.

And things got a lot better over the weekend. The swelling is gone, and all that’s left is something that looks like a single slice of pepperoni stuck to my left arm. It’s still not great, but a million times improved over the darkest hours of Friday afternoon.

A few questions:

1) What do you think it was? I’m leaning toward spider, since I was never able to find it. What are your thoughts?

2) I probably should’ve gone to the doctor, huh? This was pretty bad stuff. But it feels like people run to the doctor for every little thing (“I farted this morning, and it sounded exactly like an early Dylan harmonica solo. Is it cancer?!”) I don’t want to be one of those people. Plus, I hate the doctor, and it’s a GIANT hassle: sitting in a waiting room for two hours with people suffering from SARS or African River Blindness… Count me out.

3) Why do people always go to the worst case scenario with everything? One of my co-workers in particular believed this would ABSOLUTELY lead to my death. I mean, it wasn’t even open for debate.

4) And I probably shouldn’t laugh about it, until it’s completely gone, right? That pepperoni slice is still lurking, and changing. I guess it could still do me in. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to get all cocky with it, just yet.

And let me know what you think about this weirdness… Ever since that bite or sting, or whatever, I’ve been walking around humming “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money. Why?? I don’t think I’ve heard that song in years, but it’s now been in my head for days. Do you think the two things are related? Is there a chance this was triggered by the poison? Help me out, won’t you?

Today’s Question is pretty predictable: Please share your horror stories about being bitten or stung. By an insect, or a snake, or a jellyfish: whatever you’ve got. What was the most spectacular example? Please tell us all about it in the comments.

And I’ll see you guys again soon.

Have a great week!

Suggestaholic is reborn! Check it out now.


  1. I am no fan of going to the Doctor myself. But – I think I would have for something like that.

  2. Jazzbone Swirly says

    It’s probably just heart disease. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  3. Jazzbone Swirly says

    Look at it this way, when life hands you a pepperoni slice on your arm, you should make pizza.

  4. Swami Bologna says

    As I read this, and the description of the arm kept getting worse and worse (great pain…swelling…red dot…Popeye arm…open sore…skin stretched to capacity…leaking fluid in great volume…bubbling sore), and reading Jeff’s reaction to each new development — Better put on a long-sleeve shirt! Yeah, go to work and ride it out! — I kept waiting for the punch line, and Jeff to say, “Hah, yeah, right! As if I’d let all that happen without rushing to the emergency room.” But, no, he really did just totally ignore symptoms that could’ve easily led to an arm amputation, or death. Scary.

  5. The Qweezy Mark says

    I haven’t been to a doctor in a decade and would never go for anything less than a leg dangling by a single string of meat, BUT………..I would definitely have gone with those symptoms. At least to a CVS Minute Clinic. Call me Qweezy!

  6. squawvalleyskip says

    I can relate to the wait and see what happens next thing. Pretty much what I’d have done in the same situation. But I don’t get too swelled up by most bugs. Spiders, I can’t say I really know. Some days when the orange groves are being pollinated and I’m riding through the bees on my bike I’ll get stung a half dozen times or more. I just ride on the 25 miles or so to the house, get out my pocket knife and scrape out the stingers. I get what looks like a mosquito bite that lasts about 20 minutes after that, and it itches like mad the next couple days. The only time a bee sting ever made me stop on the side of the road was the time I caught a stinger in the eyeball. I stopped, but my eyes were watering too bad to see the stinger. So I rode home with my right eye closed. I went in and laid down for a couple hours, and when I got up I felt something in the corner of my eye. I scratched at it, and out came the stinger. The pain left immediately, much to my relief.

  7. madz1962 says

    This is eerie funny you should mention this. This morning I was brushing my hair and even without my coke bottle eyeglasses, I could see that my left eyelid was red and swollen. Now it feels like the skin is being pulled down. I’m wondering myself if maybe a spider bit me. Nothing stings and I didn’t eat anything I’m allergic to (I had the Billy Joel bulging eyes before from eating soft shell crabs). but this is just bizarre. If this sucker starts leaking I am FLYING to the doctor.

    • Sounds like something that happened to me a couple years ago. I have an eye doctor as a tenant next door to me and had him take a look at it. He told me I had constipated oil glands in my eye lid and that I should put hot compresses on it for 30 minutes 2x a day. Went away in a week. Came back again a few months later and did the same thing and it went away again.

  8. Bill in WV says

    If your jaw jutted to one side, like Buddy Hackett when you were hearing “Take Me Home Tonight”, you have what is commonly known as EMoneyitis. If the songs continue to get worse and worse, you definitely have it.

  9. I don’t think a spider bite would hurt as bad as you described. A wasp sting however hurts like hell and, if I can trust Stephen King, they don’t leave their stinger behind like a bee. You can thank Suggestaholic and The Shining for the last part.

  10. Yikes!!!

    Both Biff and I were bit by the same dang spider a couple of years ago. Both woke up with the bite, mine on the inner part of my left forearm, his on the inner part of his right forearm. Best as we can figure, it was IN BED with us while we were sleeping and bit us nearly simultaneously. Big suck, too – could see each individual fang mark.


    Yes, you should have gone to the doctor.

    • madz1962 says

      Jibblies will now make its way into my vocabulary. Excellent descriptive word.

    • johnthebasket says

      I enjoy your comments. I am wondering what kind of forensic investigation you undertook to establish the simultaneity of the bites. I would just go screaming out of the house, like a virgin fleeing the plague, but you took the time to determine that the bites were proximate in time.

      Also, based on the respective locations of the bites, we could deduce the relative positions of you and hubby at the time of the attack, but that seems intrusive.

      And speculating on why a talented, creative, articulate writer who is paid to certify forklift operators while watching Letterman retire refuses to seek medical attention when he is suffering from life-threatening limb infarction, avascular necrosis and arm-involved Alien syndrome reminds me of that Charles Bronson movie. You know, Raid on Entebbe.

      my best wishes,

  11. Steve in WV says

    And now that damn Eddie Money song is stuck in my head. Thanks for that.

  12. I would have been at the Urgent Care right quick, given a Popeye Pepperoni like that.

    I’ve had ticks here and there, but never a spider bite to my knowledge. One time I was mowing the lawn and ran over an in-ground nest of some kind of bees. I took one to the achilles tendon and one to the breastbone. While running and shrieking, as one does.

    • Clueless says

      I did a serious mow-over on a yellow jackets’ nest once. Something like 23 stings that hurt like hell for two days and itched like the devil for another two weeks. And yeah, I screamed. Lots.

      I also found another nest while weeding around the azaleas a few years back. Fingers do a wicked swelling thing when stung.

      • Oh yeah, that’s my sting story too. I ran over an in ground yellow jacket nest with the mower, got 5 or 6 stings and I ran into the house screaming like a little girl. The damn things followed me, and were buzzing around trying to get into the house. I found out later they put a chemical homing beacon on the target, so the swarm know “go sting that”.

        At dusk the next day I nuked that nest Tarantino-style with a can of poison in each hand, then ran into the house screaming like a little girl, on the off chance I had missed some.

        Today I have lawn service.

  13. Do you now have a “spidey-sense” tingling or sticky stuff coming out of your wrists? If you’re lucky, maybe you were bitten by the same spider as Peter Parker! 🙂
    If there weren’t two bite marks at the center, it probably wasn’t a spider. It kind of sounds like the same reaction I have when I’m bitten by a deer fly or horse fly…those suckers HURT!

  14. sunshine_in_va says

    Pix or it didn’t happen.

  15. MikefromLI says

    Wait – this happened last Wednesday and you waited until today to tell us!!! What if you ended up with a skeleton arm, or a strip of beef jerky sticking out of your shirt sleeve and unable to type an update. What would become of us??

    I mean really, you need to more considerate 😉

  16. sunshine_in_va says

    Stepped into a nest of fire ants down in Bastrop TX. I’d only known about fire ants for a little while yet instinctively I jumped and ran when my foot sank unnaturally into the ground. I was quick (I was younger then!) but 2 or 3 still got inside my shoe.

    Later that summer I packed my car to move back to Ohio in my bare feet. Big mistake as one of those little buggers got between two toes. Talk about “feel the burn”.

    • johnthebasket says

      I’ll admit it’s none of my business, but why did you move to Ohio in your bare feet?


  17. PamInPam says

    If you notice a creeping redness up and down your arm (like streaks) that gets worse, even if the lump is gone, you may want to consider an urgent care visit. Spreading redness around a skin wound would indicate cellulitis, and if it starts to streak or get blotchy, the infection has entered the lymph system, which is like the superhighway to the internal organs. Or, you can just life-hack it and elevate & bathe the affected area in tea tree oil (and use hot compresses on the lump/abscess) for several days to kill the infection. I guess a long-sleeve shirt also works. 🙂

  18. I was using my dad’s tractor with a rear mounted brush hog mower to clear the neighbor’s property. I ran over a yellow jacket nest. The yellow jackets swarmed and began to sting. I quickly determined that it was time to go. I put the tractor into neutral and jumped off. The brush hog was attached to a PTO which also connected to the tractor’s rear wheels. The inertia of the brush hog blades spinning kept the tractor moving forward. I figured out later that if I had been mowing faster the tractor would have crashed into the neighbor’s auto. Luckily the tractor coasted to a stop a few feet away. I was hauled to Doctor Lane’s office as I was solid welts & misery. Got out of a few days of high school which was nice but I wouldn’t willingly do it again.

  19. signs point to the typical reaction to a bite from Arachnis Cancerous, a specific kind of spider whose bite causes cancer in the arm region. It is in fact, terminal.

  20. Duuuuude.

    I just got finished changing a dressing on a guy where I could stick my arm under the skin by his butt and come out on the inside of his thigh. It was one of the worst I’ve seen truthfully. He got hit by a bus, but still I wouldn’t take any chances if I were you.

    Swelling ala Popeye along with drainage is a go the Emergency Room kind of problem.

    I don’t send people there lightly, and have been known to ask “So why is this an emergency now?”.

    I’d still follow up with a Doc just to be sure there’s nothing going on under there.

  21. Man you are insane for not going to the hospital, but being male, I can definitely understand the ‘not going to the doctor’ thing. I’ve been stung by many different things, even a scorpion (the beige colored ones in Missouri, not the big black ones like in Arizona) and I’m fortunate to not be allergic to any of that kind of stuff. I sure sympathize with people who are ‘allergic’ to bee stings and the like.

    I’d suspect that it was a spider of some sort. While nothing else gives me any lingering symptoms, I did get bit by a spider once, and that sucker swelled up to the size of a quarter – to this day I can still see the remnants of that – a nice little purple scar on my hip. And its been 2 years ago.

    Like someone else mentioned, if you see red streaks, or it increases in size again, get thee immediately to a medical facility.
    It probably won’t hurt to go see a doctor now, just to be safe. You’ve got a family to worry about – don’t be an idiot.
    Here endeth the lesson.

  22. I’ve been bitten by a spider onceon the bottom of my leg.I had a red lump at first so I thought it was a gnat bite and I left it but the next day I had massive swelling around it about the size of a large shot putt. I ignored it again but told my parents just in case. The next day it had bruising around it and some blisters and then a rash travelled up my leg. My mum took me to A&E even though it was 1 o’clock in the morning! We had it assessed and they said I might have had an allergic reaction to a gnat bite but they wanted me to a see a doctor anyway. At about 5 o’clock in the morning the doctor told me it was a spider bite and that I had had an allergic reaction and it had ejected a lot of poison into me. I was so scared but I’m fine now even though the bite marks are still there I’m just glad it’s gone ??