I seem to have an awful lot to write about today. I’m glad this next post didn’t turn out to be as scary and worrying as I first thought it would. At about half six this evening I was really thinking Samuel was going to be in big trouble.
We were outside on the front porch waiting for Daddy to get home. I’d got out the new construction paper and crayons, and Sam was sat at his picnic table having a great time with the fingerpaints. He’s not too interested in smearing the paint around with his fingers, but loves to squeeze the paint out of the tubes. He was also excitedly matching the crayons to the paint by colour and I was having a great time watching him.
Then he got up and started giving a plastic foot pump a great deal of attention. I didn’t think much of that at first and just went to put it out of the way. That changed when I bent down to take it from Sam and a little shiny black spider had me transfixed. It was flexing its long delicate legs and had a tight round body. Sam was very engrossed and kept reaching for it.
Before I could even blink I grabbed Sam and charged him through the house and into the nursery. He was screaming bloody murder, howling and shrieking and I had no idea if he’d actually been bitten, was scared by his mum yanking him away and banishing him to his room, or that maybe I’d hurt him a little as I’d grabbed him so frantically.
I left him crying in the nursery and ran back to investigate the spider because I had a terrible inkling that it was a black widow. My suspicions were confirmed when I gingerly examined the arachnid that was beginning to unfreeze and scuttle off into a corner. Flipping it over revealed those ominous red markings. Spider then scurried away back beneath the foot pump and as I jumped and pushed the pump away from me I think I accidentally (but unashamedly thankfully) killed it. I placed an empty jam jar over what I hoped was a carcass, just in case, and it’s still there now.
Running back to Sam, I found him calmed down greatly but acting a little wobbly. He was doing his usual reaching for his books but wasn’t being his usual assertive self and was tripping over his feet a lot. Examining him for a bite was hard as he was covered in paint and I didn’t want to waste time bathing him as I didn’t know what the symptoms might be, or if I ought to be acting quickly. At this point I was rather worried.
Reaching for the internet I tried to Google for poison control and black widow bite symptoms and couldn’t pull a page up. I wasn’t sure if I ought to be panicking and dialing 911 but as Sam was wandering around fairly happy I decided to try Bill for advice first. He confirmed that poison control was the place to call and of course their number then decided to pop up in my browser. I hung up on Bill and called them.
A very nice man calmly answered and as soon as I mentioned the spider, immediately dissipated my fretting. He said it was very unlikely that Sam had been nibbled as the bite is incredibly painful and he would certainly have let me know. This eased my fears but I was still concerned because of Sam’s intense reaction when I had grabbed him…had he got to the spider at the same time?
He then explained that even if the spider had bitten my little guy, apparently the only people at real risk following a black widow bite are infants (younger than six months), the very elderly, and people with high blood pressure. At seventeen months Sam is small, but considered low risk. He told me that the neurotoxin causes incredibly painful muscle cramps and abdominal pain that last several days but it doesn’t necessarily require hospital treatment. Visiting an ER would just monitor, help to lessen the pain and try to make the patient comfortable. Not quite the painful death sentence the myth of the black widow had cast in my mind, and that had come bubbling out this evening. Thank goodness!
I was advised to watch him for the next two hours. If he had been bitten the first symptoms would occur between 30 mins to two hours after the bite, and he would soon tell me about it. The toxin is not a stealthy variety that damages silently but starts with intense stomach cramps that then spread to the muscles. Sounds awful, but Mr Poison Control assured me that’s a good thing…it’s good to have warning signs.
I checked that if he was to exhibit symptoms that it would be okay to just bundle him into the car and drive to the ER rather than divert 911 resources and was assured that would actually be the best action to take. Calling 911 wouldn’t be any more helpful.
With that all said and me breathing again, he then had obviously picked up on my accent along the way as he made a comment about Georgia being an ex British penal colony and chuckled at my reaction to the black widow, me being a British transplant and unused to such poisonous eight legged lurkers. The guy was great, professional with his advice, coupled with snippets of relaxed chit chat which eased the tension.
Obviously Sam has had plenty of hugs this evening but is just fine. No cramps – yay!
I’m going to be much more careful about checking the front porch before we go out there to play now, and the number for poison control is going on my fridge as soon as I post this entry. Which is now