Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I didn't sleep very well last nite. Was up til about 1a. Got up at 5a w/Dave as usual to make his lunch and sit with him til he left for work. Put the baby (he's 4 in May) in the bed with me and tried to go back to sleep. Imagine my pleasure being awakened by the boys telling me they found a spider. There was a tiny spider in the kitchen yesterday they were looking at and I thought it may be the same one.

Not so.

Turns out my lovelies found a new friend. And they brought it with them. They had this one inch spider captured in one half of a metal ball ornament (the kind that you open and put a trinket in). I'm half asleep and they are shoving a spider in my face! I made them put it outside. I'd like to say I was nice about it but that would be a lie. "GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!!!" was uttered a coupla times. (I'm new to this blog thing and if I wasn't so tired, I might've had the presence of mind to take a picture to show y'all!)

Spiders never used to bother me. But, two months before I got out of the Army, I was bitten by a brown recluse. Here's the story:

So there I was....

Stationed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ. I had ACQ. This stands for assistant CQ. (That's right, can't remember what CQ is. I wasn't the best soldier.) ACQ is this boring 24 hour detail where you have to sit in the barracks at a desk and answer the phone. Luckily, being in the medical unit (our motto is, "We sham"), the desk I was at was outside the CO's office (Commanding Officer - I know that one) and if front of a TV. That current CO was addicted to daytime talk shows. Anyway, at some point in the evening I sat on the little couch in the day room, sighing a happy sigh that the CO had gone home and I could stop listening to people's oversized dramas. When I sat down, I felt a pinch in the back of my leg. I stood back up and saw a crushed spider and a pen. I thought it was the pen that had poked me. That was Thursday.

On Saturday, I went to the ER with a really painful lump on the back of my leg. The ER doc had me lay face down in my underwear and looked at it. Poke, poke poke. uhm, ow! Then he brings the intern over to have a look. Poke, poke, poke. OK, Stop! They gave me oral antibiotics and kicked me home, telling me to go to sick call on Mon. morning. I drove home and took my pills.

Sunday nite at about 3a, my Rottweiler (Maggie) jumped up on the bed. (I shared my twin bed with her, my cat Oscar and my small wiry terrier Toto.) Maggie just barely brushed the back of my leg where the lump was and w/o any preamble I threw up on the bed from the pain. (It only gets worse from here people. Those with weak stomachs should turn back now.) Imagine how pissed I was having to wash my comforter in the tub at three in the morning and then having to deal with sick call in a few hours.

Sick call. One of the strangest things about the military. You know how when you're really sick or when you have a golf-ball sized lump of pain on the back of your leg you can just call in to your job and get a sick day? You know, because you're a responsible adult and you know when your too sick to be at work?

Not so in the Army, my friends. In the Army, no matter how sick you are (excepting ER sick), you have to haul your sorry flu-ridden, germ-spreadin' ass into work, report for duty, and then ask permission to go see a doctor. Then this doctor determines whether or not you are actually sick enough to go home. It rarely depends on your actual level of health and usually depends on the day the doc is having.

OK, so Mon. morning, I drive on post (I had this lovely little mobile home off-post) to go to check in and get my "hall-pass" to go to sick call. (I had actually made the dr. from ER write me a note to make sure my psycho major would have to let me go to sick call.) When driving in that morning, I had to use my left leg since, as evidenced the night before, any pressure on my right leg was unbearable. I get to sick call and check in, tell them the ER doc told me to come in Mon morning and take a seat. For two hours. (See, btw ACQ and the ER wait and the sick call wait, I could've knit an entire sweater had I known how to knit back then!)

Finally it's my turn and I go into the exam room, tell them my issue and my pokey adventures in ER and they give me the gown and come back with a dr and a chaperone. Now, I work in the hospital and granted, I'm just an optician (we screened the patients for the optometrists) but I know strange and worried whispering when I hear it. Then they bring in the sweet, old, civilian dr. OK, now I'm worried.

They are whispering again until I tell them, "Hey! I'm right here. Just tell me!" So they do. They were discussing whether or not to admit me for IV antibiotics! They decide on an I&D - incision and drainage. (Again, it's just gets worse from here.) They took this 3" needle on a hypodermic full of anesthesia, they curved it and buried it four times into my leg (to the left, right, above and below the lump).

I told the doc I didn't want to see him cut me but I wanted to see what came out (because I'm just that gross). He said fine. I couldn't feel the cut but I felt, I don't know, the pressure of the knife. The chaperon exclaimed, "OHMYGOD!" Again, we all know each other in the hospital and I looked at her in disbelief, "Way to reassure the patient, Cheryl!". Then I looked back at my leg. ohmigod, indeed.

There was this thick yellow pus just flowing out of the incision. The doc made the hole bigger and started cleaning out the wound. It took almost ten minutes and then he got deep enough that he hit tissue below where the anesthesia needle hit! I bout came off the table. He apologized and squirted a lot more numbing goodness into the hole. Then he starts pulling out what he calls necrotic tissue (that's dead stuff to you and me, Rusty).

OK, so when he finally finishes, he puts a long Qtip in the hole and pulls it out to show me how deep the damage was. He said, "Thank goodness you came in today. If you had let it go any longer, it would've started eating muscle tissue." I replied, "Wow,doc. Three inches deep and it didn't hit muscle? Thank god I'm fat!".

I told him how I hadn't waited this long, how I'd been to the ER on Sat. and they sent me home. He took the ER doc's name and later wrote the guy up. He packed the wound with antiseptic gauze strips and sent me home w/T3's (Tylenol w/codeine). He told me I was going to have to come back twice a day for a week so they could pull out the gauze and repack it. So basically I spent a week at home, high on T3's. My friend JD (John Dunn, where are you?) had to come pick me up and take me home twice a day for this procedure. (T3's made me feel like my head was floating above my body on a string - no driving.)

It was possibly the most painful week of my life. That was 1994 and I still have a scar on the back of my leg. People in the know who've seen it, tell me it looks like a bullet wound. Hate spiders.

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