Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Some of my blogging friends do wonders with pictures. I wish I could take pictures of spiders, but as soon as I see them I squash them! I'm usually quite calm when I see a spider (or insects flying about the house): I tell Lois to kill them. But I have a good reason for becoming more active in my response.

I like spiders. They kill and eat other insects and keep the mosquito population (for example) under control. But at this moment I am in an uncharitable mood. Spiders bite! At least I think that's the problem. Here's my story.

Two weeks ago and a bit, I found a swelling on my neck. A couple of days later the swelling migrated to my left eye. Now I already feel self-conscious about the 58-year-old bags under my eyes. Usually I don't mind them: badges of honour I think. But when they fill with fluid and make me look puffy and drunk, I don't like them! At first I thought the swelling might be a reaction to a medication I had started taking. (One of those 50something things that 20somethings don't understand. I didn't 30 years ago. I do now.) I went to the doctor and showed him the original swelling and my puffy eye. He took me off the medication, but added that both looked more like the result of a spider bite to him than anything else.

So the saga began. I remember now that I have had similar swellings on my neck for some months, but disregarded them since they went away quickly enough. The doctor (who used to practice in Indiana) observed that our Manitoba spiders do not produce as severe a reaction as bites down south. That's good, but I kept checking for bites.

They came regularly. Over the past two weeks I have had bites on my scalp and neck almost every night. At least I think they're spider bites. The most compelling evidence came last week. I woke up to feel something on my ear, slapped at it, then turned on the light. Lo! A dead spider on my pillow! I thought, "Great! Now I can sleep without getting bitten!"

No such luck. The bites kept coming. Finally Sunday afternoon Lois and I pulled the bed out, cleared everything from under the bed (no more boxes of memorabilia there), and vacuumed carefully, including the baseboard. Lois performed a temporary plugging of a hole in the corner that could have been providing access for the spiders. Then we moved everything back into place.

Sunday night I tried to sleep, but Monday morning I found three more bites on my scalp, along with a puffy left eye. Back to the doctor, who saw no infection in the eye, so no real problem, but agreed that the bites were a nuisance. I also killed a spider that I found on the floor. I think it got lost trying to get back home after feasting on me! Lois had plugged its usual escape route, so it wandered about the floor until morning. I killed another downstairs this evening, which may or may not be connected to our bedroom spiders.

This morning I think there were no new bites. My eye has returned almost to normal. The swellings on my head have migrated together into one lump on the back of my neck, and I'm waiting to see what happens tonight.

"What happens to Lois?" I hear you ask. They don't bite her. If they did, I might suspect bed bugs or mites or some other pest. But she has escaped unscathed. She buries her head under the blankets every night, as she has for a long time. The spiders can't find her! So they crawl over the head they find -- mine. I've tried to copy her, but 58 years of sleeping habits can't be so easily undone. I think that all I've done is make sure that the bites are on my scalp.

I don't even know for sure that spiders are the problem. I do know that the swellings are not from the medication! I feel like I need my old mosquito net from sleeping in Zambia. If anyone has any advice or help for me, let me know!


KGMom said...

You're back. And here I stopped checking.
No advice right now on the spider problem. Will cogitate some and then see if I get brilliant.

Denise said...

Awwwww – the poor little spiders. All they want is to have some fun in life and party on your head! Can you deny them that one little moment of fun?? I say it is time to embrace our sweet little nocturnal insects and…forget it! I hate spiders. However, I have a co-worker who actually rescues them from my office. She picks them up and takes them outside or wherever. She said that sometime they wrap their little legs around her finger as if to say, “thank you, thank you, thank you for rescuing me from the big, bad woman who likes to kill us”… We are having a huge problem this fall with spiders in our house. I must admit, that after working with this woman I do look at them a bit differently. Still don’t like them though!! Hope you figure something out soon. No fun getting bit at night.

How does Lois breathe all covered up? I can’t stand having anything over my nose while sleeping. It makes me feel claustrophobic!