Two weeks ago, I posted that I was back after yet another lengthy hiatus. In that post, I mentioned that I had been having back problems for quite some time. A couple of days later, not only did my back troubles flare up but I discovered a new oddity.
At the highest point I could reach on my back, I discovered a spot that felt like a rough piece of tape. However I turned, I was unable to see this area and had no idea what it might be. It didn’t hurt. But I couldn’t imagine what it could be. Worse, I guess I COULD imagine what it might be, and my imagination was a bit frightening.
My bedroom closet has two sliding doors that are mirrored on the front. I removed one so that I could use it to view my back via a reflection off of the other (I really need to buy a hand mirror!).
What I saw was a nasty sore the size of a half dollar, dark grey and oozing in the middle, red and badly infected around that. I can’t say that my imagination had come up with anything much worse. Being ten o’clock at night, there wasn’t much I could do but fret about it till morning.
Being in a new town, I wasn’t sure where to go. My PCP is 20+ miles away and I suspected it would be difficult to get in to see him on short notice the week before xmas. This didn’t seem serious enough for the ER, so I looked online to see what else was nearby. The hospital is very close (one of the selling points of my new home), but they didn’t have anything other than PCPs and ER. Google showed a couple of Urgent Care facilities not too far away, so I gave one of them a try.
Short version: 10 minute drive, 90 minutes in waiting room (assaulted by hacking coughs, sneezing, inattentive mothers with screaming babies), hard uncomfortable chairs agonizing my already intolerable back pain, 20 minutes in an exam room before a nurse showed up to start vitals (who was then pulled away and forgot about me for 20 minutes due to short staff), another 10 minutes with another nurse who finally finished taking my vitals before I eventually was seen by a PA.
What I expected was to have the wound lightly cleaned, covered with a 2″x4″ waterproof bandage, and to be sent home with a Z-Pack. Instead, after nearly three hours waiting to talk to a doctor (which I never was able to do), I was told by the PA that she wasn’t willing to do anything without lab work which they aren’t set up to do in-house.
Wow! Just wow!
I can understand wanting to do labs, but how can an urgent care facility not be set up to do lab work?
I was told to go to the hospital. She said they would send an order over and to check in at the front desk and they’d get me right in.
The front desk did not have my order and said they’d call Urgent Care and to have a seat. Twenty+ minutes later I was informed that they still hadn’t received the order and the woman I was talking to suggested I start over and just check in with ER.
The receptionist in the ER checked me right in. Triage nurse never showed up, but another nurse quickly took me to an examination room, collected some info, and then I found myself face to face with a real-life, honest-to-goodness doctor!
It was a long road getting here, but I was ecstatic at the prospect of finally coming to the end of my journey.
I quickly described the situation. He asked me to lift my shirt and show him the wound. In all of ten seconds (with no lab work, mind you) he promptly announced his findings…
You Have a Spider Bite
We’re not talking about those little spiders that everyone has in their homes. About seven years ago, this area became rather infested with something called a “Giant House Spider”. Two year olds are 1″-2″ across and very scary looking. They are aggressive and race towards movement which is very unnerving. The first year they appeared, I counted 50+ in the house over a four month period. They’ve been dying off rapidly since then, to the point that I’ve only seen a couple this past year.
They have a necrotic poison and are genetically very similar to Hobo Spiders. If a Hobo Spider bites you in an arm or leg, you are likely to lose that appendage. If a Hobo Spider were to have bitten me in the back, where this bite was, I would be in very bad shape. There is no treatment for necrotic poison.
Fortunately, Giant House Spider poison is far less dangerous. I had been bitten by two year old spiders twice before (they generally live two years and their poison becomes less effective with age). The site becomes dry, brittle, and discolored and takes quite a number of months to fully heal.
This bite was apparently from a much younger spider (with stronger poison) and the doctor estimated that the wound was about a month old. He said it was probably as far along as it was likely to get and has probably already started healing.
He lightly cleaned the wound, applied a dressing, and sent me home with an anti-biotic.
It didn’t particularly hurt. It was just unnerving discovering an ugly wound like that and not knowing what it was. Whatever my other back pain was from, it also was getting worse. Thus my “return” has been somewhat delayed, but I think I’m past all the drama now.
It’s a few days later now… Merry Christmas! Now on to the posts that I meant to start writing a couple of weeks ago. : )