Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Bite of the Spider

Several days after my grief stricken bout with Mr. Southern Comfort I noticed the red spots on the top of my left foot were worse. It had an luminous quality around the punctures. I had been on an antibiotic for a severe sinus infection so I thought little about it. I do remember that my hangover had been the worst one ever with chills and fever and bouts of vomiting. Not what I would call ordinary for a well seasoned drinker like me. I chalked it up to not eating and went on with my life, at least until I could no longer go on with my life.

About a week or so later I couldn't even put pressure on my foot. I was using a walking stick or Jack's arm to walk and my foot was red in the center and grey around the outsides of the bite, a translucent shiny kind of grey almost silver. The pain was intense and so I decided to head over the mountain to the clinic and find out what on earth had bitten me?

The emergency doctor took one look and said some latin name. I asked for a translation and he said " Brown Recluse Bite" and prescribed a much stronger anibiotic and gave me instructions for caring for my foot. He said it could get much worse if I let it go and showed me pictures of horrendous cavernous ulcers from spider bites. Well, that was enough to scare me into following orders. The local nurse followed up with me and eventually the foot healed. Even so for over 6 months I had times of extreme weakness which came and went unexplained. I attributed it to the bite.

Brown Recluse Spiders are not at all interested in biting people but they hide in houses and can go up to 6 months without food. I believe when I stuck my foot under the radiator in the corner of the bathroom I threatened this spider's domain and he promptly bit my foot. That certainly made me think about using a different form of grief therapy in the future!

For years after I would not let my hands or arms fall off the bed when I was sleeping. I lived in old houses and wanted nothing to do with hiding spiders, or for that matter even bold ones either.

Could I Have Stopped This?

After Jack and I were together for awhile in Jemez I got a call from my old roomie. She sounded funny... like flatline. She told me her baby had died, strangled in the crib. I was shocked. That precious little 8 month old girl was gone and Linda was left with nothing but sorrow. How? What happened I wanted to ask? She told me the time of the visitation and the funeral and got off the phone. Later, when I went down to the visitation, I learned more.

 When I moved out Linda needed another paying roommate and finally found some guy to move in to the other side of the house. He had gotton a new puppy and then when he went out for the night the puppy howled and whined all night so Linda got virtually no sleep. The puppy finally quit yipping about 9 a.m. and she took that opportunity to lie down and catch a quick nap. The baby was quietly playing in the crib. When Linda awoke she found the infant had worked her way down the side of the crib between the mattress and the side. The deeper she went the tighter the crib rail was against her little throat and she had suffocated.

 It seemed like such a travesty to me. I was shaken. If only I hadn't moved or that guy hadn't moved in. If only... (and I am certain Linda if only'd her way through months of self questioning.)  I knew that crib had play between the mattress and the rail. Why didn't I do something about it?

The ride back up the mountain was longer than usual. When we got to Jemez the Los Ojos was hopping. It was about 9 p.m. and the band was starting to play. I walked in and ordered a double southern comfort and said "Keep them coming!" Jack had gone with me to the wake and he decided to not drink much that night, just to keep an eye on me. I danced and cried once in awhile when I told my friends what had happened. I drank many a double before that night was done. It was hot in the bar so about midnight I went out and sat on the woodpile and talked to someone for awhile. Jack was right there with me. Mike was with Shirley as I remember it.

I was blaming myself for not doing more to help Linda. Poverty is a pervasive thing and it invades your thinking and makes you choose the lack of action many times as it is frightening to think of not having the money to go forward in a positive direction. I knew Linda was affected by her poverty. Of course after about 10 double southern comforts on the rocks my thinking was affected more by my sadness compounded by alcohol than anything else. I really didn't want to think so back inside to dance with a vengeance and shake off my mood.

Finally the band packed up and the place shut down. Now when I was drinking much I never would get into a vehicle. I do not know that this was some sign of responsibility or if I just always threw up if I rode in a car when drunk. At any rate Jack had his hands full with me that night. He walked me back to the motel and I fell into bed for awhile, later slept on the bathroom floor near the commode. It was a tiny bathroom so I stuck my feet under the radiator in the corner past the tub. This will prove to be important to remember in the days to come. I didn't dream that night, so no nightmares of the tiny baby girl I loved to play with in her casket.

When I got up in the late, late morning I noticed a red puncture mark on top of my foot and wondered what kind of bug had bit me. Whatever it was bit me twice it looked like. I didn't think much more about it as I had one giant headache and had to rethink the wake and the sad tale that led up to it again only this time soberly. I wondered for a long time if I could have stopped her from dying.