1980 Black Widow

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1980 Black Widow.png
1980 Black Widow.png
Black Widow Spider

Being bitten by a black widow spider was not fun. I'd gone frogging, and then later had these muscle spasms, puking, and writhing in pain. My Mom said, "Food poisoning, next time don't eat frogs", and left me for a party. I spent the evening curled up in cramping pain, until I passed out. Later while retelling the story to a Marine/Friend, he laughed and explained that's what a black widow does, as he'd gotten envenomated as well. That explains why it was like no food poisoning I've had before or since: avoid it, if possible. You probably won't die, but it's no fun at all.


I was bit by a black widow once... I think. What had happened, is I went frogging (which I did from time-to-time). I had gone to a new area (the same are where I later stopped a rape. This area had a stagnant pond and was particularly overgrown with weeds and brush, but was full of frogs. I mean brimming with them, and this was virgin territory. So I had a particularly rich haul. After going frogging, I got home, cooked up a batch with a friend, as I often do (egg, a little corn-meal, pan fried: nom nom). A feast for a couple of survivalists.

Frog Legs
Frog legs are awesome tender chicken legs, that fry up nicely, and we had a lot of ponds and streams that were full of frogs. I tried shoot them with guns or slingshots -- the problem is, even if you could hit them, they got one last jump, and were out in the pond, and a pain to retrieve.

Then I figured out a trick: a fishing pole and a feather lure (and a weight). You cast that over the reeds and weeds, and if the lure got within 3' feet of them, they'd jump for it, and you reeled them in. I could get 10 or 20 in an afternoon, and have a feast. more...

Later than afternoon, I was feeling really sick, nauseous, feverish, and these cramps. My stomach felt like someone had punched it. I went in the bathroom and heaved until I was dry heaving, and was really, really hurting. My Mom came down, and was heading out to party, and I told her I was "really sick, and needed to go to the Hospital". (As I hate the doctors, this was not a common occurrence for me).

My mother has the compassion and maternal instincts of Andrea Yates. While she never drowned me in a tub, I'm pretty sure the thought crossed her mind. And as had happened when I broke my arm, or other various things, she blew me off, said she was going out and would be back later and should, "sleep it off". And tittered about, "what did I learn about eating frogs?" Yeah, thanks Mom.

I knew how to cook things, well. No bacteria survives frying, and I'd done this a dozen times before. And I called my friend who had them with me, and he wasn't sick. It kept getting worse. My abdomen was cramping and spasm'ing. I lifted my shirt, and I could see ripples/waves of cramps going across it. It looked like an alien.

After a few hours of writing on the couch, crawling to the bathroom, and drinking water so I'd have something to throw up, I kind of passed out to exhaustion. I woke up the next day, mostly fine -- just left-over pain from having every muscle in my core spasmed/cramped. And that was actually the last time I went frogging. I wasn't sure what that was, but I never wanted to go through that again. Ever.


A few years later, I was telling this story to a friend (who was a Marine), and he laughed out loud. Dude, "you were black-widow bit".

He went on to elaborate that the same thing happened to him while trudging through weeks in the south, and he said same exact symptoms. Especially the muscle spasms in the core. And the doctors at the infirmary diagnosed him and found the bite. I researched it, and the symptoms were exactly what I'd gone through.

Well damn, that made a lot more sense than food poisoning, as I had food poisoning before and many times after, and never, ever, had a reaction like that. And while trudging through the brush and weeds, you're always getting poked in the legs with stuff. Bug bites and stings weren't that uncommon, and I was pretty good at removing ticks. (I found that my solder iron was a precise way of removing them). So the likelihood that if I did get bit, I wouldn't even notice was pretty high. And the symtoms and degree of pain were far, far better explanations.

After years of being mocked by my family for getting food poisoning by eating frogs, I told my Mom of what really happened, and how much pain I was in. She shrugged and said, "you lived" and inferred that I was some sort of drama queen. Yeah, I hated doctors. There were like 4 times in my life I asked to go to the doctors:
  1. after delaying treatment, they found that I had broken my arm
  2. a fever to sweats and delusions (that turned out to be the mumps)
  3. the time I got poison oak all over my junk] and swelled to be a cartoon porn-character.
  4. And the time I was writhing in pain after eating frogs.

So I consider myself a black widow bite survivor. It was not a pleasant experience, at all. I'm not really spider phobic, but if I see one, I'm going to burn the place down and move to a new home.


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