I had just moved from California to Colorado. My daughter and I were busy unpacking, but took our time to enjoy the first real colorful days of fall.
Just before we left for a barbecue at a friend’s house, I felt what appeared to be a sting or bite on my back. I washed it off and applied calamine lotion. Later that evening my back really started to itch and became painful. So, I applied cortisone cream to the bite and took some Benadryl then drove home.
The next morning I woke up with flu-like symptoms, and immediately noticed the pain and itching had worsened. I looked in the mirror and noticed it was substantially larger and there was now a red ring around the bite with a pus pocket under the skin. I called my sister since she is in the medical field, and drove over for her to take a look at it. When I arrived, she looked at it, her jaw dropped and she said: “You need to go to the emergency room now!” The bite and area around it had grown to 2 inches diameter and now had red streaks about 6 inches long.
Less than 24 hours from the initial bite I was laying in Porter Adventist Hospital, where the surgeon on call quickly arrived. Immediately I was put on an IV to administer antibiotics, and I was told the bite resembled a brown recluse spider. However, this was secondary to what was now a life threatening staph infection. Several hours later, I was released from the hospital with two incisions 4 inches deep and 7 inches wide left open and packed with gauze. For the next month, I would endure the most excruciating pain 3 times per day, while the surgical incisions were packed with gauze and dressed. It is unclear what the direct cause of the Staph infection. After speaking with the doctor, I learned that they see numerous patients a year that think they have a brown recluse spider bite not realizing they have a staph infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) Staphylococcus aureus caused more than 94,000 life-threatening infections and nearly 19,000 deaths in the United States in 2005.