Instead of coming to the surface and breaking out, the itchy-burny-hurty toxins spread out into the rest of my instep and into my head….


A month ago, I was bitten by a spider. Or something. I don’t know, because I never even saw the thing – I was sleeping.

It got me seven times – one on my left thigh, one on my right thigh, and the rest in a trail all the way down to my instep.

Even though I was asleep, I knew something was going on, because I remember being conscious of my legs itching like fire.

The one on my instep was the worst. It was making me crazy until I finally woke up.

I had been trying, in my ultimate sleep-state wisdom, to scratch the bite on my instep with the heel of my other foot.

Because my heel was a large flat surface, rather than the sharp little ends of fingernails, instead of coming to the surface and breaking out, the itchy-burny-hurty toxins spread out into the rest of my instep.

I ended up with a lymph-filled blister about the size of a quarter within a red circle a bit bigger around it. It not only hurt and burned like crazy, but itched even worse.

I watched that red circle carefully – I knew darn well if it got worse it would be time to go for a ride to the ER. But it didn’t. And the other bites stayed small, although insanely itchful. So I didn’t hurry on out the door.

I made the mistake of posting on facebook, saying, “I just got bit by a spider! Itches and hurts like nutso!”

Everyone and his left brother and sister decided to lay the advice on thick.

Do this, do that, don’t do that, for crying out loud go to the doctor, take this remedy, use this essential oil, don’t poke the blister, do poke the blister, you could die if you don’t go to the doc! You could die if you don’t put this medicine on right now! You could die … !

I was stunned. Of the multitudes who thought their way was the only way  -  and some even got into arguments about which something was better than the other - only two people out of all of those actually asked me how I was doing.

Only one asked if she could help, if there was anything I’d like her to do for me.

I think what struck me the most was how every single one of the commenters was a good-hearted, caring person. Not one had malicious intent. Yet all but those two people violated my autonomy by spewing opinions and advice, not asking how I was, or if I wanted help.

Have you noticed how loud, boisterous and downright invasive, just simply rude, online comments have become?

I don’t like it. I felt physically attacked.

Why do people think it’s OK to make unsolicited suggestions and advice? (And yes – guilty! I do it, too!)

Is the very act of posting online a silent invitation for anyone to do so?

Am I missing something here?

I view posting in social media like being in a conversation. If someone says something online, I don’t immediately run over and blurt out my sage advice – I wait until it’s obvious the person is open to hearing other’s ideas.

Am I being old-fashioned? Out of step? Obtuse?

Is it de rigeur to splurt your ideas and criticisms will-nilly on posts? Some snarky, others rude, others critical, others actually helpful?

Is it impossible to think about the idea of – gasp! – manners?
Where did Anne Landers go?

Maybe it has nothing to do with manners.

Maybe it has to do with the feeling most people have of being so locked down and disenfranchised these days that any opportunity to speak out and express themselves is viewed as a ripe invitation to gush out whatever is on their minds.

Got an opinion? Spew!
Disagree? Spew!
Got advice, whether wanted or not? Spew!
Being a general snarky jerk? Spew!
Feeling insecure about yourself? Spew!
Think you’re being funny? Spew!
Love being nasty? Spew!
Just generally an asshole? Spew!
Got a sincere desire to help? Spew!

I was thinking that maybe if I had posted, “Bit by a spider! Send love!” I’d have had a different outcome. I don’t know. Somehow I don’t think so.

I finally decided, after the first 2 days were filled with dire pain and crazy-making itching, to lance the blister. Yes, yes, I had help, and we did the whole sterilization blah blah blah thing.

The pain went away instantly.

The itch very definitely did not. It took extreme restraint on my part to not take a fork to the damn thing and dig it out of my foot. It went on for a full month, until finally yesterday there wasn’t a trace of itch.

The blister long since dried up, leaving the red spot on my instep. The other bites itched like mad, too, until only a few days ago. Each one has left a red spot behind.

The very worst thing about these bites has been a general fog-headed muzziness, an inability to think straight, and a general malaise. There has been a constant pull to go get horizontal and take about 42 naps a day.

My head is only now clearing up, finally. Today has been the first day I actually welcomed getting up, and that I have been able to stay awake and clear-minded for several hours at a time. Perhaps it was a neuro-toxin that caused all that.

I found a wee-tiny black beetley-like bug in my bed yesterday. It was about half the size of a broken-off pencil tip. Maybe that’s what got me. I guess I’ll never know.

I’ll tellya though, I shake my whole bed up to the nubs every time I want to slide into the sheets!

What do you think?

Am I being silly about wishing people were more respectful?

Maybe I need to learn how to communicate in a way that sets definite boundaries.

Maybe I need to develop a thicker skin. Sheesh, after all this self-improvement work to let go of the thick layers! Can you hear me laughing? Oh the irony.

I didn’t want to write this. But it refused to go away, and was getting in the way of other articles that are impatient to come out. So. Here it is. Two birds with one stone - spider story is now out, and writer’s block gone.



Image: Spider and Friends, original drawing
text and image © Angela Treat Lyon 2023

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