My Pulse News

Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

OUACHITA BUSHCRAFT AND SURVIVAL

BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS

By Steven E Stillwell

If you’ve ever wondered what a BLACK WIDOW spider bite feels like and the potential affects it can have on your body, keep reading, because I have firsthand experience. Imagine being stung in the same spot by seven hornets, and someone plunging a searing, red- hot needle into the wound. According to statistics, TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, this spider inflicts the most painful bite out of all the arachnids in North America. Her venom is neurotoxic, drop for drop, it’s 15 times more lethal than a rattlesnake’s and it affects the central nervous system. Fortunately, this spider can’t inject as much toxin as a pit-viper, because of its miniature size, but it can potentially kill someone if they go into anaphylactic shock. Death is rare, but infants, toddlers, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most susceptible to succumbing. 

DISCLAIMER: If bitten, and in doubt, seek medical attention immediately.

THIS IS HOW MY STORY BEGAN. A couple of weeks ago, I was inspecting one of my deer hunting, ground-blinds, and I was being extremely cautious looking for any snakes that might have taken up residence inside. When I pulled the tarp door back to inspect the interior, my assailant was nestled on the opposite side of the fabric, patiently waiting for her next victim. Black Widows love to lurk in dark, shady places, and I should have known better, but I had tunnel vision, because I was expecting something else; I NEVER SAW THIS COMING. The pain was intense! I was so angry that I’d acted recklessly, but I was also aware that I’d made a serious and potentially, life threatening mistake. I turned loose of the tarp, yanked my right hand back, and the swelling was almost instantaneous. I observed an elongated, bright red, blister forming in the web of my hand, between my thumb and index-finger. 

DON’T PANIC, BECAUSE IT’S TIME TO THINK. I took my Buck-knife out of its sheath, deployed the blade, and carefully lanced the blister, squeezing the wound as hard as I could. To my surprise, there was no blood, only clear fluid, and possibly venom. Some of you might be thinking, suck on the wound and spit out the juice; this is the worst thing you can do, because you’re introducing more toxins directly into your mouth. If you have cavities, cankers, or small oral cuts, this could exacerbate the problem, because your orifice is in close proximity to your brain; AVOID THIS TEMPTATION. Chances are, the bite won’t kill you, but frivolous actions will, so remain calm and stay focused!

THESE ARE RECOMMENDATIONS; and this is what I did. It took me approximately 15 minutes to ride home on my 4-wheeler, and I had to operate the throttle with the palm of my hand, because it’s positioned on the right handlebar. When I walked through the front door, my wife said, “You weren’t gone very long.” I raised my arm, held up my hand, and she shouted, “My God, what happened?” “BLACK WIDOW,” I replied. 

FIELD EXPEDIENT FIRST-AID CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE. Our first course of action was to clean the wound with soap and water, and sterilized it with some antiseptic. Next, we applied a drawing balm called, “PRID”, and Maureen placed a Band-Aid over the lesion. She also gave me a Benadryl to counteract any possible allergic reactions. I waited approximately an hour, and we changed the dressing again. I did this four times, within a 24 hour timeframe, to ensure that the solution would draw as much venom out of the wound as possible. I NEVER WENT TO THE DOCTOR, OR THE EMERGENCY ROOM. My hand had a considerable amount of fever, and moderate swelling, but it never spread, or extended beyond my wrist. All of my fingers and joints ached, and the residual pain extended into my elbow, but this only lasted for a couple of hours. A nice, cold ice-pack helped ease the pain. A couple of beers and several shots of premium whiskey took the edge off. Four days of extreme fatigue followed, but the swelling subsided, and I reapplied the PRID SOLUTION until the bite formed a scab. Our bodies are resilient, and the healing process is amazing!

I don’t recommend taking unnecessary chances, but having a little knowledge of first aide techniques, homeopathic remedies, and studying the old ways, just might keep you out of the doctor’s office!

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