brown recluse

Bites and Burns

So, I’m like candy to poisonous spiders. I’m not trying to “workers’ comp” my employers to death, in fact I sleep under my insect net every night! I flip my mattress every day and shake my sheets (we call it flip ’n strip, even though the strip part comes first). I don’t know how I’m increasing the likelihood of being bitten, but I apparently am. This time, my right shin is glowing red with infection. It looks like a fried egg with red albumen and an oozing white-purple yolk. I’ve been told not to squeeze it but last night I couldn’t resist. A semisolid banana pudding-looking ooze burst from my skin when I put pressure on the wound. What was strange was the hole it left when I was done. It was like a pin prick of a tunnel into my leg. Kind of creepy, actually. I poured several caps full of hydrogen peroxide over the wound and watched it bubble and froth. It didn’t hurt.

A couple of days prior, I had been to a nearby hospital to have an indifferent physician in a foot brace palpate the wound with uncaring and painful speed, declare it a mere boil and prescribe me antibiotics. It was a strange, strange day. I had taken one of my campers (we’ll call him Tag ‘cause he likes to write his name on things) to the hospital to follow up some burns he’d sustained after blacking out and falling face first into the pow wow fire last Tuesday. Scariest day of my life as a chief. Tag has had one other blackout experience and now I’d like him to get checked out for this apparent tendency. Sakes. We were just about to end our nightly pow wow. We were all seated around the fire discussing what went well that day, what needed work, and various other things including my countless prompts for campers to quit involving themselves with the fire (hands off! Liability!) and to respect the speaker by holding one’s own “tones” (talking). Tag rose, stretched, looked to his left at a fellow camper (we’ll call him Pushup ‘cause he does those when he’s angry), smiled and fell forward like a domino right into the fire. Pushup and I think Bossy (another code name) grabbed Tag out of the fire and stood him aright. He was covered in ashes, and we didn’t really see the nature or severity of his burns till we got him to our cistern.

At the time, a visiting chief was staying with us and was able to recall his first aid training (I could not. I was too busy freaking out and thinking about proper channels, paperwork, and radioing in the incident to the management). We didn’t rinse Tag immediately, as apparently one shouldn’t with 3rd degree burns. We did our best to get him calm. He was in quite a lot of pain but only gave a few urgent complaints. He didn’t cry or scream. Luckily, the ashes on his face were just ashes. He didn’t burn his lips off or anything. HIs forearms and chest took the brunt.

Within minutes our MC was at our campsite in their “gator” (golf-cart looking thing by John Deere) to whisk Tag away to the emergency room. When we saw him next, the following morning, Tag was smiling and mummified from palms to elbows in gauze. We have to change his bandages at least twice a day, and the guys help wrap him up and bird bath him at the shower house. The first day Tag was back from the hospital, Pushup washed his hair for him in the showerhouse sink. I scrubbed his back and upper arms. I was really proud of my guys for rallying around Tag’s needs. Bossy has taken the lead lately getting Tag re-bandaged and I usually help tuck in his shirttail and get his belt back on (no homo). The most annoying part of Tag’s recovery at camp is how long it takes to get him his pain pill. We’re still short staffed, and prescription meds are handed out by either the nurse herself or the MC’s. I don’t enjoy seeing my guys hurting.

So, all this time my spider bite was getting bigger and more nasty looking. Owing to my previous bite, I knew what to expect, so I just told my bosses early that I needed to see a doctor. When it was time to take Tag for his follow up trip to the emergency room, I was instructed to get my leg checked out then as well. The doctor made his rushed, indifferent pass over my leg, and I joined an undbandaged, frustrated Tag in his room a few doors down. The nurse had given him a pain pill and wanted to wait for it to kick in before scrubbing Tag’s wounds at the sink. All the blackened skin had to be removed from the raw, pink and white wounds. Tag was annoyed. He felt abandoned by the nurse. The same doctor that jabbed at my leg had hastily and painfully removed Tag’s bandages, then came the pill, and then a whole bunch of waiting and nothing.

My Red Cross First Aid certification says I don’t need to wait for some hamfisted nurse to come wrap up my kid. I started looking for the necessary bandages and get him out of that medieval establishment. It was unconscionable to witness my adored camper in pain with exposed, untended burns. I was so furious I couldn’t see straight. When I’m angry, I tear up, so I was trying my best to hold it together. I noticed Tag had begun to well up also. It’s against camp rules for me to let him make an unscheduled phone call, but I let him ring his mom anyway on the camp phone they always give us when we go off property (I got a little bit in trouble for it later ‘cause his mom made an unscheduled visit to camp and that just didn’t jive with our paperwork and all that, but please, her son just fell into a campfire! I’d want to see my kid too if it were me!). I couldn’t find the right things to re-bandage him (in a hospital, for Christ’s sake), so I fussed a bit at a lady in scrubs who claimed only to be running the front desk and was therefore absolved. I told her my guy was in pain, covered in burns and nobody’s doing anything. Eventually the nurse came and was able to get Tag scrubbed (gently) and re-wrapped. We headed out to get our prescriptions filled, picked up some McFlurries, complained openly about the hospital, and headed back to camp.

So I’m off now for the next couple of days. I’m having my spider bitten leg looked at by the doctor who saw my first bite. I’m glad I have antibiotics, but the wound grows larger and stranger over the course of the day. Who knows if I’ll need this one hacked open and emptied. I’ll do my best to rest up as well this time off. I want to sleep, watch a movie, sew a monster etc. But I’ve got loads of paperwork to do for camp since an audit is happening soon. Even when I’m off, I’m on.

Take care everyone!!
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