I woke up Saturday morning, June 15th, with a large red welt on my arm and found a brown recluse spider dead in my bed. Later that day I developed a full body rash, other welts, burning sensations, swelling in my throat, and extreme aching. A visit to the ER resulted in administration of a Pepcid and an oral steroid. Throughout the following week, the bite progressively worsened in both appearance and pain. Eventually, my arm locked up and even the slightest touch was excruciating. I started a hyperbaric oxygen treatment on June 22nd at Oasis Hyperbaric in Edmond, OK. Immediately, my condition improved, and with continued treatment, I fully recovered in under a week. .
Notice Of Bite
I noticed the bite on the morning of June 15th after getting out of bed. There was an odd ache on the back of my shoulder, and when I looked in the mirror there was a swollen red rash about the size of a baseball. After looking on my bed I found a dead brown recluse spider. My father verified that I had a small blister at the site, which generally develops a couple hours after the bite. I applied some first aid clay, and my father gave me a Benadryl. Shortly after I got to work, I began feeling dizzy and sick. Later, I broke into hives, developed a very itchy full body rash, and experienced swelling in my throat. My father picked me up early from work and took me to the ER, where they gave me an oral steroid and told me to take Pepcid everyday. Pepcid is a Histamine 2 blocker. Before releasing me, they just said to keep an eye on it.
June 16th & 17th
The bite and rash became worse.
I had no energy, and I slept the entire day. My father and I talked about my projected departure for camp the next day. He believed my symptoms would improve over the course of the week.
I spent three hours on a bus headed to Wichita, Texas for summer camp. I applied a hydrocortisone cream to the bite to try and help the pain. The bite started turning purple-pink.
The rashes and hives persisted
and my arm began to lock up.
Any contact, even clothing, with the bite was excruciating, and the bite would randomly pulse and throb. It turned a dark purple and the skin began burning like fire. The black specks in the wrinkles of skin are activated charcoal from a paste I applied daily.
The bite began turning grey on the outside.
The hives still itched and ached and the rash was still over my entire body. I applied hydrocortisone cream again and that managed the itching. My arm lost mobility, and I could only move it forward a small amount. Backward was impossible and upward caused intense pain. My parents maintained contact with me and set up plans for a new treatment path upon my return.
As soon as I returned on Friday, we got a prescription from an urgent care clinic because my condition continued to worsen daily and I had no energy. I was in constant pain and my arm was still locked. The doctor said a large cyst had developed underneath the bite. The full body rash and hives continued to persist. From the clinic, we went straight to Oasis Hyperbaric for my first treatment. After a one hour dive, my symptoms began to slightly improve – less pain and itching.
I dove twice on Saturday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
By the end of my third treatment in less than 24 hours, the purple skin was gone. My rash was completely gone, and I regained almost full mobility in my arm. I noticed a remarkable reduction in the size of the cyst in my shoulder, and I didn’t have extreme aching and throbbing anymore. I had more energy and my hive patches were half the size that they had been. The red area around the bite was now only the size of a quarter, and all the grey flesh was gone.
Everything continued to improve on Sunday. A small wound developed and scabbed.
Overall, improvement continued, but I began to feel sick to my stomach.
Since we were due to leave on vacation the next day, my father took me to Oasis for another dive. I vomited about an hour after the dive, so we scheduled one more for Thursday.
I did one last dive before leaving for vacation, and the cyst in my shoulder was half the size it had been before all of my treatments. The hive patches cleared completely, and I regained full mobility in my arm.
Today, there is little physical evidence of my bite.
I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have received hyperbaric oxygen treatments. I have little confidence my recovery would have been as swift and complete without them.