Once upon a time, a spider got trapped in my son’s underpants and attempted to eat his way out.
Once upon a time was last week.
I woke up Friday morning to a text and two emails from my husband, who, despite happening upon a middle-of-the-night crisis, feels strongly that all crises are best handled if I am able to get a full night’s sleep. He’s not wrong.
The two emails, particularly the extraordinarily long one he sent me upon discovering this traumatic male situation after a 2:30am crying bout, were not as calm.
(Noah was crying, not Chris. Although from the tone of his emails, it’s possible that he, too, was crying.)
The first one ended with the tag line “God have mercy on us!” and informed me that he might be taking Noah to the ER if it got worse. The second one used the phrase “His penis is not well!”, and instructed me to take him to the doctor when we woke up.
This particular Friday morning fell the day after Ali had been stung by a completely unprovoked wasp, the day of our scheduled bathroom demolition thanks to the flood, and on a day where my voice was struggling due to tonsillectomy scar tissue, so I was conveniently already operating under Emotional Martial Law. However, my two replies above were while Noah was still asleep. When Noah roused and I surveyed the hazardous situation that had come to pass, my reaction was slightly less calm.
It was bad, y’all.
It was a suspicious package indeed. Looking as if there might be a grenade lodged in there, I worried that things might erupt into a shrapnel cloud of doom at any moment. And it didn’t help AT ALL that I had just published a story about a 2-liter-sized penis that ended up killing a man. Both Chris and I had Witch Doctor Penis on the brain as we mentally worked our way through our own crisis.
Thanks to the light of day and a full night’s sleep, I had a better guess than Chris was able to formulate: A spider bite.
Noah had gotten a nasty one a couple of weeks before (four nights after my surgery when I was barely lucid), so I was recently familiarized with the look of a spider bite. And on this particular morning, he had a similar new bite on his upper leg, along with a few other small bites around the area in question.
…Not that I was excited about my son being the recurring feast of a Brown Recluse or something similar, but at least knowing what I was dealing with helped my level of hysteria, and our Pediatrician had previously told me that 99% of spider bites are a non-event.
…Except that I was now having visuals of a Black Widow’s nest underneath his bed with thousands of tiny baby monsters that most likely WOULD HAVE been eaten by the considerable bat population that I’d evicted from our attic. I began contemplating whether I could ask the demolition crew at my house to just go ahead and take the whole thing down while they were at it.
But if it were a spider bite, it is summertime in the south – so the thought of blaming it on climate change or El Niño or a playground or some other such scapegoat helped hold me back from requesting that my residence be wrecking-balled.
I decided that Ali should not attend the doctor’s visit with us and took her to Chris’ office. After all, it was a “private” visit, and Ali did not need to be traumatized, as the other three of us were going to need counseling and a considerable amount of memory-blocking therapy after seeing what we had seen.
Plus, Chris offered his services to my day.
His description of the situation was fairly accurate,
Except that it was somewhere between this size,
and this size.
A Nurse Practitioner student saw us first at the Pediatrician’s office.
I carefully explained to her that Noah’s penis was quite swollen and that I suspected a spider bite, but was not positive what was going on.
She calmly asked me more details and took notes….until Noah pulled his pants down.
At which time she had a minor meltdown.
Following a gasp and a look that clearly communicated this was her first blimp-sized penis experience, she began asking him questions in an urgent and somewhat frightened tone.
“Have you been able to tee-tee?”
“Did it burn?”
“Do you have any blood coming out?”
Then she turned to me with wild, scarred, penis-rookie eyes and said “I will be RIGHT BACK with the doctor.”
A minute and a half later, Noah’s pediatrician came in alone, leaving me to assume that the NP was retching in the bathroom.
Before the doctor even saw it, she smiled and said,
“Don’t worry. Penises tend to react rather dramatically.”
Noah pulled down his pants.
“Believe it or not, I’ve seen worse.”
She and I carefully moved things about, found the fang marks, and confirmed that it was indeed a spider bite. She gave me bulging-penile care instructions (all over-the-counter) and sent us on our way.
I went to Target and bought two of everything she told me to use, plus every spider spray they had. It was as much retail therapy as I could muster while escorting a boy who was dragging around a ten-pound penis.
Noah was curious about all my purchases.
“What’s that Minion for?”
“It’s an ice pack. To put in your pants.”
“Then what’s the Froggy?”
“Another ice pack. To put in your pants.”
“What’s that red stuff for?”
“So my penis will quit being blowed up?”
The rest of the day consisted of a continuous regimen of Benadryl, a generous dousing of Hydrocortisone, and ice packs.
It wasn’t easy on Noah, as things were quite sensitive down there. During one of my dozen hydrocortisone applications, he looked at me and said gravely, “I’m going to need to cuddle after this.”
None of it seemed to help. I saw no progress in the size of things, but at least I was allowed to keep Noah in a double-dose Benadryl daze so he wasn’t fully aware of his risky business. And after all, the Pediatrician had seen worse. He’d be fine.
Thankful that Noah wasn’t headed for the Sunday night TLC lineup alongside Tree Man and Conjoined Quadruplets, Chris made the best of it. We dressed Noah in Spiderman PJ’s, told him how Peter Parker became Spiderman, and put him to bed.
The next morning, Noah came in my room to get his medicinal treatments.
We checked it out together, and were both filled with glee.
Noah expressed it best, though.
“LOOK HOW TINY MY FIRE HOSE IS!!!!!”
It may be the only time he ever says that, but in that moment, nothing could have been more exciting for him.
Later, we asked him, “So are you Spiderman now?”
He jerked his hands out in front of him, attempting to shoot some webbing.
“Nope,” he replied.
“Oh well, better luck next time.”