A mum has been left terrified in her own home after being hopitalised by a false widow spider bite.
Louise Edwards is now contemplating calling in the bug hunters after suffering the horrendous bite while clearing out the summerhouse at the bottom of her garden.
Initially brushing it off as a minor irritant, medical rep Louise popped a couple of antihistamines and thought nothing more of it.
Within 48 hours the pain got more severe forcing the 49-year-old to take painkillers to tackle the burning sensation in her armpit and the shooting pains down her arm.
Days later the bite had ballooned to the size of a golf ball and mum-of-one Louise went to an out of hours doctor who sent her to hospital.
There doctors said Louise had been bitten perilously close to an artery by a false widow spider – whose bites produce necrosis of the flesh.
The grisly abscess was removed from the wound, leaving her with a gaping inch-and-a-half hole in her arm.
Now, Louise is urging anyone bitten by a creepy crawly to monitor the bite and seek medical attention if it becomes inflamed.
Louise, from Barry, South Wales, said:
It was horrible knowing all that infection was inside me, all from a spider bite.
At the hospital there was talk of needing to deal with it under general anaesthetic. My heart sank as it sounded really serious.
I remember saying to the doctors ‘you are kidding me?’ They said because it was so close to the artery they’ve got to be careful with these things.
I couldn’t believe all this had happened because I put a cushion under my arm.
Louise, who lives with 11-year-old son Cadel Edwards-Davies, was re-arranging furniture in her garden’s summerhouse in August when the spider sank its fangs into her as she carried a cushion tucked under her arm.
The plan was to get an old sofa out of the summerhouse and then put a new red one my friend gave me in.
It was a lovely afternoon and went I got home from work I felt really motivated to get it sorted.
As I moved the furniture I saw four thumbnail-sized spiders, swept them away and didn’t think any more of it.
I had an open-sleeved blouse on and put one of the cushions under my arm but didn’t feel anything.
It was only the following day when I was putting a wetsuit jacket on at an aquapark in Cardiff Bay that I realised my underarm looked red, was slightly raised and felt like a burn.
I assumed it was a bite, I knew I’d been irritated by something, so I took some antihistamines and didn’t think anything of it.
As the week went on fitness fanatic Louise, who attends bootcamp five times a week and regularly goes on runs, said the bite became irritated as it rubbed against the seat belt during her daily commute and began to burn.
On Wednesday evening [August 21] Louise started getting shooting pains down her arm and when she examined the area she spotted two small puncture wounds from where the eight-legged terror had bitten her.
I drove up to north Wales on Wednesday with work and the bite was annoying me because it was rubbing whenever I drove so I started taking painkillers.
I had a proper look at it that night and realised it was a bite as I could see two little holes.
It felt like a burn and I also had shooting pains down my arm.
On Friday evening (August 23) the bite came to a head and looked as though it was ready to burst so Louise put a heated compress on it to draw it out – something she regrets.
The mum-of-one said:
That evening it looked like it had a little head on it and was going to pop.
I got some heat to encourage it but it was the worst thing I could have done.
I did the hot compress first thinking that would draw out the poison but it just made it feel increased the burning sensation so then I had to put ice on it because it was absolute agony.
I had burning, shooting pains down my arm like nerve pain. It felt like when you catch yourself on straighteners. No throbbing, just stabbing pains.
After the bite ballooned to the size of a golf ball, Louise visited an out-of-hours doctor on Bank Holiday Monday [August 26] who immediately referred her to University Hospital of Wales (UHW).
At the hospital Louise underwent blood tests to check infection marker levels and underwent a 10-minute procedure to scoop out the infected flesh.
They were talking about needing to remove it under general anaesthetic at one point because of where it was.
I was about to sign a consent form for a general anaesthetic but they ended up being able to whip it out with local.
They removed the capsule of the abscess, which was the size of a golf ball, and I was left with a one-and-a-half-inch hole in my arm.
Louise was put on a combination of antibiotics to clear up the infection and had the open wound packed and re-dressed every day.
Due to the bite and its location, fitness fanatic Louise was unable to go into work or attend her weekly exercise classes.
The medical rep said:
Even though I work in medicine alarm bells still went off. I was dubious that it was getting better as it took several days for the antibiotics to make a change.
I was off work for three weeks because any driving irritated it and couldn’t do any fitness training either.
It’s been very frustrating not to get out there to classes for the last couple of weeks but I didn’t want to risk it getting re-infected.
Louise said she knew the spiders were the culprit after recognising their distinctive markings when she spotted them in the summerhouse.
I saw them running away when I went into the summerhouse – they had the markings that are really obvious.
I’ve never had an allergic reaction to anything I’ve been bitten by before.
I wasn’t a fan of spiders before this but clearly I can’t stand them now. My fear’s rubbed off on my son now, he’s not a fan of them now either after what happened.
I’ve not been in the summerhouse since but I’m going to set a ‘bug bomb’ off in there and if that doesn’t work I’ll need to get someone in to fumigate it thoroughly.
Hoping people can avoid going through the ordeal she has, Louise is now urging anyone bitten by a critter to monitor it and seek medical attention if it starts to look or feel inflamed.
My advice would be to keep an eye on it and if it becomes inflamed get it checked out straight away.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining the LADbible Group team in 2017.