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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Arachnid fun and games

Australian female white-tail spider
You know, in the end there's practically nothing good you can say about a white-tail spider except that it usually moves slowly. Hey, but if it knows you are after it, it can move like lightning, so don't be fooled. They aren't an attractive spider - they look sinister and they crawl in a very crawly, deliberate sort of way as if they are stalking something. They do sneak into your clothes or socks or shoes if you leave them lying about.
   Anyway, the reason I'm mentioning them here is because of what happened last night. I was pretty much whacked from the after-effects of chemotherapy and Tracey had just injected Clexane into me. It was definitely sleepy time. Tracey was about to turn off the light when she noticed something on her pillow, crawling towards my head. Yep, it was a female white-tail, by the size and shape of it. She swept it off the pillow with her hand and despatched it promptly. My Lady in Shining Armour! (Well, pyjamas...)
   Normally I don't kill things or like to see them killed unless there's a good reason. People with their phobias annoy me when they kill some poor bug just because they don't like it. That's not a good enough reason for me. BUT I confess, I do draw the line at white-tails. 
   I found one dead in my sock some years ago after feeling this minor painful itchy sting, and thereafter for a year or more a nasty blister used to come up regularly between my two littlest toes on the left foot where I felt the sting. People say their bites can be necrotic. So I was rather glad that my arachnid companion was all the things mentioned in the Dead Parrot Monty Python sketch by the time Tracey had given it a talking to.
   This morning when I woke, I could feel this crawling sensation on the back of my neck, just at the collar. In my current toxic condition, it is sensible for me to sleep alone, in splendid isolation as it were, so there was no chance of rescue from My Lady a second time. Nor did I want to shout for help as that would have been horrible for Tracey. Imagine at 6 am being woken from another room to check for a white-tail!
   In your situation, you'd quietly get up and try to check in the bathroom mirror rather than do anything stupid like try to brush it off, I'm sure. But the dilemma for me is that getting up in itself is a process fraught with difficulty, with only one usable arm and a severely weakened right side. Getting up for me is like getting Henry VIII on a horse when he was at his most decrepit.
   The likelihood that I would disturb anything on my neck was high, and if it were a friend of the white-tail or a vengeful mate then I would surely be bitten. Probably any disturbance would make it go down on to my back and then any movement of clothing would put pressure on it. That's when you usually get into trouble with angry spiders, scorpions or centipedes.
   I decided that the best policy was just to sit (or lie) it out, moving as little as possible. I wasn't imagining it, something was definitely crawling slowly along my neckline. Then it stopped.
   For what seemed like ages I waited. Then I heard a sound that normally has been driving us all a bit crazy all summer, and it was coming from the back of my neck. The chirping of a cicada! Never was I so pleased to hear it - as they are of course totally harmless. 
   But next time, I hope s/he doesn't find a way into my bed.... Cicadas, you belong outside. White-tails... you don't belong. Sorry.

1 comment:

  1. Creepy! I dislike white tails too (and kill 'em), and had a similar experience with an unhealing, blister like bite, on my chest. But how weird that a cicada came into the house! but then it's a weird summer. The smaller kangaroos can barely see above the grass now and the thistles are taller than I am!Anyway, I'm very glad you didn't get bitten.


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