Last night at work, I was bitten. I do not know by what, as the culprit was never found, but I did consider a visit to the Emergency Room at two-thirty in the morning (roughly seven hours after the assault) because of the size and color of the hideous bruise that had developed at the site. Though the likelihood of a Brown Recluse spider being in the kitchen of my restaurant, or in my bag, is extremely low, what else could produce such ugliness in a non-allergic person within mere minutes?
I didn’t notice the bite at first. My hand itched at some point, and when I scratched it, it hurt–and I noticed that the area around my pinky knuckle was swollen and blue-ish. I immediately iced it, as it appeared to be swelling fast. I was reassured by the fact that I could still make a fist, and that the feeling in my hand was intact–also, there wasn’t any local hotness, just dull pain and and ever-growing black and blue mark. Truth be told, it looked like I’d punched a fence-post. Or a gorilla.
My coworkers tried to convince me that I’d just whacked it on something and hadn’t noticed. I may be daft and unobservant, but if I’d whacked my hand on something hard enough to make it swell and turn blue, I’d fucking notice. Particularly if I wasn’t drunk, which I (shocker!) wasn’t.
I’d arrived at work with a rather gnarly sinus headache, which seemed to get worse after the bite, and for three or four hours, I was a miserable, achy, exhausted, stuffy-headed hypochondriac wreck. The other server I work with on Saturdays is not strong enough to handle the whole room by herself, so there was no chance of my going home. I wasn’t entirely sure I should sleep, anyway. (What happens when you sleep after a varmint with flesh-eating venom has attacked you in your workplace? Do you die if you’re not shot with steroids soon enough? Do you lose that limb by morning? Do you wake up with Club Hand?)
So I stuck it out. And by “stuck it out,” I mean that I delivered food and drinks to people who asked for them, but I forewent my usual waitressy banter, and spent every moment I could spare sitting on the patio and chain-smoking, stifling the urge to run inside and grab my fellow waitress by the hair and holler, “When will I be allowed to get sick?”
During one of these patio sits, my manager asked to take a look at it and upon close inspection noticed what appeared to be two fang-marks (they turned out to be, on my own inspection before bed, merely miniscule freckles with unfortunate placement). Dude, it looks like you got bit by a bat, he said. A baby bat. A preemie bat. It was at this point, of course, that my sense of humor returned and I realized that the entire situation was utterly ridiculous and would only happen to me.
Eventually, the headache miraculously subsided, my appetite came back long enough for me to force down some Orange Chicken from next door, and I no longer felt like killing the other waitress. My hand, however, was still black and blue, and painful, and according to everyone else I showed it to, the bruise was growing. It had developed a half-inch diameter rouge-colored spot to the right of the center, which looked like it would be the epicenter of things, but it didn’t hurt to the touch as other areas did, so I was befuddled. The security guard to the building, who used to be a Marine Corps medic, advised me to go to the ER. My coworkers were split–one said go, the other two said I should sleep on it and go in the morning if I woke up to find I’d grown another human out of my hand or something.
Due to an absolute intolerance of bureaucracy and a general aversion to all things hospital-related, the last thing I wanted to do–after having finished a nine-hour shift and finally expelling the headache that had been plaguing me all day–was to go sit in the waiting room of the ER for endless hours, surrounded by sicklings and lunatics, and eventually be told, There’s nothing we can do, your arm’s gonna fall off, go home and get some rest.
So I did. I ignored the prudent advice and took the path of least resistance…straight to my house.
Before bed, I spent about an hour relentlessly searching the internet for anything related to Brown Recluse spider bites that looked even remotely like the lesion I had on my hand. And… nothing. I didn’t have a blister, which was said to develop in 4-8 hours (it had been 10), there was no hotness, and my skin had not begun to decompose (whew). I washed my hand, shook out my sheets (and pillowcases and laundry and messenger bag) and went to bed. This morning when I woke up, the only change in the appearance of my hand is that it’s a bit more rouge-ish and less blue than it was yesterday.
So there it is. It’s highly unlikely at this juncture that I will experience sudden necrosis of the flesh and wind up with a gaping hole in my hand. I still have feeling in my hand, though the joint is tight around the bruise, as joints tend to be around hideous marks of contusion. I still haven’t found my assailant, though I’ve emptied my bag and searched my room (and rolled around anxiously in bed, kicking violently every time I felt the slightest sensation anywhere on my body). And for a few more days, I’ll have this attention-getting stain on my hand–and people, being naturally nosy, will ask about it.
I could tell them I got in a fight. That I got frustrated with being at the beck and call of idiots and work and I finally snapped. Oh, that? Some asshole was asked me for a glass of water and I popped him. Broke one of his veneers. It was great.
I think I’ll tell them that I was bitten by a bat, though. A baby bat, with itty-bitty fangs. Just you wait, I’ll say. In a couple of days, I’ll be Bat Girl>.