Date: Saturday, June 03, 2000 10:29 AM Subject: BR bite
Mark, I read with interest your experience with the bite of this little monster. I was bitten on the end of my ring finger by this spider, and thought you might be interested in my experience. Just over 10 years ago, I was bitten on the end of the ring finger of my right hand by a BR. I knew what the spider was, saw it when it bit me and immediately realized that I needed medical treatment. I went to the Dr. and explained what had happened. He was not familiar with this particular spider, so he gave me a Band-Aid and sent me home. Around 36 to 48 hours later, the blistering and swelling began. The necrosis started soon after. I went to a different Dr. then who hospitalized me for IV antibiotics. After several days, the necrosis subsided and I was sent home. The finger was still very painful and the necrotic tissue looked ugly, but at least I was home. About 6 to 8 weeks later, my finger looked normal again, with minimal scars evident. End of story, right? Wrong. Over the next two years, from time to time, the swelling and necrosis would start again. Always in the same place on that finger. It was as if the spider continued to bite me over and over. I would go to the Dr. (there are no words to describe the pain), who would run test after test for everything known to medical science - and all were negative. I would tell each Dr. about the BR bite, but they all said that there was no way the necrosis could be connected to this bite. I finally was sent to a hand surgeon for evaluation. About two years after the bite, just about half of this finger had to be amputated. Tests revealed gangrene. I thought this would now be the end of the story, right? Wrong. After the amputation, the EXACT SAME necrosis would start again, on the same side of the stump as the original bite. Again, more Dr.'s, more tests, more necrotic loss of the stump. No one wanted to listen to me when I tried to tell them that this all started with a BR bite. One physician was so determined that I have RSD (with necrosis!) that he sent me to a thoracic surgeon for a brachial sympathectomy (removal of a ganglion of nerves that regulates blood flow to my right arm). This seemed to slow the symptoms for about six years. Then about two years ago, it all started again. This nerve tissue will not regenerate, so, back to the Dr. More tests, more diagnosis, more pain and more necrosis. Again, it is as if the spider continues to bite me. As I write this, I am facing plastic surgery to try to heal this wound. The cost of treatment over the last 10 years is now in excess of a quarter of a million dollars and I have seen over twenty different physicians at last count. Each are told that this all started with this bite, yet no one listens. The cost is now personal - I am an RN, and it has now cost me my bedside practice. I could not continue to practice in the ICU unit I worked in when I never knew when my finger would do this. This would involve at least a month off work while the ulcer heals (infection control issues), and I couldn't afford to be without income for that long. The last surgeon I spoke with is wanting to amputate half my hand. Not an option I wish to consider. I am now a research nurse. Not exactly what I went to school for, but I can still use my clinical skills. I am also spending quite a bit of time researching the BR and the complications of this bite. I've found research that is interesting, and may prove helpful for others who have had this experience. The disease is known as necrotic arachnidism and was discovered in the 1870's by a physician in Chile. The venom is an enzyme. It seems to stay in the system and is not "used up." The research involves ways to denature this enzyme without destruction of the tissues. At least there is hope - if anyone will listen. I don't know if my story could help anyone else. Please feel free to share my e-mail address with anyone who you think could benefit from it. I would love to hear from anyone else who has had the same or similar experiences. I am NOT promoting anything. I am NOT selling anything. I am a nurse who is sincerely interested in sharing my experience with others with the hope that it might help. Thank you for your time.
====== Date: Friday, June 09, 2000 7:23 PM Subject: follow up - BRS bite
Hi Mark, I wrote to you last week in reference to an ongoing problem with BRS bites. I wanted to give you an update. Last Sunday, I went to see Dr. Abrams. He used the "stun gun" on my hand and arm at that time. I can't begin to tell you how much improvement has taken place over the last 5 days. The necrotic area on the stump of my ring finger is now about 1/3 the size it was. The large ulceration on the palm side of the finger has now closed by about 2/3. I am completely pain free. The healing of this ugly wound has taken place in 5 days - a process that normally takes at least two months. I've attempted to attach a couple of pictures taken the day before I went to see Dr. Abrams. The wound was worse on the day I saw him. The white area that you see on the finger finally liquefied (for lack of a better word) and came off - leaving a deep necrotic ulcer. That was what was going on when I saw Dr. Abrams. As soon as the pictures are developed, I'll scan and send you one of what the finger looks like now.
======= Date: Sunday, August 13, 2000 10:19 AM Subject: update
Good morning Mark, I just wanted to give you a quick update on the bite and stun gun treatment with Dr. Abrams. Since I last contacted you, myself and another woman have been interviewed for a documentary with the Discovery Channel. I have been interviewed for a book as well. Both the book and interview deal with recurrent necrosis from BRS bites. This should air sometime in the spring. My story was found on your web site, and this is where the interest was first generated. I can't begin to tell you how very much I thank you for being there....for giving those of us with this condition somewhere to post our story. My hand continues to improve. There has been no further evidence of necrosis since my treatment with Dr. Abrams. Others can say what they will about the stun gun, but I still have my hand. Evidence like this, in my opinion, is a little hard to dispute. I continue to be pain free. I had lost my bedside practice because of this when I contacted you earlier this year. As I write this, I have returned to the ICU and to the type nursing I love. I feel stronger and more confident each day that this nightmare is finally behind me. Once again, thank you. LeeAnn