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Posted: January 15th, 2002 | Author: | Filed under: critters, Hawaii | 1 Comment »

Let me tell you, unequivocally, that you do not ever, ever want to be bitten by a centipede, even if you are not quite so sensitive to the toxin as I apparently am. I’ve spent the last two days learning all kinds of things about centipedes, up close and personal. The story goes like this:

Sunday evening I went out back to get the last load of laundry out of the dryer. It’s dark back there, and I couldn’t see much. Just as I got to the dryer, I felt a sharp pain on the toes of my right foot, much like I imagine a small nail being pounded through your toe would feel like. I said a few choice words and kicked out my foot, losing my shoe in the process. Balanced on my left foot, I said a few more choice words and wondered what the hell had bitten me. My first thought was that it was likely a centipede, although I didn’t hear the rustling scurry away that I’ve heard from centipedes before. For some dumb reason I somehow managed to get all the laundry out of the dryer, find my shoe, and make it halfway back to the back door before I realized that I really couldn’t walk all that well anymore. I must have been out there too long, or made some kind of noise, because Kevin (who, miracle of all miracles, was home at the time) popped his head out the door and asked if I needed help. I must have really worried the poor boy, because I was in the house and writhing on the living room floor before I knew it.

Kevin attempted triage, but I was having no touching of the foot, with fingers or with cotton soaked in peroxide or anything. I made him get a bowl and pour the peroxide over my foot into the bowl and then call the Ask-a-Nurse hotline that frankly isn’t so hot. They were clueless. In the meantime, my foot and ankle were beginning to swell, and numbness was working its way up my leg. When it hit the back of my knee, Kevin made the executive decision to haul me off to the emergency room and run through a few stoplights on the way.

The last time I was in the emergency room I was five years old and had my head x-rayed (no kidding), so you can understand how my fear of my leg falling off was battling with my fear of all things critical that involve doctors. I writhed and swore and filled out paperwork, then was placed in a wheelchair and rolled back to the triage room. The nurse poked around my sensitive toes for signs of what might have happened — remember that at this point I still didn’t know *what* the hell had bit me — and didn’t see anything other than a ballooning foot.

After a mercifully short wait in back in the waiting room, I was wheeled back to Dr. Lee, who is certainly younger than I am but very, very nice. Kevin showed him where the punctures are (between my second and third toes on my right foot) and told him what all we had done. He concluded that it was most likely a centipede bite, based on the punctures and my reaction, and that I was apparently pretty sensitive to the toxin. Dr. Lee started telling me in gory detail about how he was going to inject painkillers into the top of my foot before I cut him off and told him that he should just say that he’s going to do something to make it feel better and spare me the details, lest I pass out. So Kevin watched (with a promise to never recount to me) the two injections into the top of my foot, which I mercifully barely felt at that point. I sat for a bit, and after the doctor checked in to make sure that I was still alive and my leg still attached, sent a nurse in to give me a tetanus shot, just for kicks. Then I got to go home with my icepack.

I called my boss when I got home to tell him that there was no way I was coming in that next morning. I slept surprisingly well, considering, and spent yesterday napping, reading, and going through by out-of-control magazine piles. I managed to hobble as far as the bathroom and the living room couch, but had to call Amy to fetch my mail from the mailbox for me and let Kevin take care of dinner and the dishes.

Today I’m still swollen and hobbling, but have a wider range. I managed to make it across the street to work, and my foot is becoming less painful as the day wears on, although it’s still pretty numb overall.

I read up a bit on centipedes today. Most sites admit that the bites are pretty painful, but say that the pain goes away in a few hours for most people. Well, I am quite obviously not most people.