Of Spiders, Comfrey and Peppermint...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

I can't say that spiders have ever really bothered me too much.  We've not exactly had a love-love relationship and neither have we had a  hate-hate relationship.  I ignore them, and they ... for the most part... ignore me.  I'm good with that. 

Spiders were the least of my concerns when we lived in Texas.  There were far bigger things to worry about, like scorpions, fire ants, chiggers, rattlesnakes, roaches, ticks, and a spider here or there.  While out working in the yard, generally my biggest concern was first ... where are the fire ants.  Then if I was around rocks, there was a concern about scorpions, and snakes.  If hiking through the woods, you would be concerned about rattlesnakes hiding under logs, or ticks hiding in the bushes. 

When we first moved to Idaho, the only thing that we were cautioned about from the locals was this... watch out for "hobo spiders".  Didn't sound like too bad of a deal.  I could dig to my heart's content in the dirt, walk through the grass barefoot, and hike through the woods, with nary a worry about a poisonous snake, a scorpion or a nasty visit from some angry fire ants.  These are all very serious concerns whenever you're out and about in Texas.

So, moving here to Idaho, it seemed wonderful to be able to work out in the yard, and not really ever have to worry about creeping or crawly things!  Now, there are much bigger things you might want to be concerned about here in Idaho, especially if you're out in the deep woods, and that would be the occasional bear, moose, deer, elk, or coyote... all of which we've seen ... from a distance since we've been here in Idaho.  But, as a general rule, if you keep your distance, make lots of noise, and carry bear spray, just in case... you're good. 

So, life is good here in Idaho.  I've enjoyed not really having to worry about creepy, crawly critters when I'm outside working in the yard.

At least, that was until the last day or so. 

Last Friday was the kids first day out of school, and we had made plans the night before to sleep in.  But... someone forgot to tell the dogs.  I'm not sure who I could blame this on, but the dogs did not get this important update before we went to bed. 

So, at 6:30 a.m. on the dot, the dogs' internal alarm clocks went off, and they began to scratch, nudge, whimper, scratch and make all kinds of annoying dog noises, that eventually no matter how hard you try, you just can't ignore them any longer.  So, I sat up in bed... or should I say, I tried to sit up.  Suddenly my world felt like I was in a spinning kaleidoscope and I felt like I was spinning around in a world gone crazy. 

I was able to lay back down, but the dogs didn't understand what had just happened to me.  So, I thought, well, let's try this again.  So, I slowly tried to sit up again, and the same thing happened.

I almost fell off the bed. 

By this time, the dogs were licking me and whimpering as they had figured out something was wrong.  I managed to maneuver myself off the bed, and hold onto the walls to make it to the front door to let the dogs out, staggering around because the world was spinning crazily around me.  Somehow, I managed to make it safely back to the bed.  Finally, the world stopped spinning again when I laid my head down on the pillow, but now, my stomach was doing a fancy number, and I had cold sweat pouring out of my body. 

To make a long story short, this went on for about five hours.  I laid in bed unable to move or do much at all.  My daughter brought me some water, and I couldn't even bear to hold my head up high enough to take a sip. 

My kids prayed for me and I laid quietly in bed and dozed off.  Around 1:00 in the afternoon, I remember opening my eyes, and realizing that I felt normal again.  I slowly sat up, and to my great thankfulness, the world had stopped spinning.  I hated to have wasted the first day of my kids being out of school in bed, but there was nothing to be done about it. 

As I slowly moved around the house, I realized I was hungry, but my stomach wasn't ready to accept anything yet.  So, I remembered reading that ginger helps to settle upset stomachs, so I made myself a cup of hot ginger tea and slowly sipped away. 

It wasn't ten minutes before my stomach had stopped rolling, and I felt like a new person.  I got up and ate a piece of toast, and a banana. Whatever had hit me like a 2-ton truck had departed, and I felt fine again.  I was outside watering my plants, and working in the yard as if I hadn't been in bed all day. 

So, a word to the wise, the next time your stomach feels like it is a free for all tumble, try a bit of ginger tea.  I didn't have any fresh gingeroot on hand, but I just dropped a 1/2 tsp of ground ginger into a cup, and added hot water with a little sweetener.  If I was one to believe in magic, I would say ginger would be high up there on my list of magic tricks for sick stomachs! 

So, by now you may be wondering what would a spinning world, sick stomach, and spiders have to do with each other? 

Well, I had no idea the three were related either... that is, not until yesterday.  I woke up yesterday morning to find a nasty looking purple and red dotted mass on my left arm.  It was hot to touch, very tender and hurt like the dickens.  As the day went on, I began to feel slightly feverish, nauseated and just achy all over. 

I stopped in to see a friend of mine at an antique store, and as we visited, I made a comment about the spot on my arm, and not feeling well.  She immediately got a concerned look on her face and asked to see my arm.  She got her magnifying glass out, and looked at the black and blue area on my arm, and told me she saw two puncture bites.  Obviously something had bit me and was causing this ugly purple and red bruise, and red welts on my arm. 

Now, I still don't know what kind of insect caused this bite.  The concern at first was that it might be a hobo spider, but upon doing some research into the type of wound a hobo spider bite leaves, I am somewhat doubtful that it was a hobo spider.  

But, whatever insect caused this bite, it really, really hurt.  I felt like I could hardly lift my arm or move it, and my arm felt like it was burning up, and I felt feverish, and slightly ill myself. 

My friend at the antique store has a collection of plants all over her store.  If you are local, in the area, you ought to stop by The Petticoat Junction in Newport, as it is a marvelous place to browse and spend some time looking at all the antiques and collections from years gone by.  So, my friend who owns the store, went and pulled two large leaves off a comfrey plant and gave them to me to make a tincture for the bite. 

So, I went home, and gently boiled the comfrey leaves in a dab of water for about 15 minutes and then made a comfrey compress for my arm.  After about 15 minutes or so, the pain in my arm began to ease.    The swelling seemed to go down somewhat, and I stopped filling ill and sick to my stomach.  I also took a dose of oregano oil (two drops in a bit of juice) and an ibuprofen.  I also applied an ice pack every couple of hours or so. 

My kids gathered around me and prayed before we went to bed, and another friend of mine who happened to call, also prayed for me.  I felt great assurance from the Lord that all would be well in the morning.

I got up this morning, and was amazed. All the pain in my arm was gone.  The arm didn't ache at all, it wasn't tender to touch, and it looked like some of the purplish blue swelling and color had begun to diminish. The red welts were just about gone, and I was able to move my arm around without any problem.

I don't believe I was bit by a hobo spider, but some sort of spider or insect bit me and caused all this undue distress.  However, in the midst of it all, I am very thankful that a few simple things at home saved a trip to the medical doctor, and I'm thankful that the Greatest Physician of all, the Lord Jesus touched me so quickly. 

I talked to another friend who had been bit by a hobo, and it was a nightmare experience for her.  The bite of a hobo literally eats the flesh from the inside, and is very, very nasty, and painful.  For this reason, I don't believe it was a hobo spider bite, as I don't have the hard core in the center of the bite that generally alerts people to a hobo spider, but whatever bit me and caused me the bout of dizziness, nausea and swelling in my arm with the red whelps, I am thankful that today.... Praise the Lord it is much, much better! 

And I've learned a thing or two about hobo spiders.  Stay.away.from.hobo.spiders.  They.are.not.nice. 

I've learned about their habitat, and where they like to hide and you can betcha I'll be watching out for every single spider that is crawling around me from here on out.  We will have to come to an understanding that spiders are not welcome in my house. Nope.  Nada. Not.

And one other thing I learned.  Spiders don't like peppermint oil.  In fact, spiders HATE peppermint, or mint of any kind. 

So, a nice little remedy to keep spiders out of your home is to fill a spray bottle with some water, a few drops of peppermint oil, and a teaspoon or so of dish soap. Make sure the spray smells like mint when you spray it.  That is very important. This peppermint spray will send them scurrying away faster than anything else you use.  Spray it wherever you think a spider may be residing, especially damp, dark places.  They especially like bathrooms. 

Well... they aren't going to like my bathrooms any more!!!

So... if you walk in my house anytime soon, and smell peppermint... relax... nothing to worry about... I've just been scaring all the spiders away, because I don't intend for anyone else to have to go through what I've been through the last few days.  I may even try to find some peppermint oil perfume... for when I'm working out in the garden that is!

1 comment

  1. Wow, Marilyn, I just read this! What an ordeal you went through from that bite all those years ago. I clicked on the post because my daughter was recently telling me what a wonder-worker comfrey is. This confirms it!

    I have a friend who carries crystallized ginger with her when she travels to prevent motion sickness. She gave me some on a boat one time and it really did help. I don't always have that, though, so it's good to know that just the powdered type will help with nausea. Thanks for sharing!


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