I’ve become allergic or intolerant to a lot of pain medications, but haven’t yet organised a referral to a specialist to talk about pain management. So when I developed an epic migraine on Wednesday night, the only thing I had at home that I could take was Panadol.
Which worked about as well as swallowing two grains of rice would have.
I had a shower in an attempt to relax my tense neck and shoulder muscles, and curb the nausea. Spent half an hour just sitting on the shower floor, rocking back and forth and whispering, “Please… please…”
Please what? Please stop? Please throw up and get it over with? Please just die?
I wet my hair, got into bed and put an ice pack on my forehead and a heat pack on my neck and shoulders. Lay in the dark and closed my eyes. Did some deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. After several long hours, I fell asleep.
When I woke up on Thursday, Mr Happy had already left for work. I rolled over and saw a tiny spider in the bed. I squished it, and sat up.
Several more tiny spiders scurried away.
I looked around, and everything was covered in tiny spiders.
Thousands of spiders.
They were on the ceiling, the walls, the cupboard doors, the floor, and in the bed.
Obviously, a spider had laid eggs somewhere, and they’d all just hatched that morning.
But I’d only just woken up. Mornings are always hard, and, on this particular Thursday morning, I was still groggy from my migraine the night before.
So I just sighed, and got out of bed. Closed the bedroom door in the hope that they would stay in there while I collected myself, and went and lay down on the lounge. When I was able, I got myself a bowl of the cereal I can eat, and had breakfast, so that I could take my meds. But then I saw a little spider on the lounge next to me. Where had that come from? Suddenly, I realised that there were tiny spiders on and in my clothes…the ones I was currently wearing!
THERE WERE SPIDERS IN MY HAIR!
The black woman in my head said,
“Aw, HELL NO!”
I walked around the house, and identified that the spiders were mostly in our bedroom, but had started escaping down the hallway. That meant I had to deal with the issue now. I couldn’t wait until Mr Happy got home from work that afternoon because, by then, the spiders might have spread to the whole house. That wasn’t really a problem while they were baby spiders. But if all those baby spiders found hiding places, and grew to be big spiders… Uh uh. No way. I couldn’t let that happen.
The problem was, I can’t just wave a can of spray around and kill them all. Mr Happy is sensitive to sprays, and I’m sensitive to pretty much anything full of nasty chemicals – it gives me migraines and nausea, and aggravates all my Dysautonomia symptoms. I could call a pest control place to come and spray the house but, again, that meant filling my house with nasty chemicals. It also meant spending money – something we don’t have a lot of right now.
That meant I was going to have to do it all manually.
So I took off my spider-filled clothes, and put on clean, spider-free ones. I brushed my hair to get rid of any spiders hiding in there. Then I put on my compression stockings, to give myself as much blood pressure as possible, although the adrenaline was kind of already helping with that. I’ve discovered an off-label Dysautonomia treatment! Need to get your blood pressure a bit higher? Cover your bedroom in thousands of spiders, and then hide some in your clothes and hair for good measure. (Warning: Adrenaline is a finicky treatment. A little is helpful. Too much will make you vomit and pass out. How much is too much? It depends on the day).
I spent the day vacuuming every inch of my room. The ceiling. The walls. The floor. The windows. The cupboards. I stripped the bed, and threw all the sheets and covers into the washing machine on HOT cycle. Vacuumed the mattress, and dragged it out into the hallway. Took all the clothes out of the drawers, and dumped them into the bathtub to sit until I could wash them later. Emptied the bedside cabinets, continuing to vacuum up tiny spiders as I went.
I posted in my chronic illness group for moral support; their empathy and hilarious suggestions helped me get through the day. (The most popular being that I was living through a spider apocalypse and, “There’s nothing you can do but burn the house down. It’s the only reasonable course of action at a time like this”. Unfortunately, my home insurance does not cover fires due to spider apocalypse, so I couldn’t take their advice).
One of the girls in the group told me that spiders don’t like citrus oils. Unfortunately, I can’t tolerate citrus oils either. But it reminded me that I’d read somewhere that spiders don’t like peppermint oil, which is something I had in the cupboard and can tolerate just fine. I sent out an SOS to a friend and my sister, who came over armed with squirty bottles. We filled them up with water and peppermint oil. My friend went outside and squirted around the bedroom windows, and I pulled apart the dressers and bedside cabinets, vacuuming and spraying.
When I posted a picture, someone in my chronic illness group suggested they looked like baby huntsman spiders, which I was okay with, until I looked them up on a pest control site. (Note to people in the pest control business: telling stories about how a big huntsman hid in your friend’s towel and BIT THEIR FACE when they went to use it is probably not what people want to read when they have a houseful of spiders, and are looking for solutions!). When my friend came over, she suggested they looked more like baby wolf spiders. I was even less okay with that idea. But ultimately, it didn’t really matter what kind they were: most spiders in Australia have a nasty bite. I wanted them gone.
Mr Happy arrived home from work to find the house (and me) in a chaotic state. In all the time I’d spent cleaning, I hadn’t found the big ‘mother’ spider. And if I didn’t find her, she would just have more babies, and all this work would be for nothing. My friend noticed some of the tiny spiders hiding behind our bedroom air-conditioning unit, which is unfortunately not something we could remove from the wall ourselves. We thought the mother spider might be behind there, so I gave in, and brought out a can of heavy duty bug spray with a long, thin nozzle. I sprayed behind the air conditioner, and into the wall that the piping goes into, hoping that would be the end of it. We closed the bedroom door, and I told Mr Happy we wouldn’t be able to sleep in there that night.
By then it was dinner time. Mr Happy is sick at the moment (on top of his chronic health issues) so it was important that he have something nutritious. I cooked him dinner, and cleaned up. (Usually he cleans up, but sneezing all over the dishes is not exactly helpful, so I do it when he’s not well).
At bedtime, we wearily dragged our queen size mattress out of the hallway and into the spare room (located next to our bedroom). But then I noticed a tiny spider on the wall. I squished it….then I noticed another tiny spider on the wall.
“We can’t sleep in here,” I said, pointing at the spider.
“There’s spiders in here too.”
So we carried the mattress out to the lounge room (which is at the opposite end of the house). Had a quick look around. No spiders here, thankfully. Plonked the mattress on the floor, and made it with the sheets and covers I’d washed that morning. Mr Happy tiredly climbed into bed, and I went to have a shower. Got in the shower, and then just sat on the floor in there and sobbed.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so exhausted.
I live each day with only a limited amount of spoons. But spiders don’t care. Life doesn’t always happen in a way that allows you to carefully manage your health. To get through the day, I’d had to steal spoons from who knows how many days ahead. I’d had to push my body, and then beg my body, and then flog my body, to get through the day.
And now there were spiders in the spare room too.
I knew it wasn’t the end of the world.
I trusted God knew what He was doing.
But I couldn’t stop crying.
I was just so tired.
I dragged myself out of the shower, and collapsed into bed.
Despite being exhausted, I was in too much pain to sleep.
When I finally drifted off, I had nightmares about tiny spiders.
And that’s not even the end of it.
When I woke up the next day (Friday), I found…
(Sorry everyone! This post is long enough already.
You’ll have to wait for Part 2 to find out what happened!)