Written by Patty Decker Tuesday, 02 October 2012 14:09
Roger Ashley, 48, said he didn’t even realize he had been bitten the second time.
“I went to get my steel-toed boots from underneath the bed and tapped them on the floor,” he said. “I didn’t see anything so I put them on.”
Adamant about safety, Ashley said, he wore his steel-toed boots to protect his feet when using a chainsaw to cut wood and he had safety glasses to protect his eyes.
“I didn’t realize the little bugger was in my boot and had bit my toe,” he said. “Safety first, that’s me.”
“If I felt it, though, I didn’t notice it with the heavy socks I was wearing.”
Ashley said he and wife Grace went to Arkansas City that Saturday (Aug. 17) to help some friends move.
While driving, he said his middle toe started itching a lot.
They went to a water park, but prior to going, he said he stopped and got some athlete’s foot cream.
“By Saturday night, my toe went from incessant itching to excruciating pain,” he said. “It really and sincerely felt like (my toe) couldn’t have hurt anymore if you just reached down and cut it off—that kind of pain.”
As he said he was rolling around and screaming, his wife said they should go to the emergency room.
“I said I wasn’t going to the emergency room for a little toe.”
By Sunday, Ashley said his wife was about ready to knock him out and take him to the ER, but he still wasn’t going.
“I went to work Monday and after work I knew I had to go to the doctor,” he said.
Even though he said he had been bitten by a brown recluse for the first time while living in Lehigh, the circumstances were much different.
In Lehigh, he said, he was working in a shed about three years ago and reached over in a box to put an old sweater on.
Under his right arm, he didn’t know it at the time, but he had been bitten and it felt like a bee sting.
The next day, he said, it didn’t look like a spider bite.
“It looked more like I was getting an ingrown hair, but because of the way the skin was, I could see the puncture marks.”
The difference with the most recent bite was that Ashley said he didn’t see any fang marks right away.
“I still thought it was a staff infection, athlete’s foot or something,” he said.
His local doctor put him on antibiotics and he said he planned to go to work Tuesday.
But by Tuesday, he said working wasn’t an option.
“I couldn’t bear weight on (my foot),” he said.
Because of the drastic change in less than a day, Ashley said he went to his wife’s doctor, who referred him to another physician in Newton’s emergency room.
As the doctor looked at him, Ashley kept saying he thought it might be a spider bite, but the doctor didn’t agree. Consequently, he was put on different antibiotics and sent home.
When he returned to his local doctor Wednesday, he said she referred him to a specialist in wound care at Wesley Medical Center.
That evening he started cleaning the wound and that’s when he saw the fang marks.
“It bit me on the toe and the venom ran down the side of my toe and over the top of it,” he said. “Wherever that venom touches, it eats flesh—it’s like acid and felt like someone dipped my foot in lava,” he said.
For the next several days, Ashley said he continued seeing his local and out-of-town doctor.
In addition, samples of the bite were taken and analyzed.
Wesley Medical Center found three specific strains of bacteria, he said, and the specialist started him on a new round of antibiotics.
Ashley said he still is unable to return to work because of the bite. The effects of the spider bite had started getting into the base of his foot, he said, where three toes come together.
“I was on IV antibiotics for almost two weeks, going to Hillsboro Community Hospital twice a day for an hour at a time,” he said.
In addition to the antibiotic regiment, Ashley said he was also going back and forth to Wesley Medical Center for wound care.
The last step in the process before he could be cleared for work is debridement, which requires removing the damaged tissue from around the infected area.
“One of my big concerns is the infection and if they might have to remove my toe,” he said, “but so far the antibiotics have kept that from happening.”
When Ashley asked his doctor about when he can return to work, he said he was told there is no timeframe.
He said: “The doctor told me it could be three to four months and all I could say is, ‘What?’”
“Brown recluse spiders are all over,” Ashley said. “They are in garages, secluded places and behind stored boxes.”
Although he said he isn’t phobic when it comes to spiders and even brown recluses, in the future he will be more proactive by having certain medical supplies on hand.
“I am not a doctor, but I have been a first aid attendant, lifeguard and I am taking EMT classes,” he said.
The difference between his first brown recluse bite and the more recent one, he said, is that he identified the first bite in less than 24 hours.
Although Ashley said he would be the first person to recommend people see a physician if they have been bitten, he chose to do some of the doctoring himself.
One of the supplies he used in Lehigh and will keep nearby is a stinger kit, which has a plunger and different sized suction cups that can be bought at most drugstores.
After realizing he was bit by a venomous spider, he said he put the suction cup to the bite and pressed the plunger.
“It was actually capable of removing the venom of the spider,” he said.
Ashley has also looked online for home remedies and other natural curing.
“I am not afraid to go to a doctor, it’s just that if I know what is wrong, I think I can do as well treating myself,” he said.
Along with the spider bite in mid-August, Ashley said he had barely recuperated from a hernia operation two months earlier. Yet with all his recent afflictions, Ashley tries not to let it get him down.
He and Grace moved to Hillsboro from Lehigh in January and both agree they are happy to be here and looking forward to getting back to their favorite sport of bow hunting.