This is not the night I envisioned for myself, and not the post I was set to write. But all's well that ends well.
I was standing in the kitchen about to flop a breaded piece of chicken into the pan when The Kid walked in and announced that his foot hurt. He's eight and a boy, so bumps and bruises are not terribly uncommon. But glancing in the general direction of his lifted foot, there was a noticeable swelling of flesh near his heel.
Closer inspection led The Man and I to pronounce the swelling nothing more than a bruise caused by The Kid's inadequate shoes. (The Kid came back from his dad's on Sunday wearing shredded shoes. His only alternatives at the moment are a couple pair of Converse, which is what he wore today during P.E.) The Kid didn't remember hurting it, landing hard, or stepping on anything. But again: he's eight and a boy. These mysteries happen.
After dinner and homework, The Kid complained that his foot was still hurting. I wanted him to finish up his night-time chores and crawl into bed where I planned to slather the bump with arnica. I pulled out the first aid kit while The Kid sat on the bathroom floor and brushed his teeth. Kneeling down to check the swelling one last time, I noticed something new.
Two red lines were snaking away from the bump, extending about 2 inches towards his inner ankle.
I allowed myself to make the assessment that this was not good, and ignored the thoughts that wanted to define how not good. ("We're going to have to amputate his leg!") I called The Man in for a second opinion, saw the alarm in his eyes, and began to worry in earnest.
This couldn't just be a bruise. And The Kid didn't remember stepping on anything (like a rusty nail). So... spider bite? We returned to the suspected scene of the crime (where The Kid's foot first started hurting) and began digging through the blankets around his bed where he'd been reading before dinner, searching for the offending spider. I checked and rechecked The Kid's temperature and asked again and again if he had a headache or felt dizzy. I marked the red streaks climbing up his foot to measure their progress. The Man started looking online for clues.
You all know what happens when you look online for clues, right? The primary clue one finds is that WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! You could Google "hang nail" and walk away convinced you have only seconds to live.
In this particular case, fairly certain we were dealing with a spider bite, The Man started looking at information on poisonous spiders known to inhabit these parts. Seattle's spider lore centers around the hobo, a spider whose bite causes rotting flesh similar to the more widely known brown recluse.
I'm sharing a photo of the hobo rather than the wounds they cause. Turns out, photos of rotting flesh are not awesome.
Between reading about how WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! and viewing photos of the many possible ways WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (thanks again, Google), I continued to check on The Kid's foot, which thankfully seemed to be getting better. Those scary deadly infection lines were still there, but less red and angry looking. The swelling seemed to be going down. And The Kid refused to run a fever.
All seemed to be going well, but I called the 24 hour nurse line just to be certain. She DID NOT like the sound of those red lines and, after much clicking on her keyboard, decided that she needed to call the doctor at home.
She called back quickly with the doc's diagnosis: inflammation. The red lines, in this case, were a result of the inflammation but NOT a sign of infection. Still... The Kid will be under doctor ordered surveillance for the next 24 hours, just in case.
In the end, The Kid got two children's motrin and some hydrocortisone cream for his woes. And that headache I kept asking him about? I got that.