About two months ago I saw a huge bump on my left calf with a red circle around it. I wasn’t sure if it was Lyme’s disease so I went to the local drug store to speak with the pharmacist. She thought it was a spider bite and advised seeing my doctor. It was a Sunday so I spent time on the internet reading various home remedies and tried to dismiss the posts by people that spoke about needing to have it cut out by surgery. There were also posts that discussed how spider bites could be confused with staph infections. I tried a home remedy of mixing baking soda and salt into a paste which did seem to some draining. I am not going to get too graphic here, but the surrounding area a few hours later blew up and seemed to get more swollen and red . (Photo Credit-depositphotos/interactimages).
I needed to take some over the counter ibuprofen to help sleep and reduce the throbbing and my doctor. He gave me an antibiotic, cortisone cream and said to continue with the compresses and baths. It was still large and painful for about a month. I continued with the follow-up appointments with the doctor, treated it a few times a day and watched how my mind went down various fears about staph infection, MRSA or surgery. I continued to go to work, but had to cancel my yoga classes each week.There are many threads on the internet on spider bites and I kept finding my way back to read them and fuel the fears.
When you go through something that appears to come out of left field, you can see all the dark corners of your mind. It took about five weeks to be sure that I was out of the woods , but until then it was scary to see the area surrounding the bite continue to swell and increase in inflammation. (Please know that each case Is different and that it is important to get medical advice for a spider bite as serious infections as well as surgery can be necessary for some situations).
Watching The Mind
One thing I did was to try to gain perspective when I would freak out. I told myself that this was a spider bite and the worst case scenario would be surgery (though there are some horror stories I read about muscle and bone damage for some people). Of course, I continued taking antibiotics and watching to be sure infection didn’t become an issue. I wouldn’t read the internet posts late at night as that would fuel bad sleep and thoughts. Whatever situation you are in that creates fear for you, try to not feed the terror. This means not going through the tape loops that make your breathing shallow, heart race and panic accelerate. It takes discipline to do this as you want to review it one more time.
I would force myself to remember what I was grateful for when I felt I was heading into a spiral . I had good health, supportive friends and that there are so many people who have gone through much worse. This was not life-threatening and that is the bottom line.
Using Breath and Meditation
I did different breaths over the five week period but one I came back to a lot was placing a small pillow on my belly as I stayed on my back and feeling the belly and pillow raise up when I’d inhale. This helped the diaphragm relax and counteracted the shallow, chest breathing . This would get rid of that nervous feeling in my body and broke through physical agitation.
In terms of a meditation that I found helpful, I did a kundalini meditation where you inhale and repeat a mantra 11 times. Then you exhale and with breath held out repeat the mantra 11 times. You can use any mantra for this and I often used Wahe Guru (the movement from darkness to light). Other mantras could be Shalom, Peace, Sat Nam, Om, Amen or anything that speaks to you. When the breath is suspended this way, it helps us to get off adrenaline and opens up the parasympathetic nervous system so we aren’t on fight or flight responses.
Lessons and Reflections
Another helpful reflection is on what the lesson is for the ordeal or hardship. I saw it gave me more compassion for my clients as I realized how I at times would minimize someone’s skin issues since they weren’t life-threatening. Inflammation can be very mentally consuming.
I also thought about how something so tiny can have a big effect. It was humbling to see that. A little spider really took me down! Things can happen that we’d never expect. The sting of life is a spur though it is usually unwanted. I was either at Whole Foods outside cafe or at the beach when this occurred.
Another way I thought about something small leading to something large was the Confucius quote below:
I also wanted to mention with the New Year coming, I put my book on Addictions for Free for Dec 30th and Dec 31st on Amazon so be sure to pick it up Tuesday or Wednesday HERE. And if you are looking for an inexpensive home study course for 3 CEU credits towards license renewal or just for your own self-knowledge you can read more HERE.