On one of my trips to India, I was bitten in my bed by a yellow spider. I saw the spider and I felt the bite. This was the last full day in India for that trip. That evening, I left for the airport but for the early morning flight the next morning. As I waited overnight and even on board the plane as we made our way back home my finger felt swollen and itchy. 

It was after a stopover in Zurich, Switzerland that I realized that I was developing red dots all over, an apparent allergic reaction probably to the spider bite. When I reached the Montreal airport, I requested a medical checkup because my condition was unusual. I felt not just a concern for my own health but also for public health. Was I going to spread a strange disease? An ambulance arrived with a rolling gurney looking for an incapacitated patient. I told them, “No, no. I’m ambulatory. I think I’m having an allergic reaction to a spider bite, but I just need to double check with you.”

Seated in the ambulance, the medics were astounded by the color display all over my chest and back. They asked, “Are you having trouble breathing?” “No, I can breathe fine.” They agreed it looked like an allergic reaction to the spider bite, though they offered to keep me overnight on observation if I wanted.

I declined, and said I would take a warm bath when I got home to reduce the symptoms. When I arrived home I discovered my conscientious neighbor had turned off my hot water heater to save my electric bill while I was away. There was no hot water to take a bath with. I thanked my neighbor the next day but remarked that it would be fine to have me pay to keep the water hot while I am away.