The Brown Recluse and the Old Woman Who Knows

 

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Ten years ago, Carol and I lived in an aging trailer on the Navajo Nation in the sagebrush BrownRecluseSpideroutside Twin Lakes, New Mexico. One evening after a rough day of teaching, I came home to be reminded that Carol would be at a teacher’s meeting until dark. Since I had the time, I took a hot shower and found that I had crushed a brown recluse spider in my towel. I didn’t have a bite anywhere that I could tell, so I gave a shrug and started to get dressed.

By the time I had my clothes on, I had a fiery pain in my left knee. I dropped my breeches and had a look. I saw no sign of a bite, Exif_JPEG_420but my kneecap itched and felt fevered, and the pain in my knee was quickly becoming hard to bear. I filled the tub with hot water and sat in it for a good long while. When I walked Carol home after her meeting, I was in such pain that the best I could do was hobble. When we got home, I remembered that Microhydrin had completely eliminated the pain and swelling from a bark scorpion sting, so I took six of them.

turquoise02The next day I was greatly improved, but I limped all day. My principal, a Navajo lady who had spent her life Red Rocks NM 11-30-09_1around such spiders, told me to try a poultice of Chee dirt, the reddest dirt to be found in the bluff faces in those parts. “If that doesn’t do it,” she said, “try the flea market.”

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indicators-fleaI was much better by the weekend, but my knee joint was still painful to use, and I now had a half ping-pong ball sort of pocket full of fluid, right on the face of my knee cap, so Carol dee8f15d78c08a6e54ac1d55d0cad72aand I went wandering about inquiring at the Saturday morning Gallup flea market. We were quickly directed to “the old woman who knows,” who turned out GallupFleaMarketto be an old blind woman sitting at a table, who knew not one word of English. With the help of onlookers to translate, she sold us a bundle of herbs and told us how to make poultices from it to keep wrapped to my knee.

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My dichotomous keys were all back in Illinois, so I was never certain, but I think she may have sold us a generous wad of sage and lavender, which I dutifully applied. By the next weekend, her herbs had indeed done away with the pain, but I still have the pocket of fluid on my knee cap to this day.

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A few months later, I was bitten on the elbow. This time, I immediately commenced taking six Microhydrin every twelve hours for four days and keeping strong magnets wrapped SONY DSCabout the joint with elastic bandage to keep the capillary beds open. It started out every bit as painful as my knee had been. In four days though, there was no trace of anything at all, not even a pocket of fluid.

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So please tell us what adventures you’ve had with venomous spiders and the like.

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Tom Phipps

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