False Widow
False Widow spider

When a lump appeared on my arm earlier this year I didn't think much of it. A month later it was the size of a fist and still growing and no amount of drugs seemed capable of stopping its spread.

It was late June when I first noticed a small bump on my upper arm, not far from what looked like some kind of insect bite. Over the next week the lump grew larger and gradually more painful.

When it became so sore that I could no longer straighten my arm I went to a walk-in clinic and was told by a GP that it was most likely an insect bite, with the venom causing the inflammation on the upper arm. I was prescribed a course of antibiotics and given some painkillers, antihistamines and a sling.

A few days after the trip to the doctor my partner found a strange-looking spider in the bedroom of our London flat.

A week went by with no signs of improvement and when the antibiotics finished, the swelling started to get worse again. Back at the doctors I showed the GP my arm and the picture of the spider and was told to go immediately to A&E.

The doctor believed the picture was of a False Widow spider and was concerned that if it was that causing the swelling I was at risk of the venom entering lymph nodes in my armpit and spreading rapidly throughout my body.

In hospital I was put on an intravenous drip and pumped through with antibiotics. The next day several blood tests assured doctors that I would be alright to return home and I was given another course of different antibiotics.

After another week the lump had not grown bigger but had transformed into a solid red and blue mass around my elbow that prevented me from bending my arm. I went to my local doctor to try and get the problem sorted once and for all.

I was given an UltraSound and two separate course of drugs and after two weeks my arm began to return to normal. It's now almost four months on from first spotting the lump and while the arm can now move freely and without any pain, there is still a small lump that refuses to go away.

Doctors told me that spider bites such as mine were common enough but rarely caused people any problems. Seeing reports of people having limbs amputated I count myself lucky but it seems more awareness needs to be raised around the dangers of False Widow spiders. I didn't even know this country had poisonous spiders and now it seems we have killer spiders.