I woke up, as usual, to the sounds of the fundies (tradies) arriving for work, birds and monkeys squalling in the baobab tree and the gentle lap of Kilifi Creek’s waters when I noticed the bite on my leg. Right there, on my left shin, just right of the bone.

The next day I woke up and the small mozzie-like bite had swollen. It looked as though a golf ball had been implanted in my leg. And it fuckin’ hurt. Just lookin’ at it shot a bolt of pain to my receptors. For whatever logical reason, I figured I’d leave it alone and let my body sort it out. Turns out that without some outside help, the body tends to struggle with these kinds of things.

A closer look had me concluding that it was a spider bite. Couldn’t be anything else.


“Looks like a boil,” said Louie.

“It’s not a boil,” I said. “It’s a spider bite.”

“Looks like a boil,” said Ibby.

“It’s not a boil,” I said. “It’s a spider bite.”

“Looks like a boil,” said Romain.

“It’s a spider bite,” I insisted. “I don’t get boils.”

“Gipu,” Mzee Baraka, the adoptive grandfather that takes care of the Musafir volunteers said.

“What’s a ‘gipu’?” I asked Ibby to translate.


“It’s a spider bite,” I repeated. “I don’t get boils.”

The next day my golf ball began to ooze pus and blood. I figured I’d assist it by pushing the muck out. The pain of squeezing the ball almost knocked me out. After two days the golf ball began to deflate but the skin had turned black. My thinking was that the wound was scabbing over but it continued to ooze and was still quite painful.

I decided to stay out of the water and do small jobs around the Musafir house. After a week and a half I was convinced by Rohini to go to the hospital. She was good enough to come with me for support. I entered the casualty ward (great name for a ward) and was taken in by Dr Jin of Indian heritage.

I joked with him for a bit, explaining how everyone had claimed it to be a boil.

“It’s definitely not a boil,” he said. “It’s a spider bite.”

“I knew it,” I grinned at Rohini. “I don’t get boils.”

“I’ll have to make a small incision to get the pus out,” he said.

“Do whatchya gotta do, Doc,” I grinned, staring at Rohini for refuge.

“This might hurt,” the doc leaned over and I almost broke the examining bed I was lying on from squeezing it so hard. After a few minutes of torture a conclusion was concluded:

A young Kenyan doctor stood beside me, watching the work done on my leg.

“It doesn’t look good,” he said with a smile.

“What doesn’t look good?” my eyebrow almost hitting the stratosphere.

“The black stuff is dead skin,” Dr Jin looked closer. “I’m going to have to cut it out, clean out the wound and then keep it covered. You’ll have to change the dressing every day. I’m going to give you local anesthetic.” The doc looked at me. “It doesn’t always work.”

“The anesthetic?” I asked.

“Yes, it doesn’t always work.”

Welcome to Africa. “Well, dead skin doesn’t sound very good so I’ll take the risk.” He injected me several times. Not wanting to watch folk digging into my leg I kept my eyes on Rohini who coached me and reminded me to breathe as my hold on the examining bed tightened to crushing point.

“Can you feel this?” asked the doc.

“Nope, you’re good,” I said without dropping my gaze from Ro.

The doc went in and I held on for the ride.

“It looks very bad,” the young Kenyan doctor commentated.

Can we remove this guy? I telepathically drilled to Rohini who seemed to understand my plight.

“Maybe avoid saying things like that at this current moment,” she said calmly to the intern who realised the point and shut up.

Meanwhile, Dr Jin dug out the skin, the pus and dead tissue and then covered the wound. I felt immensely better now that all that muck was out of my leg. But now I had a hole about an inch deep and big enough to house an Australian 50-cent coin. I know this cause I caught a glimpse in my peripheral. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the flesh that is usually covered by skin that was now taking in its new, exposed surroundings.

“You’re very lucky,” the doc said. “If it had reached the bone you would have been in trouble. This should heal in a few weeks time.”

“You’re very lucky,” concurred the young intern.

A small, online investigations leads me too believe that the bite was that of a recluse spider.

Told you it’s not a boil.

Categories: Adventure Travel, Africa, Kenya | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A WEB OF INJURY

  1. Pingback: HITCH HIKING IN KENYA – PART VI | The Nomadic Diaries

  2. Fabienne

    hahaha what a good story and of course I am happy it tourned out well. how are you guys besides suffering from spiderbites / boils ;) ?
    kiss, fabienne

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