Have you ever THOUGHT there was a spider crawling on you but it turns out you're just paranoid? Yes? Well then consider yourself lucky.
For Fiona Donagh, she would have loved to have been paranoid on Boxing Day when she came face to face with a male funnel-web spider: one of the world's most deadly spiders. The bite of a funnel-web spider can kill you in 15 minutes.
Fiona told her incredible story about her encounter with the spider, and it was nothing short of terrifying.
"It was Boxing Day and my sister was staying. We probably went to bed about 10 or 11, I'd had a couple of glasses of bubbly that evening being Christmas time, so I went to bed and woke up some time and went to the loo. I came back to bed and was almost asleep again, it was very hot night and I was tossing and turning as you do, and I actually felt something going up my right leg, I felt something crawl up my right leg and it did not feel at all familiar to me. So as you do if you feel a fly on your arm you brush it off, my reaction was to actually to kick my legs and arms in the air and that's when I felt it. It must have run or jumped very quickly to my torso and to under my left breast and I felt a very sharp pain and I knew I'd been bitten. Afterwards I discovered it had also bitten me on my upper left arm but I didn't feel that one immediately because the bite on my torso was so painful and so shocking. It was like a blue bottle jellyfish sting, I've been stung by a blue bottle and I've got to say the initial feeling was like a very bad jellyfish sting, that radiated. It wasn't local, after the first couple of seconds it became a burning sensation right across my torso. It felt like it was on fire. I hopped out of bed, it must have been just seconds from the first bite to my leaping out of bed and switching on the light, and the spider was sitting there on my bed, so I could see it immediately."
Somehow, Fiona had the presence of mind to trap the spider, grabbing a glass bowl from her kitchen.
"Something about growing up in Australia you hear a lot about spiders and snakes and I guess I'd heard from when I was younger that one of the most important things is correct identification," she said. "So even though this has never happened to me before, and normally I wouldn't go near a spider because I'm arachnophobic, I knew I needed to do something and trap it. I looked in the mirror and I could see the rash had already spread in the few seconds, within a minute, it was a red rash that looked a bit like sunburn across my torso."
Fiona called her sister to tell her she'd been bit and they both tried to figure out what kind of spider it was. They thought it might be a funnel web, but Fiona thought it would hurt more so she dismissed it. After about five minutes, Fiona called emergency services and was put on hold for about 15 minutes.
"So this was about 25 minutes after the bite. When the nurse came on the phone, I said I had been bitten by a large black spider, but I said my sister had said it wasn't a funnel-web. But she told me 'we are not spider experts, none of us, I will call the emergency services'. She said 'Tell me, how are you feeling now?' and just at that moment the first symptoms started to show, my lips started to go numb and started to go tingly and I could feel it spreading around my face and my tongue. And I said to the nurse 'Oh, I feel different now'."
That's when symptoms kicked in. Muscle spasms, face and lip tingling, sweating, and extreme saliva production.
The ambulance arrived 30 minutes later, and as Fiona was lying in the back of the vehicle she thought this was it for her. It wasn't until she thought of her son, Oscar, that she started fighting back.
At the hospital, Fiona was given the anti-venom necessary for a funnel-web bite and immediately she stopped sweating.
The spider, named Yorick, caused a lot of fuss at the hospital. No one had seen a live funnel-web spider.
Just as Fiona was to be transferred out of ICU, she started to go into heart failure. She had apparently suffered a heart attack and only 30% of her heart was functioning. She was kept for a few more days days and then seemed to make a miraculous recovery.
"The vital signs kept picking up and I was discharged on December 30 and my friends had been around and under strict instructions stripped the bed and washed the sheets," she said.
As for Yorick, the spider met an untimely death. Fiona had been keeping him the jar, but when a nurse went to poke holes in the container she accidentally stabbed Yorick and that was the end. Fiona, however, still has the spider.
"He's shrunk a bit now. He's a bit dehydrated to about a third of his size. I might plan to have some kind of send off for him, maybe a funeral or cremation."