Lauren Boddy, 27, from Reading explains how something was terrorising her and her family...
Woozy, I tried my best to focus on the baby outfits and balloons, the chatter and the giggles.
I was at a friend’s Sunday- afternoon baby shower – but, instead of feeling joyous, I felt sick.
I’d been feeling worse and worse since the Thursday before, 11 May 2017, when I’d noticed a red mark on my leg while I sat on the loo.
Thinking it was a spot, I gave it a little prod and squeeze. Thought nothing more of it.
Only now it was agony. I could barely put any weight on the leg.
Finally, I decided to go to hospital.
‘Have you been abroad lately?’ the doctor asked.
‘No,’ I said.
Strange. They thought it looked like a spider bite.
‘If it gets worse, come back,’ doctors said, prescribing me antibiotics.
I’d heard of false widow spiders which can bite. Could be one of those, I thought.
But the furthest I’d been was the garden… Where we had a brand-new wooden Wendy house for the kids.
We’d had to carry it through our place to get it to the back garden.
Had a spider jumped out from its wooden home?
Two days later, I felt even worse. I was shivering, had a red line running down my thigh and the bite area was oozing pus.
Scared, I went back to hospital, where I was admitted.
I was put on an antibiotic drip – and, the next day…
‘We’ll need to operate,’ doctors said.
While I was there, my mum Lisa, 50, and my ex Luke, 25, looked after my four kids Nathaniel, 6, twins Morgan and Rowan, 4, and Luca, 2.
My mind raced.
What if this happened to them?
I’d noticed something on Morgan’s head, a lump…Was that a bite too?
The doctor hadn’t been sure at the time, and Morgan had been OK.
Then Luke was bitten, too – on his privates! Before we knew it, I was back home, and Luke was in hospital.
Thankfully, doctors managed to help him before it got worse like mine had.
But this spider was gunning for all of us!
‘If I find it…’ I threatened.
‘We’ve blitzed the house,’ Mum reassured me. ‘And bleached the Wendy house!’
That was all we could do.
But I knew it was hiding somewhere at home.
Then, a few weeks later, as my leg was slowly healing…
‘Ouch!’ I yelled as I rolled over in bed, having a cuddle with Luca.
It was the spider again, I was sure of it.
I raced to hospital.
It was like Groundhog Day!
This time, surgeons had to take a chunk of skin from my lower back, even removed some of my tattoo.
I was gutted.
When would this spider’s reign of terror end?
Then, a couple of weeks after the first bite, I was with the kids when I saw something move.
‘There!’ I shrieked. It was on the cape of one of the kids’ dressing-up outfits.
‘It’s the spider!’ I shrieked.
Grabbing a glass, I covered the critter. Got him!
But what now..? I yelled for my mum.
‘Calm down!’ she told me.
As I looked at the spider, each time I moved the glass it curled up, putting its legs under its big, cream bum.
‘You little…’ I fumed.
Going online, we tried to work out what it was.
With reddy-ginger legs and a big creamy-white body, it appeared to be a woodlouse spider.
Meanwhile, it was still under the glass.
Until I cracked.
I took off the glass, and hit the spider with my slipper about 10 times!
Cruel? I think not.
I had a huge plaster on my back, a scar on my thigh.
I couldn’t bear to think what’d happen if that thing bit me or one of the kids again.
It was my slipper against eight legs… The only way to stop that evil beastie woodlouse spider from bugging us to death.
And now, finally, our bite-mare is over!