Dealing with an infected spider bite on Lombok island

It’s hard to enjoy paradise when you’re in pain. I’m sure those were Dave’s thoughts as we lounged on a beach on the tropical island of Lombok, not far from Bali. The water was pristine – a deep blue – and as the sun reflected off the white sand, I lazed with a coconut in one arm and a book in my hand. It was idyllic. I was heaven. Dave, however, was not… he had an infected spider bite.

A few days earlier he had what he thought was a pimple grow on his lower arm. Unfortunately, it was a bit more sinister than a pimple, which is the realisation we quickly came to as his arm ballooned from an infection. Dave was walking around with an arm bigger than Popeye’s, and although he didn’t have a fever, the arm was causing him discomfort and pain.

Lombok beach Double-Barrelled Travel

The beautiful beach on Lombok where Dave could hardly enjoy as he was, understandably, worried about his arm

Travel insurance problems

We were well into our third year of continuous travel, due to head back to our hometown of Perth in just a couple of week’s time. The week prior, our travel insurance with Southern Cross Travel Insurance had run out. Knowing we were heading home shortly, we didn’t both to renew it. We hadn’t used it once in the three years we’d been on the road, so surely we wouldn’t need it for our final fortnight? We were wrong.

Lombok beach

A beautiful Lombok beach. Source: Schristia from Flickr.

Lombok’s dodgy doctors try to deal with Dave’s infected spider bite

Together with our travel buddy Lauren, we searched for a doctor’s surgery along the high street of Lombok. We went into a clinic which had a few beds dotted behind the front desk. A man, who we supposed was a doctor, came out from the back.

“How can I help?” he asked.

Dave explained the situation.

“I think that’s an infected spider bite!” the man replied. “We must pop it!”

I looked at Dave. Sweat had broken out on his brow. Lauren looked at me with an eyebrow raised.

“How are you going to do it?” I asked.

“Wait here,” he replied, heading out the back again and returning with what looked like a used scalpel and a rusty tin bowl.

“Uh, guys, you don’t have to do this,” Lauren advised wisely, after glancing quickly at the doctor’s tools.

“I think we might take a moment to think about it,” Dave said, before making a hasty exit. Lauren and I quickly followed after him.Bali hospital

Seeking treatment in Bali for the infected spider bite

We smartly didn’t seek treatment from the dodgy doctor but by the following day, Dave’s arm had got worse. It was red and tight, and the swelling was making him look very uncomfortable. We were starting to worry. Dave joked that he might have to get his arm amputated if he didn’t seek proper medical help soon. Although he was joking, we could tell he was worried, and so we returned to Bali to seek help.

We went to BIMC Hospital in Denpasar, which is a high quality tourist hospital. There they gave Dave a host of drugs and two injections to fight the infection. The doctor there told him he shouldn’t squeeze the bite for a couple more days, as it wasn’t ready for the pus to come out yet (gross!)

So, luckily we didn’t heed the dodgy Lombok doctor’s advice, and squeezed the bite, as it would’ve been very painful for Dave and could’ve resulted in an even bigger infection.

Out of pocket expenses for the infected spider bite

What was the damage for Dave’s treatment? Just over $350. Ouch. I was kicking myself, because if we’d bothered to extend our policy with Southern Cross Travel Insurance for two more weeks – for a small fee! – we would’ve saved ourselves hundreds.

Normally I am very careful with insurance when we travel, but I slipped up. I’ll never make that mistake again, that’s for sure! Because, it’s always when you think you won’t need the insurance that you will. Moral of the story – always seek cover for any travel scenario.

Dave’s arm eventually healed, as we recuperated at Nirwana Resort in East Bali. I had the joyful task of squeezing the pus out for him a few days later. We are well and truly married, if you didn’t already guess. Dave jokes that if we’d filmed it, it would’ve been our highest viewed YouTube video yet! Unluckily for our readers, I turned down his requests to film the event.

Daves infected arm Double-Barrelled Travel

The infected arm on day one – it got worse!

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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