Monday 15 October 2018

'I was unconscious, got the shakes, and started frothing at the mouth'

Eugene Murphy tells of near-death encounter when he was bitten by spider in Dublin

Geraldine Gittens

Geraldine Gittens

A young father-of-one has told how he almost died when he was attacked and bitten by a lethal false widow spider.

Eugene Murphy (28) spent 24 hours in intensive care and had to be injected twice with adrenalin after going into cardiac arrest last Saturday.

The Dublin man, who runs an engineering company, was bitten three times in ten minutes by the venomous spider – in the side and the shoulder.

Eugene told how he was sitting on his parents’ couch with his four year-old son Eoin when he felt a pain that was “ten times worse than a bone break”.

“I came back from work, sat down on the couch and felt a bite on my side and then a bite on my shoulder.”

“I witnessed the thing literally getting stuck in, and I actually had to tug it away from me to get it out. The fangs were embedded underneath the skin. A lump of skin came off with it when I took it out.”

Eugene Murphy (28) spent 24 hours in intensive care.
Eugene Murphy (28) spent 24 hours in intensive care.
The Dublin man was bitten three times in ten minutes by the venomous spider.
A black widow spider.

“I wouldn’t have thought twice about the two earlier bites, but with the third bite he was really getting stuck in. He was bopping up and down, literally like a bull in a field. That’s the only way I’d describe it.”

“It was proper fire on my shoulder. It was ten times worse than any bone break. He was kicking well anyway.”

Luckily, Eugene’s father was in the room at the time and he immediately called emergency services when his son collapsed to the floor.

“I remember my throat shutting and my eyes going. I banged my head on the ground and my eyes were going, and then I was out.”

“My Dad and my brother were there, and they saw me going into the shakes and frothing at the mouth. They were keeping my tongue out and making sure that I was safe, and my Dad actually gave me mouth-to-mouth.”

“I remember waking up with the fire brigade. They brought me out to the ambulance, but I don’t remember that, and they gave me adrenaline.”

“The next day, a guy from the fire brigade came in to visit me and he said ‘I thought you were a goner’.”

“The agony of it. They put morphine in me, and the adrenaline twice, and still with the pain of it apparently I was roaring the place down. They put straps on me to hold me down but I broke one of the straps.”

“All of Sunday, I don’t really remember it, but I was jumping around the place with the pain.”

The false widow spider, an inch in diameter, was black with white spots.

Eugene said he believes he carried it home from work, and wouldn’t have thought twice if he’d spotted it before it bit him because of its small size.

“I’d usually be the one slagging people off for being afraid of spiders,” he said.

“I brought it home from work, I’d say. I think it came from the van. We do a lot of work around the water meters and utilities, and those places carry a lot of spiders.”

“If it got the young lad [his son], they wouldn’t have survived. They were gone.”

The businessman, who is six-feet tall and well built, was told by medical staff in Tallaght Hospital that his level of fitness helped him to survive.

Doctors from around the hospital came to see the bites after Eugene had recovered, and they nicknamed him "Spidey" and "Spiderman".

“The dietician told me that if I hadn’t been fit, I would have been goosed. The adrenaline kept me going luckily. I’m blessed to be honest.”

“I have to keep an eye on the heart because the heart goes irregular for a while when this happens. I’ll have a check-up in a couple of month’s time.”

“I feel grand now. I’ve been told that I’ll feel a bit woozy with the adrenalin still running through my system.”

"The doctors were calling me Spidey and Spiderman," he laughed.

Mr Murphy said awareness through word of mouth might save someone else’s life.

“People don’t know what they look like. People tell you about a wasp, but they don’t tell you about this. Keep the kids away from them - that's the realistic thing of it."

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