9-year-old believes shirt tag pinched her, but mom discovers rapidly spreading brown Recluse Spider bite

Jessica Case 3
Photo: People, Jessica Calvillo

No one likes those annoying tags inside clothes. The constant irritation and discomfort that a tag brings is a known fact. But who knew for Jessica Calvillo, things would take a drastic turn when her 9-year-old daughter Adalynn McDowell complained of a pinch while changing clothes, which turned out to be something much worse than just a tag bite.

In an exclusive interview with People, Calvillo explained, “Around 7 a.m., she was removing her nightgown and felt a little poke in her arm, near her armpit area. She said she wanted to donate the nightgowns because it had a tag in it that was poking her,” but without paying much attention and not contributing to the fuss, the two young ladies carried on with their routine, and Calvillo dropped McDowell at school.

That is when the shocking news came in. “She was perfectly fine, happy and healthy. And then, at about noon, her symptoms started,” Calvillo said.

She found out that Adalynn was feeling intense pain in her arm. “She said it felt like lightning shot in her armpit and then she had fever chills. Her skin was pale and clammy and her lips were purple and she was just shivering. She couldn’t stop shaking and she was kind of hunched over,” Calvillo recalls her daughter’s misery.

On taking McDowell to the Emergency Room, things still did not come under control. Calvillo had then started suspecting the poke to be a Spider bite, that too of a Recluse Spider, which is common in their area.

Jessica Case
Photo: People, Jessica Calvillo

Calvillo told People, “I explained to them all of her symptoms and what had happened and that I suspected the poke on her arm was actually a spider bite because the brown recluse spider is very common in the area we live in.”

Missouri finds a lot of spiders, especially the Recluse Spiders, also called Violin Spiders or Reapers. They are poisonous in nature and can give a series of symptoms after their bite called Loxoscelism. There have also been reports of 2014 by People where they mention the house having 6000 Recluse Spiders.

These spiders can be considered not so aggressive, but if their symptoms are not recognized, the damage can be fatal. So was the case with Calvillo and McDowell. The anxious mother kept speaking to the nurse, and People reports, “I had explained that to the nurse practitioners who barely glanced at my daughter’s arm before saying, ‘Oh no, that’s not a bite, it’s just a pinch.'”

The mother then took her child to other emergency rooms, and while some speculated and tested the 9-year-old for COVID-19, others just sent in antibiotics.

Jessica Case 2
Photo: People, Jessica Calvillo

To show her disappointment, Calvillo mentions,  “It kind of broke my heart because I’m a mom who is scared for my child. I wanted somebody to help me and I felt like nobody cared enough to help me. And my daughter, my 9-year-old daughter, was realizing that as well, and it just kind of broke my heart.”

It was only the next day at 5:00 a.m. that things worsened. “It was about 5:00 a.m. the next morning, less than 12 hours later … I knew things were severe. She got absolutely no sleep at all. I tried alternating Tylenol and Ibuprofen. I even gave her melatonin to try to help her sleep. Nothing helped.”

When Adalyn went to the washroom, she saw heavy blood flow and was lying in bed with pain. While talking to People, the mother mentions, “She was definitely experiencing the pain fully, she knew that something was off.” When she was taken to a hospital, they asked her to be admitted on the diagnosis of a Recluse spider bite. She was taken two hours away for treatment.

While everyone around her, especially from her family and village, supported her, the general surgeons did their best when Adalyn was given a blood transfusion due to Humanistic Anemia, reports People.

Jessica also says, “Her hand was basically resting in a tube above her head, and she was on that for three days and that helped with the swelling and kind of moving the swelling from her hand, down the rest of her body.” Today, she is fine, but even after discharge, the kidneys and their functioning were a concern.

Today, she has returned to playing softball and always responds with brighter smiles. The scar on her arm is proof of her strength and her fighter spirit. Today, she has younger siblings to engage with and is a happy child. To conclude, Jessica mentions a rigid medical system and says, “It’s not always one size fits all when it comes to medical situations, and if a parent is extremely scared and they have these fears and concerns, you can do something to make them feel better, even if it seems to you like it’s not needed.”