All Photographs + Text Copyright 2012 Christopher Keeley

My poisonous spider bite.

In Zimbabwe my leg almost had to be amputated because a poisonous spider bit me and my leg became infected. This was during one of the worst times of my life as I was completely intoxicated most of the time. My preferred state of mind was to be in a blackout. I was oblivious of any productivity or being responsible in any manner.

I was not happy in life even though I was given every opportunity to succeed and was handed a luxurious way of life on a silver platter. I, however, was partying 24 hours seven days a week.

This particular night I was tripping on LSD, drinking, smoking Marijuana, recovering from a hangover, at Eddie’s house, where there happened to be a party in progress. I remember talking to these guys and feeling this annoying sting on my leg. I pulled off this tiny spider from my leg, not thinking very much about it. The guys I was talking with go on to explain that there are actually deadly poisonous spiders in Zimbabwe, and one has to be careful not to get bitten. Now I went out of my way to avoid spiders. I remember pulling off this spider from my leg like it was a mosquito, or even an annoying tick. I didn’t think much about it after that, just a vague recollection of this tiny spider on my leg that I squished accidentally because I felt this stinging on my leg almost like a bee sting.

The next day there was another party and I ate some acid and went to Eddie’s house, which was a big farmhouse on the edge of the city. We had plastered neon orange smiley faces all over the place on the wall outside and at the gate to alert the partiers that an acid festival was happening at Eddie’s house.

I remember just having received the new Police album on tape, Ghost in the Machine, and listening to it over and over again on the Walkman. To this day it brings back major nostalgia to me. I kissed my girlfriend Debbie for hours upon hours, until her lips were blue. I was so in love, but the acid made me see another side of her, which may also have been another side of me, so that after that trip I no longer wanted to go out with her. The same thing happened when I took LSD, and I no longer desired my girlfriend Valerie. It was horrible, because I was in love and infatuated. After the trip or during the delirium I saw another side of my lover that made me no longer desire her. I saw character flaws. Being the perfectionist and absolutist that I was, the LSD ruined whatever chances at a long-lasting relationship I could have with Debbie or Valerie. It changed my perception of them. I projected way into the future that this girl was not for marriage, or for me.

I also told them my true feelings, which hurt them to the point of crying. I would even say that I wasn’t going to take LSD any more. Both of these girls I had corrupted and they had bad LSD trips themselves. I was bad news. Now I was so high, I never felt that my leg was swelling up. I was high, drunk, tripping, taking Morphine intravenously. The third day I was limping and it occurred to me that something was wrong with my leg. By this time I was ending up in the emergency room frequently, from bar fights, from the desire to get drugs. From falling down and now because my leg was becoming Gangrenous. My hands were frequently swollen like boxing mitts, as well as my feet from shooting pinks (Wellconal). So my leg being infected was just another pain that I had to deal with. Being the chronic Alcoholic that I was, curing the hangover was my priority in life. All the other drugs helped in not being such a bad Alcoholic. I probably told myself that I was never going to drink again two hundred times. I had no control, no matter what the embarrassing situation that my drinking caused me. I took LSD until I couldn’t distinguish reality from fantasy. My Marijuana use led to extreme paranoia. I would make people whisper in my room because I was sure people could hear our activities even though we were in a remote part of the house without any possibility of anyone hearing or caring about our activities.

I recalled being bitten by the spider, and the doctor I finally went to hospitalized me. Had I gone to the hospital any later, my leg would have had to be amputated. I was in the hospital for a week while my leg was drained and healed. I also told the doctor that I preferred Wellconal as my pain medication, which he obliged. I was slick enough to steal the nurses’ syringes and to save up my pills for a shot, two at a time. I even shot Wellconal into my penis because I had no usable veins left. Getting that drug into my bloodstream was a priority even if it meant screwing up my sexual function for the rest of my life. Here I was in a hospital bed, about to lose my leg, and I was thinking that I was doing just fine because I had cute nurses, an unlimited drug supply, food, and I could sleep as long as I liked. I enjoyed being in the hospital. Where I was coming from was also complete luxury; I had servants waiting on me, booze, loving parents who tolerated me unconditionally. I didn’t want to grow up.

My leg got cured and I was discharged after ten days. I also used the “fact” that the doctor had prescribed me Wellconal had now made me addicted to that drug. I managed to convince the doctor to give me a few more prescriptions until he cut me off. I told him he couldn’t do that and he said he was leaving Zimbabwe for South Africa. He would only give me one more prescription. I took that prescription with me when I became a safari guide and cashed it in at the Victoria Falls Pharmacy. I even asked for a box of syringes to go with it.

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