Mom Finds Out Daughter Had A Brown Recluse Bite After Nurses Said It Was ‘Just A Pinch’

A woman’s intuition is an inexplicable, supernatural type of gift that can help us navigate the world with more ease if we listen to it. And when a woman becomes a mother, that intuition extends to include the well-being of her children. But a mother’s intuition can’t be measured or proven and many times, in more academic or medical spaces, it can be devalued or ignored entirely.

This happened when one mother suspected that her child had been seriously injured. But medical professionals dismissed her concerns. Thankfully, she listened to her child and her instincts. It likely saved her daughter’s life.

Adalynn was bit around 7 a.m. By the afternoon, she started feeling sick.
Missouri mom Jessica Calvillo was going through her morning routine with her daughter, 9-year-old Adalynn McDowell, when the girl complained of a “pinch” on her arm. “Around 7 a.m., she was removing her nightgown and felt a little poke near her armpit area,” Calvillo told People. “She said she wanted to donate the nightgown because it had a tag in it that was poking her.”

Thinking little of the moment, the two continued preparing for school. Everything was OK when Jessica dropped Adalynn off that morning. “She was perfectly fine, happy and healthy. And then, at about noon, her symptoms started,” she said.

@jessica_.h3 Replying to @jamiejammerz ♬ original sound – Jessica C

Jessica said medical professionals made her feel like her fears didn’t matter.

At 1 p.m., the school nurse called Jessica to say that Adalynn was in extreme pain. “She said it felt like lighting shot in her armpit and then she had a fever and chills,” Jessica explained. “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.” Immediately, Jessica thought it was a spider bite.

She took Adalynn to the emergency room but didn’t get the care she was hoping for. “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,” she said.

But the nurse practitioner barely glanced at Adalynn’s arm before saying, “Oh no, that’s not a bite, it’s just a pinch.” The nurse attributed the fever to a virus or COVID. Jessica was not convinced.

“My sister came up there and my sister and I both insisted to the practitioner several times that it was not a pinch. We waited and when she came back in to discharge us, she told us that most of her swab results came back but one and there was no need for us to wait,” Jessica says.

“She took one more look at my daughter’s arm and said, ‘It does look a little red, so to make you feel better, I’ll send in antibiotics.’”

The first nurse hadn’t given them a list of signs or symptoms to watch out for. “It made me feel like our fears, in her opinion, didn’t matter. I already know I was going to another emergency room,” she explained. Jessica went in search of a second opinion, but sadly, the second hospital visit wasn’t any better.

“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,” Jessica explained.

At least this time, Jessica was armed with a list of symptoms to indicate the red spot on her daughter’s arm was something more serious. Within hours, Adalynn’s condition went from bad to worse.

@jessica_.h3 Replying to @lillyandkadee ♬ original sound – Jessica C

After a rough night of no sleep and more severe symptoms, Jessica took Adalynn back to the doctor.
“It was about 5 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,” Jessica recalled.

When Adalynn went to the bathroom there was a “terrifying” amount of blood in the toilet. Jessica returned to the hospital. This time, within an hour, doctors confirmed that the girl had indeed been bitten. They transferred her to a children’s hospital, two hours away, to be observed.

Adalynn was in the hospital for six days, receiving care from several different medical professionals.

“She had a general surgeon and an infectious disease doctor. She was under the care of a plastic surgeon, hematology, orthopedic surgery, and nephrology, and she had to have a blood transfusion because of humanistic anemia, which caused a complete breakdown of all her red blood cells,” her mom said.

There were also three days where Adalynn had to keep her arm lifted above her head in a sling to assist in proper blood circulation. Even after she was released from the hospital, there were still worries.

“They were concerned with her kidneys shutting down and that was, I think, one of the main concerns, especially after she was released from the hospital. So, she had several doctor appointments and had to go several times to have blood drawn to check her kidney function. It was the one thing we struggled with the most, even after we were discharged,” Jessica explained.

Adalynn was happy to know that she could still do the things she loved.
Ultimately, after a 76-day recovery period, missing school and the entire softball season, Adalynn recovered swimmingly.

“She was scared but we tried our hardest to keep her from understanding how bad it was or how bad it could have been,” the mom said. “I think with the type of person she is, she could realize we were all so scared that she was trying to be brave for us. Even through all her pain and drowsiness from the medication, she’d give us smiles. I knew the smiles were for me. They weren’t necessarily her happy smiles but more of a reassuring, ‘it’s going to be OK,’ thing.”

And it was. Adalynn made the all-star softball team this fall. She hit a home run on the first day she was allowed to play. Adalynn and her family are happy to know that she can still do all of the things she once loved.

Now that Adalynn has recovered, Jessica is sharing her story so other people know how much damage brown recluse bites can cause. She also hopes doctors will be more open to listening to a parents’ concerns. “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.”