Insurgent spider of Basra fells Scots Guard
Paul Conneally | June 6, 2008 at 12:10 amby
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A BRITISH soldier said yesterday he went to Iraq expecting to face dangerous insurgents – only to be felled by an exotic spider as he slept.
Graeme Boyd's left arm swelled to five times its normal size and he had seven operations after being bitten by the huge camel spider.
The 24-year-old soldier was flown back to Britain for treatment and his tour of duty seemed over – until a friend was hurt in Iraq and he decided to return.
Guardsman Boyd, of Maryhill, Glasgow, woke up with a numb arm on Christmas Day last year in camp in Basra.
But the married father of one did not suspect he had been bitten by one of the spiders, which have fang-lined pincers and can grow to the size of a car wheel.
"My arm was just dead. I felt as if I had been sleeping on it funny," he said. "A few days later, I started to be in pain."
When a doctor saw the size of his arm and noticed a hole the size of a pea near his shoulder, he was ordered straight into hospital.
The soldier, of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, said: "My whole arm from my shoulder to my wrist swelled up to five times its normal size and I lost the use of it."
Guardsman Boyd was flown back for treatment at the Royal College of Defence Medicine in Birmingham.
He was operated on, given a course of antibiotics and the infection cleared up in three weeks.
After the illness, Guardsman Boyd's tour of duty was supposed to be at an end.
But when he found out one of his friends had been blinded by a bomb blast in Iraq, he became determined to return to the front line.