One morning in February, singer Meghan Linsey woke up to a stinging sensation on her face. Still half asleep, she looked over and quickly realized there was a large, dying spider in her hand.
She’d been bitten by a brown recluse, a venomous spider found mostly in the south central and midwestern United States.
“The swelling was the first thing, and then I ended up just having crazy, crazy symptoms,” Linsey tells PEOPLE. “I had muscle spasms, then I had a body rash all over. They tell people to not look up things on WebMD, and I had looked up everything on WebMD and I had every symptom. Every day was another thing.”
Linsey – a 2015 runner up on The Voice and one-half of former duo Steel Magnolia – says she immediately went to urgent care after she was bit, but despite antibiotics and saline, her eye nearly swelled shut. The other symptoms soon followed.
(Warning — photos of the wound below may be disturbing to some readers.)
I know I've been MIA on social media for a while, so I wanted to fill you all in on what's going on. These pics are hard to share, but I think it's important for me to be open with you guys. Everything isn't perfect all of the time. We all go through hard stuff. So, 9 days ago, on February 12, I woke up to a stinging sensation on my face. I looked and in my right hand was a dead spider. Somehow while I was sleeping, a spider had bit me and I had killed it. This scenario is literally on the top of my nightmare list. The stinging was awful and I knew it had to be poisonous. I put the spider in a bag and headed to urgent care. Over the course of the last 9 days, I have experienced the most insane symptoms. From excruciating nerve pain in my face, muscle spasms, full body rash, extreme swelling… etc. It has really been rough. It has been confirmed that I was bit by a brown recluse spider, one of two of the most poisonous spiders in the US. I am still dealing with the wound on my face, but I finally found the right meds to control the nerve pain. I know I'm not out of the woods on this yet, but I am so incredibly grateful for my health and I will never take it for granted again. Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. I will be getting back in the studio this week, to work on the new record! I can't wait to finish it. And I can't wait to get back on the road on March 9 & 10- I will be playing in Alaska! And PLEASE, if you live in area where these spiders are, do some research and learn how to protect yourself! I know this is not common at all, but better safe than sorry! Love you all! Xo Meg
I cannot believe the outpouring of love and support I have received from all of you. I'm finally feeling somewhat normal again. It has been 11 days since I was bit by a brown recluse spider. I saw the Toxicologist at Vanderbilt yesterday and she said she thinks my wound is going to heal just fine on it's own. She doesn't think I will need surgery, which is a huge relief! I am so grateful for all of your prayers, well wishes and positive energy. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. ❤️
“I was supposed to be getting better, but I was getting worse – up until day nine, which is when the symptoms stopped happening and the necrosis started on my face,” she explains.
The area surrounding the site of Linsey’s bite began to rot as her skin cells died, leaving what she calls “a hole on my face.”
After consulting with a wound specialist in South Carolina, things began to improve, Linsey says. She underwent experimental hyperbaric chamber treatment, and after three sessions saw immediate results.
She also attributes her quickened recovery to a recent 30-pound weight loss, explaining, “I was very healthy when I was bit.”
Sorry if this grosses anyone out, but a lot of people have asked to see updated pictures of my healing, so this is where we're at. I definitely think the hyperbaric chamber treatments sped up the healing process dramatically. It's been 3 weeks since my bite. Just waiting for the last little bit of black (dead tissue) to slough off so that new skin can grow and the wound can heal. Thank you again for the prayers, words of encouragement, and love! Love you guys! Xo Meg
Still, Linsey was concerned about the obvious gash on her face as she prepared to get back on the road to tour. A fan — who is also a pharmaceutical rep — reached out through social media to recommended Stratamed, a gel dressing that treats wounds and can be used under makeup.
“That helped me a lot, just being able to get back out on the road and do shows again,” she tells PEOPLE.
Linsey, 31, says it remains to be seen whether she’ll be stuck with a scar forever, and admits she’s still getting used to her intensified makeup routine.
“I’m one of those people that just throws it on and goes, but now I have to put three or more layers on this one area of my face,” she explains. “It’s kind of a pain at this point but, after going through everything I went through, I’m just glad to be alive.”
As for the support she’s received since revealing the scary health situation, Linsey says, “everyone’s been awesome.”
“I think that people appreciate it when you’re real. I’m like, ‘What am I going to do? Be hiding this thing that I’m going through?'” she adds. “And honestly, it’s nice to raise awareness. It’s not talked about a lot and I have a way to get the word out.”
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Currently, Linsey is focused on finishing up her next record, which she tells PEOPLE is a little more pop than country.
She also teases a cool collaboration with one of the mentors who appeared during her season of The Voice: “I’m really excited about it.”