Steel Magnolia singer Meghan Linsey woke up one morning in February to a stinging sensation on her face, only to discover a huge spider was dying in her hand.
It turned out she had been bitten by a brown recluse, a venomous spider found mostly in the south-central and the midwestern United States.
“The swelling was the first thing, and then I ended up just having crazy, crazy symptoms,” Linsey told 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.”
The Louisianian, who was a runner-up on The Voice in 2015, immediately went to urgent care after she was bit, but despite antibiotics and saline, her eye nearly swelled shut. The other symptoms followed soon afterwards.
“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,” the 31-year-old says.
The skin on Linsey’s left cheekbone started to rot as skin cells around the affected area began to die off, leaving what she calls “a hole on my face.”
(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. ❤️
Things slowly began improving after Linsey consulted a wound specialist in South Carolina. She underwent experimental hyperbaric chamber treatment and saw immediate results after only three sessions.
She also attributes her speedy 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
As she was getting ready to get back on the road and tour, the Keep On Lovin’ You singer was concerned about the obvious gash on her face which remained after the treatment. 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 told PEOPLE.
Linsey says it remains to be seen whether she is stuck with a scar forever and admits she is 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 admits. “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 that came her way after the ordeal she went through, 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?’ 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,” she says.
Currently, Linsey is working on wrapping up her next record. She has told PEOPLE the album will have a more pop-oriented sound compared to its country predecessors. She also hinted at a collaboration with one of the mentors who appeared during her season of The Voice: “I’m really excited about it.”