Jeff Hanneman’s Widow Details Guitarist’s Spider Bite Incident + Recovery Process
Late Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman died from alcohol related cirrhosis of the liver, but he had suffered a separate traumatic experience just two years prior. As has been widely documented, the guitarist was bitten by an insect carrying a flesh-eating disease called necrotizing fasciitis. The bite left doctors rushing to save Hanneman’s life and lots of physical therapy followed as the guitarist hoped to return to the stage. Hanneman’s widow, Kathryn, goes into detail about the incident and her husband’s struggles with recovery in Guitar World‘s upcoming August 2013 issue.
She recalls, “Jeff had been visiting a friend in the L.A. area. He was in the Jacuzzi one night relaxing and he had his arm over the side and he felt something like a bite or a prick. But, of course, he didn’t think anything of it. He came home about a week later, and he was pretty well lit when he came through the door. He wasn’t feeling well and he just wanted to go upstairs and go to sleep.”
Luckily, before he did, he showed his wife his arm and she noticed the redness and swelling. She said she tried to rationalize with him that he needed to get it checked, but he just wanted to sleep, so the next morning she was finally able to convince him to get to the doctor.
Kathryn says, “Jeff told me to go home because we both knew he’d be there for hours and neither of us thought it would be a life-or-death situation. About three of four hours later, Jeff called me and said, ‘Kath, it’s not good. They may have to amputate. I think you need to come back here.’”
After four days in the ICU, Hanneman finally began breathing on his own again and the road to recovery began. But despite his life being saved, there was still a mental battle to be faced as depression set in. “I couldn’t get Jeff to go to rehab or therapy,” she continues. “I think he was letting the visual of his arm get to his emotions and it was messing with his mind. It was hard to keep him upbeat at that point.”
Hanneman concludes, “I think he thought he could do this on his own — that he would go to rehearsal and play, and that would be his rehab. But I think he started to learn, once he tried rehearsing, that he wasn’t playing up to his ability and that he wasn’t able to play guitar at the speed he was used to. And I think that really hit him hard and he started to lose hope.”
To read Kathryn Hanneman’s entire interview, pick up the August 2013 issue of Guitar World magazine.