I hope you heeded my advice in last week’s column about taking precautions for stinging insects, because I didn’t. And boy, did I pay.
Even the most informed can let their guard down. I was on my way to prune a few days after writing my column, got distracted by a few weeds, and before I knew it, I was suddenly being buzzed and then quickly stung — behind the knee — by a yellow jacket. Right on the soft, “tissue-y” part. Two mistakes were made on my part, not checking around the area for nests, and not wearing protective clothing. (I was wearing shorts.)
No matter how many times you get stung, each time feels like the first, doesn’t it? I took off while several chased me. I got in the house and my instincts kicked in.
Since I have had a few bad reactions to bumble bee stings, I got my Epi-Pen, just in case. Then I put some hydrocortisone cream on the spot, got an ice pack, and sat with it under my knee. After it was nice and numb, I took an antihistamine. I also alerted a family member, who called to check on me later. It continued to sting, ache and swell all day, so I continued icing it regularly. It stayed swollen for days.
I should’ve taken my own advice, so I wanted to admit that I blew it. I had time to do some internet research as I sat there with my ice pack.
There are many different ways people react to insect stings. They range from no reaction at all, to local redness, itching and swelling, to a larger area of redness and swelling with pain. Then there are severe reactions where there may be numbness, tingling, difficulty breathing, wheezing, rapid pulse, elevated blood pressure, hives, and swelling of face, mouth or throat. These last several symptoms require emergency treatment and can be life-threatening.
Luckily, my reaction stayed fairly localized and no other treatment was needed. I was very humbled and it seemed so ironic that it all happened within two days of my writing about precautions to take for this very thing.
I went out later to prune the original project, and this time, I followed my own advice. I used a long-handled rake and poked around in the shrub. Sure enough, out flew two bumblebees — my archenemies. I took off so fast, my feet and the rest of my body weren’t going the same speed, so I fell. It was a soft landing in the grass, and I’ll take that over another sting any day.
I hope that each of you will educate yourselves on the different first aid methods used for insect stings, and never take the stings for granted. Research shows a person can get stung many, many times with no reaction but the very next time, have an allergic reaction.
I have learned my lesson, and will slow down, think and follow the precautions necessary to avoid the pain associated with nesting, stinging insects.