July 25, 2015

Got an early start to my day – music on the playlist and a nice 6 a.m. summer breeze to keep me company while I pruned overgrown vines spilling over the backyard wall of my parents’ winter home. I climbed two steps on my little ladder and snipped twice before realizing, through the low rumble of insect buzzes and multiple painful stings, that I had some other unwelcomed company. Little did I know I’d encroached on a hidden nest that sat directly below the very spot I started trimming. I screamed bloody murder, swore like a sailor (still hoping the neighbors aren’t judging me) and danced a crazy jig in the yard trying to wrap my head around the searing hot pain shooting down my left forearm, up the back of my right arm and on the top of my right shoulder. I darted in the house and peeled off my shirt to assess the damage. Five stings, all swelling like red-hot rocks and sending deep jolts of pain into surrounding areas. I’d been stung by bees (quite recently) and as miserable as those were, these were far worse. I suspected wasps or hornets, but all I really cared about that moment was how I needed to get home soon. Stupidly, my EpiPen wasn’t with me and I was at least 12 minutes of freeway driving from home. I stayed as calm as possible, not wanting to awaken those pesky histamines, and was relieved when I pulled into our driveway without having to make a trip to the hospital.

Two of the five stings stayed relatively small, but the other three blew up like a misshapen balloon. In keeping with my past experiences with stings, the swelling and discomfort increased for the next several days (and the swelling didn’t go away entirely for more than 10 days). A beekeeper confirmed that I’d been stung by yellow jackets. I watched from the safety of my parents’ family room as he yanked back the cat’s claw vine and dozens of those seriously angry little suckers charged out of the hive and dive-bombed him with furious vengeance. He reminded me how lucky I was to have only been stung five times. Small blessings, I suppose. But I won’t be doing any more yard work without my Epi-pen (and my new $9 beekeeper getup I scored from Ebay).