Last May I wrote an entry entitled Fright of the Bumblebee. In it I proclaimed, and perhaps bragged, that a bee had never stung me. This life-long streak came to an end yesterday.
I was in Phoenix for Round One for the USCA Mopar .25 series and was having an amazing time atop the flag stand. The track was fast and the racing was close, and sometimes too close, but it felt good to be back with a flag in my hand.
There could be so many things I could write about for this weekend. Saturday night I ate out with a group of people and actually talked. Although I did talk about autism, perhaps I just continued my "Alias", at this same meal I tried real Mexican food for the first time. It was a weekend of firsts, but the first I will remember for a long time to come came from a really small being.
After the final race on Sunday I was helping take stuff down and I needed to move a box from the score tower to a trailer. It was a sizable box so I reached around the box to grab it and I did so I turned towards the door.
At first I thought I just scraped my wrist on the cardboard too hard as I picked it up; much like a rug burn. Thinking nothing of this I continued on my way.
As I got outside the pain became immense and I looked down and there it was. A bee, that I late found out fit the description of one of those vile Africanized honey bees, AKA Killer bee, doing a number on my right wrist.
My first reaction was that I was being stung. It didn't make since that the rear of this creature was under my skin. I quickly panicked and shouted some words that were more disconnected syllables than actual words. The woman that was walking next to me saw my problem and quickly flicked the nasty thing off of me. To make my visual problems worse, on top of the pain, the bee split in two leaving the stinger and gland sticking out of my skin. By this time it felt as if my arm was on fire.
At first it was a sharp, but manageable pain, but with each second my arm felt heavier and heavier and the pain kept getting worse and more intense. I’ve had my fair share of injuries in my life, but this was quickly turning into a pain that was so unique and so intense that I know without a doubt I never want this to happen again.
I don't know how I got directed to this hauler, but I ended up in the office portion of a semi-truck of one of the families who races in this series. The pain was great, but there was a new problem; I was beginning to have trouble swallowing.
Remember how I bragged about never being stung? That was the question everyone was asking me, "Aaron, are you allergic?" How would I know? I’ve never been stung. I was getting to the point that I could not swallow normally. Drinking water was almost out of the question.
Because of this, someone called 911 and paramedics were dispatched. Now picture this; I just got done flagging two days of racing and we had several serious looking incidents, but all drivers were fine and here I am, doing a routine task after the races, and I get stung and people are concerned enough to place the call to 911. Was my pride hurt? Maybe, but I was concerned too as this was a feeling that I never have felt.
With each breath I feared that breathing would become like swallowing. The minutes went by and it kept getting worse and worse. Talking was now labored and while I was not afraid or panicking I was becoming deeply concerned.
I did forget to mention that very soon after I entered the race hauler I was given some Benedryl and by the time the paramedics arrived I was slowly regaining normal levels of speech and swallowing. They took my vitals and my blood pressure was higher than normal for me. They didn't know this and I didn't tell them because I didn't remember exactly what normal is, but they said they could give me something, but if they did I'd have to go to the hospital. That didn't sound fun at all so I signed the waiver releasing the paramedics of any and all responsibilities and they left.
As time went on, the only reminder that I was stung was the stiffness in my right arm. It still hurts now but it is more of an annoyance pain than a pain that hurts badly.
What have I learned from this? I always thought my fear of being stung was too strong, or perhaps irrational, but for once in my life the reality of being stung by a bee was far worse than what I thought it would be like.