I'm allergic to bees. It's a constant fear of mine and I waited with trepidation while three of my four children were stung with no ill effect other than the usual sting and slight swelling. Elijah, my youngest is allergic to penicillin, like me, and has never been stung by a bee...I cringe every time I see one around him.
They say allergies aren't hereditary but my Pappy is allergic to pencillin and bees, Elijah's paternal grandfather is as well and so am I. Regardless of what the self sure medical professionals say I would say that there is probably a good chance Elijah is too.
My two reactions to bee stings have wound me up in the hospital and have been harrowing and horrible. Despite this I'm quite cavalier about the whole issue. My mind always tells me that I've already been stung twice, what are the chances it would happen again?
This past weekend I was working at a local state park at a farm market and it was a beautiful day. Sunny and warm and yes, the area was teeming with bees. But for some reason especially bumblebees. I had made some comments about being allergic to the woman who was working at the market with me and how I never remember to bring my epi-pen with me ever like the hapless forgetful fool that I am.
Just as we were joking about how we were sure someone there would be better prepared than me and have an epi-pen I swatted bumblebee from my general area and sat down in a chair...directly onto another bumblebee. I felt the buzzing under my left thigh and then the painful sting. I sat up immediately with shock, rubbing at the back of my leg and the alarm spread over me.
"Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!" I looked with panicked eyes at my co-worker and she looked pale. I started pacing and inwardly taking stock of how my throat felt, how I was breathing. The pain spreading through my leg was pretty bad and I knew that couldn't be a good sign. Practically shaking my co-worker quietly yelled out, "Does anyone have an epi-pen! Benadryl? First aid kit?!" her voice wavering.
I was surprised when my throat still hadn't closed up but I did feel the familiar swelling on each side of my neck and a tickling in my throat.
A woman at a table a little bit from us noticed our frenzy and came over to us. She announced herself as a nurse and asked if she could help. I told her I was stung by a bumblebee and she calmly said, "Are you allergic to bumblebees?" I told her that I hadn't been stung by a bumblebee before but had been stung twice by honey bees with an anaphylactic reaction. She looked relieved and told me that the two aren't definitely interchangeable, that someone could be allergic to honey bees and not bumblebees and vice-versa. I paced for a little bit longer and the horrible squeezing in my throat never came.
The back inside of my left thigh was burning and angry though. I went into the bathroom and stared in shock at the softball sized thick welt forming around the sting. I was shocked at how hot it felt rubbing against my other thigh. Needless to say I was afraid the stinger was somehow still in my leg and wet paper towels to swab at the welt.
After three days of applying hydrocortisone and calamine lotion the swelling finally went away but left a large, raised oval on my skin that a week later still stings.
I filled all of my epi-pen refills at my dad's pharmacy the next day after being stung. I stowed some away in my change purse, my glove compartment, Jeremiah's glove compartment and replaced the ancient ones at my parents' house.
I won't be so cavalier about my allergies anymore. I also will always look before I sit down forever...or until my mind starts telling me I'm invincible again.