Sep 2, 2008

Old fears revisited

Back in the summer of 1994 I had 2 major incidents that sent me running to the hospital, one of which was nearly fatal. The first one in April of that year left me with a scar on my right wrist. I had actually slid in my stocking feet (not intentionally) and my right hand went through our storm door window, which left me with a severed artery and a severed ulner tendon.

Now before you assume that was the one that almost killed me think again, it wasn't. In August of that year I had finally rehabilitated my wrist and was coaching Methuen youth tea-ball back in my old community. I had promised to do so because my daughter wanted to play ball that year and on occasion we would go out in our front yard to practice.

One hot New England afternoon we were playing ball in the front yard and I had hit the ball pretty hard, Jess had run into the woods to get it. I remember hearing her ungodly screams as she ran towards me and I caught a glimpse or a swarm of bees attacking her. I did my best to clear her off, get her in the house under a cool shower and while Diane tended to her I called the emergency room so they could tell me what to do. The official count of stings she would have received was in the area of 21/23 stings.

After hanging up the phone of being apprised of the symptoms to watch out for I myself started feeling funny. In the course of trying to protect my daughter I had gotten stung once on my arm and never having been allergic to bees I had no fear of it. That was before I had ever experience anaphylactic shock.

By the time I was within a mile of the hospital (Diane drove us through rush hour) I had already gone blind, my breathing was very shallow and I remembered uttering the words to Diane "Sorry hon, I'm not going to make it"

As Diane pulled up to the front of the hospital she yelled at me "we're here go ahead" and I remember telling her I couldn't because I was blind. She raced into the E.R to find help. I don't remember much more other than waking up as I faded pretty quickly and I never even recollect being pulled from the truck.

When I awoke I was told it had been pretty severe, they had to double dose me to get me back and that I'd be fine. I've lived with that burned in memory to this day and to be honest, I'd rather fall through the window again than to suffer that shock. What I can tell you is for my experience, death is a very calming feeling. There is no panic, there is nothing more than a fading feeling and memories of the people you love.

Yesterday Diane and I decided to take a run about 20 miles north to a Harley dealer we frequent. How would I have known they would be closed ("Ya could've called" <- old verizon commercial)

On the way back Diane was diagonal to me about 30 feet in front to the right side of the lane when I felt something hit me in the throat and slide into my shirt. It was followed by some of the most intense pain I have felt in a long time, it was stabbing me just above my right breast just towards the thorax.(ie center of the chest) . I immediately grabbed my shirt hoping to grasp whatever was causing me the pain. And proceeded to drive by Diane and turn into a church parking lot. Unfortunately for her it was too quick of a turn and she had to go straight.

When I got off the bike and shook my shirt you can imagine the thought when the yellow jacket fell out and onto the ground. It followed by me stomping on it feeling like I may had just fallen victim again and I had no epi-pens with me in case of symptoms.

The next glimpse Diane saw as she pulled out of a side street was my bike flying by her on my way back to our house. At that point I was looking at about a 4-mile ride. She did the best that she could to follow in toe and catch up. When I hit the red light around the corner she pulled up asking what was wrong assuming I was upset about something. Apparently she hadn't noticed me slumped over the tank of the bike in pain during the ride.

I'm happy to say as dramatic as it sounds and as it was, I am ok. I did not have any symptoms of shock that I previously had. This doesn't meant he sting didn't totally affect me, I'm quite sore across the right side of my chest, itchy and I have a slight headache but alas, I am alive!

I told Dee gleefully last night that I'm not ready to check out quite yet, I still have a lot of life to live. What a far cry from a few years ago when I wouldn't carry a pen because I welcomed the outcome. Now I just forget it out of stupidity!

How much things change but yet they stay the same!

Hope your Labor Day was a nice one!



Sara said...

Jeebus, Karyn; don't scare us like that! Start your post with, "I'm okay but here's an amusing story" or "Phwew, that was close", or something! I'm so happy you are okay, but dammit you deserve a sore spot for not carrying an epipen with you, *always*. That is what purses are for! And check the expiry often. Okay, I think that's out of my system now...Oh, and Thank You for not dying. Sheesh. You are such a wonderful, caring, beautiful woman with so many people that care about you; please, intrinsically value that and you, in every aspect of your every day!

(By the way, *really* well written...and I am really glad you are only alergic to actual bees. Harumph.)


~K~ said...

I guess I didn't think it was amusing at the time. LOL, I was actually mad at the stupid yellow jacket!

I know I should carry that stupid pen with me but the package says that it needs to be kept below a certain temprature, not totallu ideal in the leather bag on a bike.

I will say, I see a lot more value in life these days, I certainly care more so I plan on taking your words to heart and I thank you for caring as you do.

Karyn ..

PS I'm not only allergic to bees, testosterone seems to give me a crappy outlook and make me feel bad as well! :oP

Sara said...

I used to have a coworker that rode quads with her husband and one of them was also bee-alergic. Google, "FRIO Insulin Travel Wallet Individual Pen". $25 for the wallet, you dunk it in water & it uses evap cooling but does not feel damp nor get stuff wet due to the layered materials & permiability. Perfect for rides. Bummer the pens can't actually be refrigerated...

Véronique said...

I'm very glad you survived the bee sting. I don't know anything about EpiPens, but I have a feeling that unrefrigerated epinephrine is better than none at all.

A yellowjacket is a wasp. Thankfully you're not allergic to those! Among the nastiness of wasps is that they don't lose their stinger when they zap you, so they can keep doing it. And yellowjackets seem to be kinda bad tempered to start with.

Stay safe!

~K~ said...


Thanks for that info, I'm going to have to look into that.


An Epipen is basically a spring loaded pen with a dose of epinephrine preloaded. It is designed to raise the bodies adrenaline levels buying time for an allergy victim to seek medical care.

They actually dose you with the same thing in the hospital as it helps get your heart pumping. When I got rushed into the E.R in 94 I was told that it was severe enough that they had to double dose me to get me out of it.

Thanks to all of you for your well wishes, it was very nice to read. For the record I am a little better today. I'm still a bit itchy and I've had a slight headache since the sting but it seems to be subsiding now. I would have to believe that I still have a sensitivity to the sting but my body has built up enough of a resistance for it to not be fatal. I can at least wish.

Véronique said...

Oh, I know what an EpiPen is. I just didn't know about the care and feeding. :)

I think most people if not everyone have that kind of sensitivity to yellowjacket stings. My dad once ran over a nest (they nest in the ground) with a lawn mower. The critters were not happy, and he got stung several times. He got chills and felt bad for quite a while. It's venom, and it's poison!

Glad you are feeling better! Nasty place to get stung.

Sara said...

I can't believe no one has mentioned it yet: Great picture of Dee!!!!

~K~ said...

Thanks Sara,

That was a tough picture to get and it is actually cropped from an off center picture. That picture was taken about 2 miles before I got the sting.

SamanthaQ said...

Eddie Izzard is fond of saying:

"I like my women, like I like my coffee, covered in bees."

Then again he's not really all that well to start with. 'E's a rip your pants funny bloke who's a little sick. I mean he likes things covered in bees? 'Nough said there... Well no, I do have to say he's a very good looking boy, even when wearing a frock...

Anyway, yes, please do get whatever you need to keep an epipen nearby, I'd hate to have to declare war on bees and wasps... Especially since I'm already at war with Arachnids (hate them!!!) found this big ugly one between the window and the screen this morning, how he got in, I don't know, but he left in a paper towel, soaked in poison and d-e-d DEAD!!!

We happen to have grown quite fond of you, so keepin' you around would be a good thing. My brother Mark is deathly allergic to them as well, so I know the feeling.

As to it being a nasty place to get stung, well are there any GOOD places to get stung? Not as far as I'm concerned!

Glad you're doing better! And hey, be careful out there!