Friday, August 21, 2009

Bee Allergy

Photos clockwise from top, left: Josh at Ozone, honey bee outside my house, my hand about halfway to the full size (~24 hours after sting), a cartoon of an epi-pen from

Last weekend Josh was passing through Oregon, heading up to Washington for his next NOLS course. We went to Ozone on Saturday, and while we were approaching the climbing area, a bee just decided to sting me. Maybe someone pissed it off, coming down the trail in front of us, but one second Josh and I were chatting, and another second, I was jumping up and down, swearing. The honey bee "left it's butt in me" as I've been telling folks, and it was a good thing Josh was there, because he directed me to "scrape" the butt out to avoid getting more of the poison in my hand. I was stung twice at Ozone when I went climbing with Ian and Graham earlier this summer. Maybe that was enough bee juice for my body this year. By the time Josh and I got home, my hand started getting big.

I took two rounds of Benadryl, made a pen mark when the swelling hit my wrist, called my insurance companies free nurse line when the swelling was a third of the way up my arm in the morning, went to see a doctor at the advice of the nurse line, took 60mg of prednisone and waited six hours, then called the nurseline again when I couldn't feel my hand anymore, and then headed for the ER when the nurse told me he wouldn't have waited that long if it were him, and I was starting to lose circulation in my hand, which was obvious from the cold fingers, and white hand. After several hours in the ER, and some humming and hawing over my ridiculously small veins that are almost impossible to get blood out of, let alone stick an IV into for such a small problem, the folks turned my arm into a real topographic map (watching for more swelling), and I waited. Then I got a cool lesson in histamine and the allergic response in the body, reminding me of those funny H2-receptors, blah blah blah - at that point I was really zoned out on Benadryl, but still really enjoying the geeky talk about why I would be taking Pepsid (an antacid) to help lessen the reaction.

Now I have to carry an epi-pen. That's the funny thing about the allergic response to an antigen like bee stings - the reaction can get worse after every exposure. This time it was my hand, and most of my arm all the way up to my elbow that swelled into a painful, red balloon. And next time, I'll have this handy dandy epi-pen around in case I get stung on my neck. Ew.

1 comment:

The Powell's said...

Ahh you swell like I do when I eat walnuts! Welcome to the fun Molly...carrying an epi-pen is so much fun!