Thursday, June 6, 2013

Battling A Fear Of Bees

Last year on our last camping trip, Art was stung by a wasp. It got him right in the left temple. He had hives within minutes and his face (nose, lips, more) began to swell. It was pure torture. We were half an hour away from the nearest hospital, but the trucker got us there in record time. 

One of the scariest moments of my life. 

Thankfully, it was near the end of bee season. I have never loved winter as much as I do now. He did not go in to full anaphylactic shock. Thank God. Now, we have a lot of debate hanging over our shoulders. Was it more the location of the sting that caused a more severe reaction? A single strain of wasp that he reacts to, or all of them? I wasn't right beside him when it happened, so I don't know exactly WHAT stung him. 

We now carry an Epi-Pen everywhere we go. I'm grateful for it, but I hate the thought of ever having to use it. 

This spring, we caught a wasp starting a nest in our garage. It's been removed and destroyed, but I know that the little sucker probably didn't move too far. 

A few days ago, the boys were doing dishes in the kitchen. I went in to check on them and saw a wasp bumping up against the window. It left me two options, try to get the sucker out of the house or kill it. The sucker whipped past me and down the stairs. I ran to the door, knowing that they will often fly for the light and I hoped he flew out. But I stepped on something sharp when I hit the step and was bent over fixing my foot instead of watching the door.

Paranoia extreme!!

Did it fly out? Is it hiding downstairs?  Ugh. Two nights, I tossed and turned. Full of nightmares of the stupid thing stinging my boy in his sleep. I'd never know until morning! What if... what if... what if.... 

I scoured the basement. We cleaned up, moved everything. I constantly was searching windows and corners every time I went down there, trying to find a wasp that might not even still be in the house.

Last night, I went down to make some Sleepytime tea for us. I brewed two cups in the Keurig. Took the Trucker's cup to the bedroom and went back to get mine to take upstairs. BZZZZZZZZ right past my ear!! I nearly crapped myself. Then the stupid thing was flying at the ceiling light, way out of my reach. When he did land, it was right up at the top of the wall, so I yelled to the Trucker to come SAVE MEEEEEE... haha

Turns out he's just as chicken as I am. 

But, he could reach higher. One good baseball swing stunned the bee and then he headed for a lower place on the wall. Swing two was a direct hit... or was it? We couldn't find a dead wasp on the floor!?!?!?! Furniture was moved, a bag was tossed, then said bag grabbed again and shook like mad to make sure it wasn't hiding inside. It wasn't.

We did finally find the creature. Gave it a couple extra smacks to MAKE SURE it was dead, followed by a ceremonial flush. I celebrated the idea of sleep without dreams!

Then I crawled in bed. And my mind started.... What if it wasn't the same one? What if the nest is in the wall and that's how it's got in? What if I just pissed off a whole colony that is going to come swarming through some invisible hole and KILL US ALL???

Okay, not quite THAT bad, but not far from it.

This is awful. It is physically painful for me. And I am very concerned that my excessively paranoid fear of bees is going to rub off on Art. He's my outdoors kid. He's the 'get down and dirty in the mud' kid. He's the 'go exploring randomly in the bush when camping' kid. Why him? Why my kid? Why THAT kid? He's been stung before, twice. Why didn't he react then? He was even hit by a bee (NOT wasp) a few days ago with no real reaction. 

"These Are The Wrong Kind Of Bees"
I have always been one to run screaming when a bee or wasp was hanging around too close and now I have to be the strong one to get up close and personal and get it away from my kids. I'm the one who stays back at the campsite when the family goes out quadding, because I'm too afraid of riding with them. I'm also the one who will have to use the Epi-Pen if the need ever arises. I have to be the strong one. And I am not very strong these days. And especially if I'm at the campsite, while the family is far away in the bush facing bugs of all kind.

This summer is gonna kill me.

I know I don't need to be so worried. These kids have had 4 stings combined in their lives. BUT all 4 were ART. I know that the location of the sting (distance from the heart) can affect the severity of a reaction, and it was likely more extreme being on his face. I know that certain places have certain pesticides and chemicals around that may make these suckers more aggressive. I know that, for the most part, you leave them alone and they will leave you alone. I know that there are many, many species of bees and wasps and that he is not necessarily allergic to all of them. Not like I'm going to inspect each stupid insect to see if I should worry or not. And at this point, without serious allergy testing, I don't know what type he might be allergic to anyway. Which also means, that if I had allergy testing (which isn't 100% perfectly accurate), I am still going to worry about all of them because I'm certainly not going to start counting stripes or something to decide if I should panic or not.

And sure, lots of people are allergic to lots of things. I often remind myself that it is better to be allergic to bees than peanuts. I can see or hear bees most of the time. Nuts can be completely invisible. But no matter what, I wish we had no allergies at all.

I have read that sometimes people can have one bad reaction and then never have another. I've also read that the likelyhood of a severe reaction increases 60-70 percent in someone who has had a previous severe reaction. I've likely read too much.  

The scary thing is, I haven't been back to that place yet. We are preparing to go at the beginning of summer and I'm a wreck. To stand in the place where I watched my childs face begin to swell? I'm not sure I'm gonna be okay with that. The early summer weekends aren't so bad, there are not nearly as many wasps around and they are mostly busy with bug-work. By the end of the summer, it all changes. They know they are all going to die and get aggressive trying to get sugars to keep themselves in energy. The Trucker has already mentioned his hope for a September trip out there this year. I finally told him yesterday that I don't think I can do it.

The worst part, is not knowing. I don't know if this was a fluke thing. I don't know if the next reaction could be the last. I don't know anything. And I can't protect him. I can't put him in a bubble. I can't be with him 24/7. I can't teach him fear of living. I can't .... I can't control this. There is absolutely no way I can control nature at all. And I HATE that.  How do I convince Art that he is fine to go outside and play after school, when the thought of it picks at my mind the entire time he's out there? I'm certainly not going to force him to stay inside just for my sake. What kind of life would he have?

I am aware that my worry is excessive. It usually works that way for me. I will think it through a thousand different ways and once I've reached the end of all possible outcomes, I will decide the best way to move forward. It is a hard process for me. Truly. But it is MINE. It is the way I find the most peace with anything in this life of mine.

As I said, it's going to be a painfully long summer for me. I will be realistic and get through it one day at a time. That's how we do everything anyway, isn't it?

For now, I'm taking whatever precautions I can to protect our yard from invaders. I'm paying more attention when we all go through the doors. I'm not opening that window that has a huge hole in the screen until I fix the screen. And I'm making sure that we have our Epi-Pen with us at all times.

I hope to have a memorable summer, and I can't wait for winter. How about you?

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