Bee sting

Last fall during hunting camp the yellow jackets were so thick that I had to eat inside of one of the pickup cabs to minimize the risk of being stung. Our non-bee-allergic friend camping with us had accidentally gotten stung so we weren’t taking chances. I’m one of those who carries an Epi-Pen, has a stash of Benadryl around, and keeps an eye out for possible nests, especially in warm, dry fall weather. A sting for me means getting loaded into a car and heading for the nearest ER, Epi-Pen handy. I’m aware and alert, but I don’t let it stop me from going outside too much. Usually eating inside a vehicle in this season is enough for me to be safe, as long as I’m cautious about what I’m doing and clean any grouse I shoot quickly, away from water sources and other places where the bees/wasps/ yellow jackets hang thick.

So last Friday at CampCon, a camp and writing retreat up near Hood River, I wasn’t really thinking about bee stings. Unlike the previous year, this camp was cold and wet. Not bee sting weather. We set up our tent between rain showers and I huddled in the writing area under a pop-up canopy, working hard to finish Birth of Sorrows, the Goddess’s Honor short story I plan to release this September. I’m getting around to writing Alicira’s story, and yes, it is a challenge. I was focused hard on my words when I felt something crawling up my right leg. Bee was not my thought. Spider, possibly tick. I shook my leg and it stopped. I got back to writing, contemplating the finish of the story. The crawly sensation started up again. I decided to get up, shake it out more aggressively, and get those last two sentences down before calling it a night and drinking some absinthe cocoa. I was right on track for what I planned to do during the retreat.

Except. As I stood, I got stung. I knew what it was, of course. Pinpoint needle-sharp hammer slugging the back of my knee. “Shit, shit, shit, I’ve been stung!”

The husband came running while I ran through scenarios in my head. Yes, bees were out despite the cold, but could it have been something else? No, not from the sickish way I was already starting to feel. I hit the Epi-Pen, only to feel crawling again. Great. I dropped trou and this time shook the damn thing out. A small yellow jacket, about an inch long. Got into the car, and hubby raced me to the ER, whereupon I got lectured for maybe hitting the Epi-Pen too quickly and not eating Benadryl instead. Okay fine, different from what I was told before, but whatever. The ER doc wanted to give me Prednisone. That became a discussion point.

Pred and I have a dubious acquaintance. Besides bee sting treatment, a short burst of Prednisone is called for when asthmatics like me get into a nasty round of airway problems due to infections. For any long-term treatment Prednisone is recommended to be tapered down, not abruptly stopped, because of the way it interacts with the adrenal glands and cortisol production. However, a “burst,” or short-term, low-dose treatment, usually does not involve a taper because it doesn’t trigger the same reaction. Usually.


Years ago, I got put on a Prednisone “burst,” with no taper, for the first time because a nasty bug left my airways reactive. Breathing is good, so I took the Pred. When I came off of it I had serious shakes, blood sugar problems, fatigue, all the lovely side effects you get from dropping Pred fast. Since then, I’ve tapered off of even a “burst.” Now this ER doc wasn’t thrilled about that notion, so she gave me another cortisone that supposedly would linger in my system without the effects and I wouldn’t need any more doses than what I took there. Supposedly.

Yeah, the modifiers are in there for a reason. Sometimes you need the adverbs.

Yesterday the steroid crash hit. We’ve been hauling Mocha to the house for Town Training time while the husband paints the house. I was feeling rocky in the morning so didn’t want to bring her in early. She’s fat and sassy on grass, and still gets pretty excited by town sensory overload. By the time we set to bring her in, I knew what was going on. Fatigue, chills, and shakes. Unhappy stomach. Blood sugar yucks. The sting site blotchy and itchy. Steroid crash. Ugh. No horse coming to town this day. I nibbled on peanut butter, grabbed some books, and read/napped the rest of the day, riding through it.

I’m better today, of course. But grumpy from Benadryl last night and a little fuzzy.

Dang bee sting allergy. And dang cortisteroid sensitivities.

Plus I still feel psychic crawlies on that leg.

Of course I would be one of the few people to get stung in this season, while writing, from a bee crawling up my leg on a cold and wet day.

I did finish the story, though. In the ER that night I remembered that I hadn’t saved it, and worried about losing the 2000+ words from that afternoon. Fortunately the interaction between my Mac and Word was such that just closing the lid down kept the story up. The husband got me the laptop and I saved the story. We went back out to camp the next morning and I finished the story, plus outlined a new one, so I’m not too far behind in writing. Yesterday I got Beyond Honor formatted for both ebook and paperback production, so we’re on target for the July 1 release date. The town horse days are doing more to mess with my schedule than anything else. Still, it’s crazy-making to have something as small as this interfere with plans.

Ah well. Just another day in the life of a writer from the wide open spaces.

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