Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sting Thing 2014

Hello all,

I have awakened from my graduate school-induced catatonia to tell you all about the day I was almost killed by a yellow jacket. What started out as one sting on my ankle escalated to a visit to the emergency room and an IV of adrenaline. Let's start from the very beginning.

First off, this is a yellow jacket. They suck.

Pictured: Sucks
They really suck. They are aggressive wasps that are extremely common in North America. You've most likely seen them before, and may actually mistake them for the honeybee, which is golden-colored, furry, and actually a little cute.

I mean take a look at this guy

Honeybees make honey and are usually not aggressive if they're not close to their hive. Yellow jackets will attack at the slightest provocation and look more like demonic attack robots than an organic creature. And in fact, I believe I have only ever been stung by yellow jackets. The first time was at 9 years old at a day camp. Then there was when I was riding a bike and I swatted at a bug that flew into my collarbone. Then there was the time I was walking by a flower pot that was a solid three feet away, when a demented insect erupted from within its floral camouflage and deposited a healthy dose of pain into my left arm. I don't need to tell you the identity of that villainous arthropod.

Let's bring it back to the present, but then rewind 2 years. July 8, 2013. I'm biking back from work on a Monday afternoon to get home so I can catch the train going outside the city for a tennis match. In the middle of my ride, I see flash of yellow and black dart towards me, into my shorts on the side of my right leg. Instantly, a familiar burning pain. I yelled and start frantically shaking out my shorts. By some force from a benevolent creator, I was not stung again. I gritted through the pain and powered my way home to get my stuff for the match. After icing the wound, the pain became tolerable enough to walk normally and I grabbed my things and headed out. What greeted me was an insane rainstorm. Readers from Toronto will know how ridiculous this storm was. For the uninformed, see this picture of one of the major highways in Toronto, taken only about an hour after I left my apartment that evening.

This car's situation is defined as a "serious bummer"

The storm quite literally drowned the city of Toronto and held its neck underwater for a few hours for good measure. Despite this freak occurrence, I made it to my friend Hans' house, and we won our doubles match that evening with our trademark dynamic gameplay.

As the match wore on though, I noticed that my right leg was getting tight. It was subtle at first, but by the end of the match it was bad enough that I was limping. Upon finally sitting down at a bench, I pulled back my shorts to see that my entire right thigh was red and swollen. When it was time to go, I could not stand up on my own anymore. After being helped back to the car and back to Hans' home, I took some benadryl and went to sleep, hoping it would be gone in the morning.

Not so. I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and eventually was only able to walk with horrific limp. I called in sick to work that day and needed another full day of rest before the swelling reduced enough to walk and bike normally again.

Now, this is just the prologue.

Wait, stay with me! This where it all comes together and you don't wanna miss it.

Cut to June 30, 2014. Day before my birthday. I'm at my girlfriend Felicia's cousin's house that evening, playing soccer with his 7 year old son. Things get heated, I'm trying to let him have a few goals so he has fun while still asserting my athletic superiority, when we both ended up chasing the ball into a corner. A corner that turned out to be filled with yellow jackets. Displeased with our competitive intensity, one wasp catches me on the ankle. I feel it instantly and yell at my opponent to evacuate the corner immediately, which unfortunately for a few seconds he believed to be mind games on my part and continued attacking the ball. Luckily, I was able to convince him of my situation and get him to run away before he was stung. I got ice for the wound, the pain faded, within 10 minutes I was fine.

Then I got itchy. Really itchy. All over. I wasn't sure if I was just hot and sweaty or I was reacting to their dog. But it kept getting worse. When I realized I was seeing hives, and ran to the bathroom and saw that the midline of my face was flushed bright red in an inch wide stripe running from the top of my forehead, over my nose, to my upper lip. Over the next 20 minutes, my nose, lose half of my face, and right arm began to swell. Initially thinking it would pass, I refused a ride to the hospital. As I became increasingly worried about my throat, though, I was finally convinced to be taken to the ER. I took a picture of my face right before we left.

Form of... a deformed clown-man!
During the ride to the ER, I was constantly aware that at any moment my airway could suddenly close in on itself and the only thing all my friends and family would remember me for would be "that dude who died from being stung by a wasp wow really that's how he died? oh man that really sucks". After arriving at the ER and waiting for a couple young  soccer players ahead of me (why are , I was admitted into the ER, but not after being slightly admonished for not coming directly to the desk because I was having an allergic reaction. As midnight struck and I turned 23, I was lying in a bed with an adrenaline IV nestled in my left arm. The swelling went down, I was prescribed an epipen, and by the time I went to bed that evening, I was back to normal, except now with a specially enhanced paranoia toward aerial insects. I guess that's not very climactic, but it was an adventure I felt was worth sharing. The next time I get stung by a bee or wasp, I'll take comfort in knowing all I have to do is jam a needle into my quadriceps.

Allergies suck. And so do yellow jackets.

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