It was July 11, 2016, a typical hot and sunny day in the northeastern United States. As I waited on the train platform ready for the beginning of another work week, I felt something fly on me and was crawling above the collar of my dress. I had thought it was a bee, but couldn’t be sure since I had barely seen it. Before I could swat it away, it disappeared. I attempted to make sure that the insect was no longer on me and when I got on the train, I had thought that maybe it had fallen and had flown away.
When I arrived at my stop, I got up out of my seat and felt a very painful sting on my back. The sting felt like that of a bee. The last time I was stung by a bee was when I was a child, so didn’t think anything of it, other than buying some over the counter remedy from the pharmacy to treat any after effects.
I hopped on the bus enroute to my office when my head began to itch profusely. I couldn’t stop scratching it. I felt my face becoming warm and red. I thought, “Ok, once I get to the office, I will go to the restroom and wash my face.” I did retreat to the restroom only to see that my face was redder than a tomato.
I returned to my desk, took my glasses off and put my head down. I was starting to break out in hives on my arms. One of my colleagues began to talk to me and noticed I didn’t quite seem or look myself. He asked if I was ok and I informed him that I think I was stung by a bee, but never felt like this before (the last time I had an encounter with a bee was when I was about 10 years old).
My colleague did get help for me. But the time a security guard and a physician with whom I work with arrived at my desk, I was also beginning to have difficulty breathing and I felt my throat starting to close. The ambulance was called. My physician colleague sat with me until the ambulance arrived. He was telling me about the Billy Joel concert that he and his wife had just gone to see to help take my mind off of the situation at hand. I felt a little out of sorts and all I could say is,” How old is Billy Joel anyway?”
The ambulance finally arrived and I was put on oxygen. When I arrived at the emergency room, I was immediately taken in and was there for six hours, being pumped with epinephrine and other fluids to stabilize me.
I immediately had to get a prescription filled for the EpiPen, an auto-injector which I have to use if I should ever get stung again. With venom testing after the fact, I discovered that I am not only allergic to one type of bee sting, but all four of them.
I never thought that at this stage of my life, I would have to fear the presence of one of nature’s creatures which benefits the overall environment. Every time I see a member of the bee family, I cringe in fear, sometimes I feel as though I am about to hyperventilate and have my EpiPen handy in case I should need it. I must be extra vigilant in the spring, summer and fall when bees are more prevalent. I enjoy the warmer, sunny weather, so it is quite a challenge for me since I am an active person.
This experience was an eye-opening one for me. I have made adjustments to my life (all good) and learned the following lessons from this life-threatening experience:
· Smile more often, smile for no reason and even smile at people who you may not even know;
· Work is just that. It is a job and don’t take it home with you. A strong work/life balance is key to a happy and successful life;
· Life is a journey and things happen when they do for a reason. Don’t question the reason; just continue to live your life to your fullest potential;
· Seize opportunities when you can; you never know where those opportunities might lead;
· Be kind to others even those who may not be kind toward you;
· Cherish every day and appreciate every waking moment;
· Live for the now, not the what if.