Bee sting. Uh oh. ER.

I’m lying on  gurney shivering under three blankets in the small but efficient Mayberry-like ER? How did normally healthy, robust Huffygirl wind up here? Well, fast-backward about 30 hours to the second day of my vacation. ______________________________________________

It’s a beautiful sunny, Sunday afternoon. I’m walking on the beach with best husband and without any warning or provocation, I get a bee sting on my little toe. I’m pretty sure I’m not allergic, so, no big deal. I soak my foot in the lake for a few minutes to take the edge off the pain and try to walk if off. My toe continued to ache the rest of the night and the next day, but hey, it’s a bee sting – it’s supposed to hurt, right? 

The next morning I got up early for a bike ride. but was feeling a little achy and stiff. Am I getting to old for this? I didn’t even think about the bee sting, which still aches. Best husband and I started out and got the hills over with in the first part of the ride. Finally with 10 flat miles in the home stretch I think  “This should be a cinch. ” But it wasn’t – it was feeling harder than it should for a flat ride. And I’m starting  to ache and ache and ache some more. “I really AM getting to old for this,” I rationalize as I finished the ride. By the time I get the bike gear put away and get into the shower, I’m shaking with chills, aching like the worst case of flu anyone could ever have, and just plain worn out. And it continued – all day. I knew what the problem was  but didn’t want to admit it. Despite the fact that my toe did not look too bad, I knew I was developing cellulitis, an infection of the skin and surrounding soft tissues, from bacteria introduced from the bee sting. The stinger acts just like a needle, bringing infection quickly into even a robust, healthy person like me. You might as well just inject yourself with a syringe-full of germs and save yourself the trouble of going through the sting.

But hey, I’m on vacation. Maybe it’s not cellulitis – maybe just a virus. So, I waited. I dragged myself through the day trying to do family vacation stuff. But I felt worse and worse. By the time we had an afternoon tea party with first granddaughter, I was too tired and aching to even crawl down onto the floor to join her. A long nap while swathed in blankets failed to revive me. Finally, by 9 PM I succumbed and went with best husband to the small town emergency room.

Despite the Mayberry-like atmosphere, the ER staff was professional and efficient. “Hmmm,” the ER doctor said, after greeting me with “How do you do?” a salutation I confess with which I’ve never been addressed by anyone, anywhere. “Fever and chills less than 24 hours after a bee sting? We’d better do…blood cultures!” This sounds serious. By now I’m wishing I hadn’t waited ALL DAY to get here, something that surely would have sparked a lecture from me to any of my own patients who had done such a foolish thing.

Meanwhile, three warm blankets and my husband’s sweatshirt (Michigan of course) are still not keeping away the chills. Best husband settled down with his book while I shivered and waited out the tests.

Well, I dodged the bullet and turned out pretty okay – a localized infection, but not body-wide. So I went off with antibiotics and the stern lecture to come back the INSTANT anything became worse.

Not too old for cycling after all! (© Huffygirl 2011)

Did I recover? Several days later I was completely back to normal and no longer questioning if I was getting to old for cycling. And of course I had a dramatic story with which to regale anyone who was willing to listen, about my vacation trip to ER in Mayberry. 

Remember that old insurance commercial where a disaster has occurred and the commentator says seriously “Don’t let this happen to you!” Well, don’t. If you get a bee sting, a scrape or cut and start to feel signs of infection like fever, chills, body aches, redness, swelling, take it seriously and get health care promptly. I don’t want to lose any of my readers to a bee sting.

© Huffygirl 2011