Every summer we travel to Canada to visit my family. My aunt and uncle have a beautiful home on the golf course they own and a pool in the back yard to enjoy. Contrary to popular belief a Canadian summer is just like ours, hot and humid. Not to mention my family doesn’t live too far from Windsor which is in Southern Ontario. So last August when we took our trip, summer was in full swing and so were the bees.
I had walked out my aunt’s front door to get something from the van for one of the kids. Well usually when you walk out someone’s door you expect to walk right back in that same door but my aunt’s door must lock on its own after it closes because I couldn’t get back in. I shrugged my shoulders, turned around to go to the back gate to gain re-entry into the backyard when I hear “Buuuuuuuuuuzzzzzzzzzzzzz” and felt a ZAP then I yelled “OOOOUUUUCH!” Yep, something stung me and stung me good! I was swiping at my shoulder blade saying “ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch,” when I entered the backyard and my husband was half concerned and half giggling. My aunt asked what was wrong and I said that I had gotten stung. She asked if I was allergic and I responded no, not that I know of. She reassured me that they had an epi-pen at the golf course clubhouse if we needed it. I told her that I felt fine, just a little dizzy and George said that it was probably just the adrenaline. They examined my shoulder blade to make sure the stinger was out and got me some ice to take down the swelling. The rest of the day went great.
Fast forward two weeks later , my friend called and told us to come over for a farewell bonfire as they were moving out of Columbus for our home town Toledo. George gave me the green light to go by myself and he’d stay behind to elevate his ankle that he’d hurt earlier in the day. He was just going to head outside and make his own bonfire. Before I left I loaded up a small cooler of beer and brought out a radio for him so he could really relax. I sat and had one glass of wine with him and discussed the success of my dad’s 70th surprise birthday we had that day before I departed. Since the kids were sleeping I left out the back gate and walked around front to hop in my husband’s car. Once I got near our rose of Sharon bush I felt something shock my ankle. I thought no way could it have been a bee since it was 9:30 at night. I was “ouch, ouch, ouch, ouching” to the car and brushing my ankle to get the stinging to stop, to no avail. Once I reached the car I got this flash of light headedness and felt flush but I just chalked it up to adrenaline like at my aunt’s house and climbed in the car and headed to my friend’s house. Once I got there I told them what had happened and they checked out my ankle and didn’t see the stinger or much swelling. After my bee sting story was explained I poured myself a glass of wine and headed out back to enjoy the fire and some conversation.
I felt so relaxed by the fire after such a long day that when my heart started to race I got a little nervous. I mentioned my racing heart to my friend and she said to just try to relax and stay calm, but it was hard to stay calm when my hands and arms started shaking, my legs went week and my head started to feel like a lead ball. Now I’ve never passed out before so I would have no idea what it would feel like preceding a fainting spell but that’s what I felt like was about to happen. My friend’s husband had come back from the store to find her on the phone with 9-1-1 and me not looking so good. Once the paramedics arrived they checked my pulse, my pupils and placed a clamp on my finger. They asked me a ton of questions about the sting, looked over the point of entry, asked what I had done all day and what I had eaten. They explained that since I hadn’t gone into anaphylaxis or passed out then I clearly wasn’t allergic to bees and said that maybe I had too much wine and too much sun. Maybe, but I highly doubted it since I only had one glass. All while this was going on my friend kept trying to reach my husband but he wasn’t answering his cell. I had refused transport to the hospital and returned back to the bonfire to settle down; my friends wouldn’t let me leave until I returned to somewhat normal. We texted George to disregard the voice mail but the text didn’t even get a reply.
Once I left and returned home I found my husband, my neighbor and his wife all sitting around the fire talking, laughing and totally oblivious to my emergency call to George, and 9-1-1. I explained what had happened and they just sat amazed. I wasn’t feeling very good and I was super tired so I bid them au due and headed for the comfort of my air conditioning and pillow. The next morning we were supposed to go to church but I was still feeling awful and I just figured it was from the busyness of the day before. However, I sucked it up, got in the shower and we loaded up the kids in the van for church. I could barely stay awake listening to the Pastor preach about our glorious God. My sleepiness in church is unusual since I am always in awe of what is being said, but not this Sunday morning. By the time we had got home I was feeling exhausted and sick. I had to lie down, my husband of course understood. I thanked him for taking care of the kids and I crashed into our bed. I had fallen into our bed about 12:30 and didn’t wake up until 3:30! After I had rubbed the grogginess out of my eyes I headed downstairs to be with my family.
After all of this feeling sick and being exhausted it had me concerned that the paramedics may have been incorrect in their analysis of my situation. I called my doctor on Monday and told her the symptoms I had experienced and she told me to call an allergist and soon. I called my daughters allergist and they got me in on the same day as my daughter’s appointment. I had made an appointment for her after we noticed rashes and painful ear rubbing after ingesting some peanut butter. Since my bee sting was so close to the appointment date they couldn’t do the venom testing and have a good result. They wanted me to be six weeks away from the sting. In the meantime they were testing my daughter for environmental allergies along with the peanut allergy. Everything came back negative except the peanuts. She was most definitely allergic to peanuts. So the allergist explained that since she was so young it would be best if we just stayed away from tree nuts completely. Not only would it be easy for us to teach her that nuts were not a part of her diet, it was also easier to explain it to friends and family as well. He also explained that she could develop a reaction to any nut at any time. On our way out with this alarming new information I stopped and rescheduled my bee sting testing appointment.
5 weeks later I was back in the allergist’s office to be tested for bees. First they administered some environmental tests and it came back that I was allergic to mold, pollen, ragweed, grass, dust mites and dogs; so in a nutshell I am allergic to the planet and my dog. Herein lies one of the dilemmas, we’ve had our dog for six years and with my out control cough we had to decided what to do. Why didn’t I know of this before? Well, ever since I quit smoking the cilia in my lungs were awakened to the allergens in my body including the allergy to my dog hence my ignorance to the dog allergy. After they tested me for the environmental element it was on to the venom testing. After 4 sticks of needles in my arms it came back that I was indeed allergic to honey bees and yellow jackets, but not wasps which is what I probably got stung by in Canada. So now I have to carry two Epi-pens; one for Mary’s peanut allergy and one for my bee allergy. Enter dilemma #2, the rose of Sharon bush in the front yard. It’s big and beautiful but my husband says he won’t cut it down until we can replace it with something, which means more than likely it will still be in our yard this summer.
To recap, Mary’s allergy equals one, peanuts; my allergy equals the planet, bees and dogs. Maybe I should just live in a bubble? I go back and forth about what to do with the dog. On one hand he’s been with our family for six years, the kids love him, and George feels better about him being around for security. On the other hand, he sheds too much, he begs too much, he costs too much and I would be ok with finding him a better home. Then after I think of his absence I get all teary eyed and if I even mention him going away Samuel gets very emotional and hugs Boomer and uses his best sad voice to exclaim “NO! Boomer stays here!” As for dilemma two, the bush, it’s really not a big dilemma for me; I want it gone as it attracts every bee as far as Delaware! It’s my husband that has this attachment to it. He thinks cutting it down will make the front of the house look stupid, which it may but what’s more important, the appearance of the house or my life?
I know it’s said that God has his plan for everything, but I really don’t understand his plan for allergies. And how I went almost 26 years since my last bee sting is beyond me, again God's plan! Let’s just continue to pray for everyone’s health since Mary and my allergies to peanuts and bees can be life threatening. I also pray that Mary’s childhood is easy to navigate around the ingredients of all snacks and meals. God is good so I know he’ll be looking out for us and keep us safe.