Let’s get started with a quiz! For the big prize, tell me the difference between the two items presented below:
Very good, class. Yes, that’s me on the left. A human pin cushion. The tell-tale is the grid pattern on my back. That indicates that I served as a playground for an allergist who was trying to determine what caused me to try dying in my front yard last year.
That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. The fact is, had I not wasted a huge amount of time studying first aid in another lifetime, I would have gone into anaphylactic shock and been in real trouble. As it was, I knew there was a risk that I was allergic to the “bee sting” I got and looked for trouble. First sign of breathing issues and we were off to the urgent care. A lovely shot of epinephrine (EpiPens save lives) and a fist full of Benadryl put me right as rain.
Now, the sting didn’t just cause some breathing issues. My leg swelled up, my belly got hard (heck of a way to get a six-pack) and I couldn’t wear a boot for months. Yup, swelling stuck around for a long time. This was my clue that trouble was afoot. Consequently I carried the injector with me all the time for the next year. Except on days when it snows. Which in Minnesota means I left it at home for half that year.
A friend told me that he had the same issue, but he’d been desensitized to the venom. I dawdled through the summer and finally went to the allergist on the first anniversary of almost croaking due to a bug.
Thus the back. They start out by drawing a very nice grid and marking the blocks to see where the results are strongest. I was injected with bee, hornet, wasp, white face, and yellow jacket venom. They start with small doses and get larger. I am allergic to yellow jackets. Joy.
So, for the next 5 years I will be getting shots. It starts out as a weekly dose for about 6 months (all figures are wild guesses) and then every month or so for a while. Eventually it trails off to every eight weeks. Oh, and I can have a reaction every single time! (But that risk is minimal, don’t worry Mom.)
The end result is that I will have the same risk of a reaction as the average person. Right now I run a better than 60% risk of a severe reaction when I get stung. I’m not good with that risk since I travel to places where the hospitals are not all that magnificent.
Am I looking forward to the shots? Yes. It means I don’t pitch over when a bug gets angry. But every week? Um… yes. I’m just thankful that modern medicine can do this for me.
In the meantime, I have a couple of cans of 21 foot death for any of those killers who next in my yard. No chances being taken until I have a leg up on this deal.
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