Sandals, shorts, and oh, yes a bigger purse are all things I need for summer. Why do I need a bigger purse? I need it to carry my most important summer accessory of all, my Epipen.
Last year I had to add one more allergy to my every growing list of allergens. This was one, according to my doctor, was a serious one. In fact, it is one that could actually kill me. I am now allergic to bees.
I found this out the usual way. I got stung by a little yellow bee that I assume was a honey bee of sorts. I was in our car and the little thing flew in the window. It stung me on the back of my shoulder. Yes, it hurt a bit. It got me in the fleshy part of my shoulder. Yet, I didn’t think it was a big deal. It would just hurt for a few minutes and possibly leave a little mark.
I was wrong. That little mark kept growing bigger and bigger. In fact the mark couldn’t really be seen anymore. In place of the mark, a hive was beginning to appear. It was a bit itchy, too.
By morning, the mark was a big hive that was forming a circle that took up my entire upper shoulder. It was also warm to the touch. When afternoon arrived, the circle was a bit red. Deciding, I didn’t like the way it looked, I called my doctor’s office and was surprised to find that they had a cancellation. Figuring that the stinger may be in shoulder and not being able to get a good look at it. I went on in to see her, expecting to get a prescription and that would be that.
Yet, I was wrong. As soon as she saw it, she asked me if I was having trouble breathing. I said no. She went on and checked the spot. She didn’t find any stinger. However, she did inform me that she thought that I was allergic to bees then she went on and explain what could happen.
She said each time I got stung with a bee, the reaction could become worse. This time my body reacted by forming hives. Next time, nausea could develop as well as vomiting. I could feel faint. I could have tingling on my tongue. I could become hoarse. I could even have trouble breathing. Worse case scenario is that I could actually go into shock and stop breathing.
At the time, I was stung by physician told me that she had another patient who was currently fighting for his life due to a bee sting. He had a severe allergy to them. That really got my attention.
She gave me some antibiotics and some allergy medication for my current bee stung. Then she told me that she was going to write me a prescription for an Epipen. This Epipen was something I had to carry with me in the spring, summer and fall months when the bees were flying. Then she gave me a brief instruction on how to use the pen.
She said that the pen was little and looked similar to an actual writing pen. It would come in a plastic container. If I were ever stung by a bee, I was to promptly get the pen out of the case, remove the safety release. Then jab the tip of the pen into my upper thigh until I hear a click, holding it for ten seconds. I was to jab this pen hard in my thigh.
If I could, remove any clothes from my thigh. It may be hard to jab it through some types of clothing. She warned me not to worry about vanity. This was my life.
She also told me that the Epipen would only work for five minutes after I got stung. For this reason, I had to work quickly.
I took my prescription to my local pharmacy and was shocked to find out that this Epipen was going to cost me $50. I have no health insurance at the moment. I am a self employed writer. This means any health coverage I get will come out of my own pocket. Yet, I knew this was an important medication. I went ahead and filled the prescription.
My next surprise came when I received the Epipen. It was bigger than I imagine. It was bigger than a regular pen, which my doctor described. It is about six and half inches long and a little over a half inch wide. I choose to keep it in its regular box to keep it from getting lost among by other belongings and to make it easier to find if an emergency would occur.
The pen itself is good for one year, if you do not use it. Once used, it has to be properly discarded and a new prescription or a refill needs to be filled. My doctor also said if I were ever to get stung by a bee that I should use the pen promptly and then head to the nearest Emergency room.
Of course, I also take precautions against getting stung by bees.
• I avoid wearing colognes, perfumes, bath products, hair sprays, etc when I am outside.
• I am aware of my surroundings.
• I do not walk barefoot in the grass
• I do not swat at bees to make them angry
• I make sure my husband checks the outside of our home for nests
• I take precautions and I carry my Epipen with me.
How can you tell if you may be allergic to bees or insects? Once bitten, if any of the following occurs please seek medical assistance:
• Feeling as if you may faint
• Trouble breathing
These symptoms may occur within moments of being bitten or stung, or within hours.
Remember with each bite or sting an allergic reaction can become worse. This means, it may not have seemed like you were allergic to bees or insects last year, however this year you may be highly allergic to them. If you suspect you are allergic, seek medical attention immediately. It could be the difference between your life and your death.