Since some of you have asked, yes, it’s true. I was stung by a bee on Friday. This tends to be a bigger deal for me than most people since I have required CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on more than one occasion as a result of a bee sting. I am highly allergic to bees and was once brought back from the dead by paramedics after being stung, but only certain kinds of bees are dangerous to me. Wasps and similar ground bees, for the most part. The type that lives underground and can sting repeatedly.
So I was sitting on my front stoop with my dog on Friday afternoon when a bee flew onto my bicep, stung me, and flew away. A storm was approaching, and I was once told that thunder and lightning can make bees act erratically and unpredictably, so I should have been more careful. This was the first time I had been stung in almost twenty years, and knowing that I might not be able to breathe in about five minutes, I was a little nervous.
I went inside the house and told my wife I had been stung. Her immediate reaction was to gather all the epi-pens in the house and pester me for the next thirty minutes, oscillating between a desire to pump me with adrenaline, call 911, and drive over to the nearby walk-in clinic, just in case I started to react.
I explained that we should wait and see if I actually experienced a reaction. Getting jammed in the thigh with an epi-pen is no fun, and there are side effects to contend with if it is used unnecessarily, including shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, and vomiting, to name a few. Calling the paramedics would have led to an instant trip to the hospital, which could have been unnecessary and wasted a lot of time. And while driving to the walk-in clinic wasn’t a bad idea, it had started raining cats and dogs, so I chose to wait it out at home.
It’s essential for me to remain calm when I am stung despite the prospect of an obstructed windpipe and hands the size of catcher’s mitts. I need to be able to monitor myself for possible reaction signs, which are unfortunately similar to the symptoms that one experiences when panicked. So I sat down at my computer, updated my Twitter and Facebook feeds to reflect my predicament and calmly resumed the revisions of my novel. At the same time, my wife glared at me in a vicious combination of fear, anger, and disgust.
I know she was worried about me, and it couldn’t have been easy to sit there with your daughter, wondering if your husband might stop breathing, but she didn’t make the waiting easy. After all, I was frightened, too.
Thirty minutes later, I was pretty sure I was safe—no sign of reaction whatsoever. The bee was clearly not of the deadly variety, though I must say that the sting hurt like hell. Once we felt sure I was out of the woods, my wife told me she was mad at me for ignoring her requests and that it would be more difficult on her than me if I were to die.
I understand the logic behind this argument, but I think my logic is better: If I die, I don’t see my daughter grow up. She does, even if it’s without me. I lose, whether I’m aware of the loss or not.
Death always sucks more than life. The sentiment that “it’s hardest on those who are left behind” is always made by those fortunate enough to be left behind.