Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night

Yesterday I managed to get stung by some kind of insect (probably a hornet) right about the time I also got stung by some kind of nasty Australian stinging plant. Normally, if I know I've been stung, I right away swallow a couple of antihistamines and then sit down, relax and wait to see if my breathing becomes impaired and I'll need my epi-pen. Sometimes I do need the adrenaline, sometimes I don't. As I didn't know I'd actually been stung yesterday I did not take any antihistamines, focusing instead on flushing the plant sting with water and searching the internet to see if there was some kind of treatment for stinging plants.

While doing this, I suddenly noticed that I was having trouble breathing. Well, no worries I have my epi-kit. Except, my epi-pen was expired (I knew it had expired) and the diabetic syringes I had to draw up my epinephrine (I also carry two or three vials of epinephrine) had all the marks rubbed off so I didn't know how much medication to draw up. You don't want to overdose yourself with epinephrine as it really drives up your blood pressure and heart rate. After madly scratching through all my available syringes, I gave up and used the expired epi-pen. I also had the presence of mind to swallow a couple of antihistamines and told Doug to get the car keys get me to the hospital. Long story shortened, the adrenaline hit me as we were approaching Atherton hospital and we met the ambulance I had telephoned for. I got the usual attack of the shakes, but was happy to see that my oxygen saturation was good, and, I felt very relieved to be where additional medical treatment was available should it be necessary.

Of course, in the clear (clearish, I still feel a bit stoned) light of morning I realize that it does not do to be complacent about these things. In Canada, I was rigorous about keeping all my medications up to date as wasps are exceptionally common and very aggressive. In Australia, I think I've seen one wasp, a few hornets, and, of course bees, but bees never seem very aggressive if unprovoked.

I've already got a new epi-pen, have refilled my antihistamine supply and have marked all my syringes with tape at the correct dose. And, I'll be wearing long pants in the bush next time. It turns out when you think your time might be up, you really do not want to go gently into that goodnight.

Trying to relax in the ambulance

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