There is a lot to be thankful this year.
My life changed on July 5th, 2015. I was over very good friends house and how quickly a summer barbecue celebration can turn. I had worked earlier that day and wanted to chill. The kids were already in the pool horsing around. I opened a beer and wanted to stand on by the edge and relax. I placed my beer on the deck, jumped in and leaned on the ledge. That’s when this day, my life virtually changed forever. I felt a sharp pain in the tricep of my right arm. It was extremely painful, like I was stabbed with a knife. I screamed like a little kid. I went to grab my arm and a black hornet met my hand but escaped. I was in so much pain I wanted to get out of the pool. The moment I started getting out of the pool I felt a similar numbness of a year ago.
You see back in July 2014 I was golfing on vacation at Jekyll Island. I recall around the 14th hole I had to enter the woods for a ball, I felt the spider web but never saw one and just reacted by brushing it off. I finished the round of 18 and headed back to the condo. When I arrived back, maybe an hour later, my hands had swollen and I broke out in a rash. Being on vacation I did not think much about it and took Benadryl. That night I had chills and hot flashes another rash and more Benadryl. It took about 24 hours and I slept it off and flush out through my system.
Well, that numbness I suffered through then immediately hit me. My hand ballooned instantly, my lips swelled, I felt an instant coldness, an instant itching under my skin. They quickly looked for the stinger in my arm but instead noticed a rash crawling up shoulders, spreading rapidly. He is a nurse and his son’s Boy Scout leader. Having the medical background and a Boy Scout survival kit, he went to retrieve it and get an epi-pen. We were somewhat in the country on a large farm set back from the road. We were at least 40 minutes to the closest hospital. As he came out with the epi-pen and was ready to administer it to me, he slipped on the wet deck and stabbed himself with it in the thumb. By now my heart rate was speeding up and my tongue was beginning to swell. My lips felt like a novocain induced balloon. His neighbor (also a nurse) was checking my pulse and trying to keep me talking because my eyesight was becoming blurred and I was extremely dizzy ( as I write this my chest is shivering) mind you only about 10 minutes has elapsed. She tells her husband that she thinks their son has an old epi-pen in their kitchen cabinet. He takes off running (their house is a good 5 acres through a set of trees into another sub division that backs up to the farmland. She keeps me focused on her. Keeping close watch on my pulse and wants me to keep talking to avoid my tongue blocking my airwave. Her husband comes running back and gives her the epi-pen, she immediately stabs my thigh. It takes a few minutes but the symptoms start to reverse themselves and they have me take Benadryl to help fight the infection. She said afterwards I was close to going into eplitic shock.
That night into the next day my arm was well over double the size. I had to wear an old football jersey as nothing else fit. I had to be given a very high dose of allergy medicine to fight the internal infection. Lots of ice to get the swelling down. Since that day I was prescribed an epi-pen and will now always carry it with me.
Everyone who knows me, knows the place I go to every year is Jekyll Island. I visited it again shortly after this episode and did some research and talking with people who live on the island.
They believe, as well as my doctor, that I was bit by a banana spider at the golf course last year. Once something deadly bites you and gets into your bloodstream it lays dormant. The venom of the hornet triggered my nervous system to shut down. He says every venomous bite from here on out will have a quicker reaction to shutting down my system. He believes that having a nurse there with an epi-pen probably saved my life.
About two days later a construction man was found in his truck dead with a bottle of Benadryl and a bee sting swab in his hand. It happened about thirty miles from where we were that day. It’s amazing that such a small insect could do this but I know first hand that shit is for real. It was a very humbling time for me and I guess with the shivering in my chest it’s still hard to talk about.
I am forever thankful for friends and especially friends who are nurses.