(flickr photo - yellow jacket stinger)
Mention bee stings and everybody knows of a magical cure! Those who have never been stung by a bee will smirk slightly when you say that on a scale of 1-10, it hurts a number 10!
Today, I know from personal experience that pain is what the patient says it is, and that 99 out of 100 treatments for bee stings don't work for me! (See here for 100 cures for a bee sting ((after you finish reading this))
Yesterday while standing outside talking to a friend, a hot little bee got trapped between the fingers of my left hand, and he stung me with every drop of his bursting bladder-full of poisonous, pain-on-a-scale-of-10, yellow jacket venom!
My friend immediately made me a cold plaster of baking soda. This is touted as treatment #1 in most books, but except for a brief moment of cool relief, that mendacious 'cure' was discarded and replaced with treatment number two - an ice cube and an old 1978 penny.
Hubby examined the 'hole' for evidence of the stinger with his newspaper magnifying glass, but the yellow jacket had selfishly kept that for the next innocent long-winded outdoor talker.
The penny was too heavy and wasn't helping my mood at all, so I grabbed an egg from the refrigerator and broke it over my hand. (Treatment number three on the web is egg white.)
For a heart-stopping instant, I thought the cold egg white might be bringing the pain down to a 9.99, but that was only my imagination. I was grunting with every breath. Hubby was hovering too close, and nothing could distract me from the pain. I told hubby between clinched teeth that I was really glad a child had not been stung by that bee. No wonder they cry and cry.
About then, the friend whom I'd been visiting called to check on me. She is also a nurse, so I informed her that the pain was a 10 on a scale of 10. She believed me because she also knows the nursing rule that says "pain is what the patient says it is". (I'm sorry to say, we often don't believe our patient if it doesn't look like it should be that high.)
After that I tried everything I had in the house while vowing to stock the first-aid kit with everything else I didn't have in the house for bee stings.
I crushed an Advil and made a paste. Then hubby cut open a gel-Advil and added that to the mushy mess. When that didn't help, I washed all that off and scraped an onion onto my hand and topped that with molasses syrup. (Honey is another suggestion.)
After getting sticky syrup all over my blouse and the arm of the chair, and still puffing in pain, I got rid of the eye-watering odorous mixture and applied a simple wet tea bag. (At least that smelled better!)
I thought the tea bag might be easing the throbbing up-to-my-elbow pain for a few minutes, but a little test movement of my fingers starting the knife-jabbing, needle piercing, hot prickles of pain up and down my arm again, so I tossed the tea bag.
(No. I'm not allergic to bees.)
Soaking my entire arm in a pot of warm salt water distracted me, but didn't change anything.
Soon I was hammering away at some Tylenol PM pill on the bathroom counter. I dribbled that liquid over my hand and went to the computer to search for additional remedies (and distraction.)
By now, it had been three hours since the 'shot' of venom. The kitchen counters were littered with fixings of first-aid measures, and the bathroom counter had various colored pills scattered in with all my earrings. Oh yes, I tried to dissolve pure aspirin before attacking the Tylenol. (I didn't know I had so many drugs in the house!)
Then I sat down in the living room and started surfing TV channels.
"Maybe there's something on to distract me," I mentioned to hubby who had been watching his favorite history program.
They say bees are mean.
I say, "bees make one mean!"
Well, by bedtime and two pain-pills-in-my-tummy later, the hootin' and hollarin' was less. Maybe I could call the pain a 6 out of 10.
Right then and there, I reaffirmed my pledge to honor any patient's complaint who says his or her pain is a 10 when it looks like he should be only a 2 or 3.
For those who might ask, my hand is almost back to normal today. Perhaps all those folkways didn't relieve the pain, but it did something to dissolve the poison and promote healing.
Take Care on the Journey,
And respect those pesky bees