Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Bee the odds?

A few days ago I was riding solo at a local park in Richmond. Powhite park has some great tight single track that’s not as heavily used as the main JRPS loop down by the river. Near the end of the ride, I was zooming along the lowest connecting trail when I got smacked on the nose. It felt like a rock hit me, but I knew better…

Normal Jeff
Last August I was stung by a wasp or hornet right between the eyes on the top of the bridge of my nose. I did not pay much mind to it and rode around for another 40 minutes. When I got back to my car I knew I had a pretty big problem, major swelling that was just blowing up.

To make a long story short, I ended up at an emergency care place with an IV of fluids, an adrenaline shot, steroid pills… and a huge swollen face. I was diagnosed as allergic to all manner of wasp, hornets, and the like and underwent 10 weeks of ‘venom therapy’. Now, every six weeks I get maintenance shots equivalent to 2 full stings of about 4 different types of stinging bee/wasp type things.

The venom therapy is my armor, it desensitizes me to my own immune systems potential overwhelming response. An allergic reaction of shock and awe could be unleashed on my body’s own critical systems, such as breathing and blood pressure and respiration on an almost cellular level. Anaphylactic shock and awe.

So, I’ve not really wanted to test out my new armor too much.

After learning of my condition, I set about gathering as much knowledge and preparation as possible. When you really research what happens with anaphylactic shock, you find out it’s some serious shit. Like dead in 5 minutes if it’s bad type of shit.

Fast forward almost a year later. I’ve been riding and racing with 2 EpiPens at all times. Part of race and ride preparation is researching where emergency care is available and how long it might take to get off a mountain. I get ‘stung’ with shots every 6 weeks and that usually results in a bit of swelling, but no dramatics.

Still, I’ve not really wanted to test out my new armor too much.

So a few days ago when I felt like a rock hit my face, I knew it was test time. God damn it! Right on the nose again! What are the odds?

Zooming out of the trail, I began riding home, on high alert. I stopped and asked a lady to see if there was a stinger in my nose. Then I checked my face in her car mirror. Everything looked fine. My face had good sting and a burning sensation that gave me a flashback to last years episode. I popped two Benadryl and washed it down with water.

Bee Sting on nose Jeff
About 15 minutes into my ride home I had a good sense of the swelling in my face. Also, I observed I felt OK otherwise and did not have any difficulty breathing or any hives, etc… Alright, I’ve got the EpiPens but I think this is going to be OK.

Another 10 minutes later and I’m getting closer to home, maybe 10 more minutes. My eyes are swelling enough to affect my vision a little. I try not to freak out and remember to tell myself that I think my body feels OK otherwise. Cresting a hill, I feel a bit winded, but I have to remind myself that this type of felling is normal on the bike. I ride around a corner and as the wind hits me I feel chilled…

 Is that light-headedness, did the wind make me feel numb just then?! For a few moments I debate pulling the rip cord and stabbing that epi pen in my leg, busting out the bat phone and calling 911.

Stay calm I tell myself, it’s going to be OK. Just focus on riding and relax. I have to keep my mind from inducing shock. It’s going to be OK I tell myself. Just relax and ride.

There is my house, everything is still OK besides my swollen face.
I’m lucky, there was no severe reaction and that’s a good sign.

Off to the emergency care place just to make sure it’s OK.
Half an hour later I’m home with knowledge that I experienced a strong local reaction.

Bees 2 / Jeff 0


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