If you prefer to read a pdf of this story, you can download it from my Dropbox folder. Be aware though, that this web version is the latest update of the story.
My parents found out quite quickly that I had a bee and wasp sting allergy. The first
time that I was stung was as a two year old, (1962).
Years later my Mother recounted to me what happened that day. It was a searing hot
summers day and she and I were in the garden. I was asleep in the pram so she left me
in the shade while she was sunbathing a few yards away. Eventually, she also fell
Mum awoke to my screaming. On attending to me she noticed my arm was red and
swollen slightly. On closer inspection it looked like I had been stung by an insect.
Apparently I wouldn’t stop crying no matter what she did, and after ten minutes or so
she noticed my arm had almost doubled in size, “like Popeye’s arms” she recalled.
Leaving me with a neighbour, she ran down to the nearest telephone box and called
our family Doctor. He advised her that I probably had a bee or wasp sting allergy and would need treatment at the hospital.
As my Dad was at work, and we lived a long way from a hospital, she got a neighbour
to drive us there, whereupon my arm had again doubled in size, and I was looking like
just a big arm, and not much more!
After an injection, the swelling started to subside within minutes. Within a few hours, I was still in pain, but recovering fine, and the swelling had almost gone.
The doctor warned us that a wasp or bee sting in the wrong place, (the throat for example), could be life threatening because of the fast swelling. With that in mind, I managed to avoid being stung by a wasp again until I was about 12 years old.
In that incident I was playing around with some friends alongside a stream near my home when a wasp got caught in my hair. Not knowing what it was, I scratched my head causing the wasp to sting me several times, that hurt a lot almost straight away, and I knew I was in trouble, so I ran home.
By the time I got home my head was hurting even worse and everything tasted and smelled like vinegar, it was a really horrible sensation, I can still smell it now.
My face started swelling up within minutes, and my Mum went into panic mode when she realised I had been stung by a wasp again.
By now, (1972), we had a telephone in the house, so she called out the doctor to come to us. When he arrived I was in bed with feverish symptoms and really hurting.
My face was swelling up so bad that it was pulling my nose, mouth and eyes to the right. I looked like the Elephant Man.
I don’t remember much of happened then, except dreaming scary nightmares, fever, and pain.
I couldn’t see out of my right eye, or breath through my right nostril because of the swelling.
All I can remember other than that of that first week, was my Mum bringing me a chocolate bar (a Twix), to cheer me up!
I got a full three weeks off of school out of that wasp sting, so I was happy about that! But I can never forget that horrible vinegar taste and smell, though strangely, it didn’t put me off liking vinegar on my fish and chips!
After that head sting I was very, very careful not to get stung by a wasp or bee again, but sometimes these things are out of one’s control, as you will see.
It is now the year 2000 and I’m 40 years old and I’m working as a night security
guard, sometimes on my 12-hour shifts, I worked alone and sometimes with another
guy, on busy nights.
This particular night in question was a quiet Wednesday and so I was on my own. It was a 7pm start and I always arrived early because I liked to relax with a cup of tea and a smoke before I started my rounds patrolling the shops and supermarket in a shopping complex.
After my cuppa, I needed the bathroom for a dump. I call it a bathroom to be polite,
really it was a tiny, cramped and not very clean, toilet, with just enough room for the
toilet system and a sink to wash your hands. There was an extractor fan above you,
though, so you didn’t suffocate in there
Unbeknown to me, because nobody cared to share the information with me from the day shift, the toilet fan had a wasps nest growing on the outside of it, well, it was just inches from the fan to be precise.
The maintenance man had killed some of them off during the day, but there were still some dozy ones left over from the smoking he had given them.
I had noticed a wasp or two lying in the sink and on the floor and was a bit perturbed by it, but nature had to take its course first.
I finished my business and went to open my locker in the main office, and just as I opened it, I felt an almighty sting, right in my groin.
I knew what it was straight away. A wasp must have got into my trousers or underwear when I was sitting on the “throne”, so yes, I had been stung again.
I laugh at that incident now, as it was like something out of a sitcom, but at the time I was really worried. I guess I was lucky the little shit had not stung my scrotum, or worse. I could of been in real serious trouble then, [probably, I don’t know].
I ripped down my trousers, and the wasp just fell out onto the floor, luckily it had only stung me once.
I wasn’t just worried about my leg swelling up, and god knows what else, I was the
only guard on duty, and there had to be someone there at all times, so I couldn’t just
up and go straight to the hospital.
In a bit of a panic I phoned my sister for advice on what to take for a wasp sting, she
is a semi-trained nurse, and she said I needed antihistamine tablets, quick.
It was nearly 9pm now, and can you guess what time the Pharmacy closes on Wednesdays in the place I was working? You got it, 9pm.
I started running to get to the Pharmacy, and as I ran my leg got more and more painful. It was about a 2-minute run. After I got to the store I felt my groin and it was expanding fast, it was the size of a golf ball already.
I got to the Pharmacy and they had already packed up, and was about to turn the till off
when I came in shouting “stop, wait, I need help on what to take for a wasp sting , I’m highly allergic.”
Whilst holding my groin, grimacing in pain, and covered in sweat. I must have looked
like a right nut job. By the look on the girl assistants face she thought so too
Anyway, I got the Antihistamine tablets that my sister said I should get, and the
Pharmacy girl agreed it was the best medication I could get over the counter. I then
bought a bottle of water and took double the recommended dose.
I phoned my sister to tell her I’ll probably be OK, and to thank her, and then I
phoned my boss to tell him what had happened just in case the tablets didn’t work and
I would have to leave my post and go to hospital.
As it turned out, the swelling went down fairly quickly and I was OK for the night,
except that the tablets made me so drowsy that I slept through most of my 12-hour shift, Oops, luckily nobody found out, though.
So far, fingers crossed, I haven’t been stung by a wasp for 19 years in a row now,
though summer is coming again, so who knows?
My Doctor is well aware of my wasp sting allergy, yet I have never been offered one
of those injection things you wear around your neck, I think it’s called an Adrenalin shot?
What the hell, I think I will demand one next time I see him, it could save my life!
Wasp Stings is dedicated to everyone that dreads the summer each year.
Wasp Stings is © Steve Bale 2016-2019 and cannot be reproduced in part or
in full without express written permission from the author.
My other Memoirs so far:
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