Yesterday morning around 11:00, I headed out to the outdoor laundry room, and while I was loading the first of two loads into the washer, I felt a sharp pain in my left upper arm. I was wearing a lightweight shirt with sleeves rolled up to my elbows. The sharp bite I felt was under my sleeve. I had applied repellent only a few hours earlier from my fingertips to my shoulders. I slapped the intruder and went about my laundry task.
A few minutes later, pain from the bite started shooting through my arm. I gently rubbed my hand over my sleeve, again not giving it much of a thought. I didn’t think much about the bite, figuring it was a hungry mosquito or a tiny spider that may have walked up my arm from the opening in my shirt sleeve.
About 30 minutes later, with the escalating pain and outrageous itching, I went to the bathroom (during load shedding when I couldn’t see very well in the mirror) to check it out. It looked red and swollen, about the size of an egg. Immediately, I put ice on it using the frozen ice pack we keep for such occasions. I kept it on the bite for about 20 minutes and then covered the area with cortisone cream.
As the day progressed, it worsened, and by 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, it looked as it was when we took the first photo. After dinner, as the swelling, pain, and itching continued, I took the second photo. At this point, since it was worsening, I texted Louise, and she contacted Field Security here in Marloth Park to have a paramedic stop by and check it out in case it was a venomous spider or insect that may require medical attention for injection of some type of antivenom.
I wouldn’t have gone this route if it wasn’t looking more and more swollen and red by the hour. But, there are many dangerous insects, including spiders, and scorpions, whose bites may require medical attention. I wanted to rule out those possibilities by having a local paramedic check it out. No doctor’s offices were open on Saturday at 7:00 pm, 1900 hrs., and there’s no such thing as Urgent Care anywhere in the area.
The paramedic arrived about 30 minutes later since he had trouble finding the house in the dark. My concern was if it worsened overnight, we wouldn’t be able to head to the closest hospital emergency room in Nelspruit since it’s highly dangerous to make the 75-minute drive on the N4 at night. Plus, the houses in Marloth Park have inconsistent and non-sequential numbers that make no sense.
The paramedic looked at my arm and knew it was a bee or wasp sting. The type of bee or wasp was one I was less allergic to than others since I had no systemic response other than the pain, itching, and swelling at the site. Tom and I are allergic to bees and wasps, and we always carry an EpiPen with us. I would have used the EpiPen if I’d noticed any throat or face swelling.
The paramedic rubbed ice cubes on my arm, applied two types of creams, and told me to let them know if it got worse overnight, and they’d take me to a hospital via ambulance if necessary. No thanks. I didn’t feel it was necessary to go to that extreme.
I barely slept all night due to the itching. I took Paracetamol (Tylenol0 for the pain and an antihistamine for the itching. There was no relief whatsoever, even with the addition of cortisone cream during the night. Finally, this morning after applying gobs of calamine lotion, I could sleep for two hours after Tom woke.
This morning, it looks the same as it did last night. Now, I am on a two-hour schedule of icing it and adding calamine lotion, the only means of relief that holds me for a few hours. I’ll follow the same protocol tonight since I think this will continue for at least a few more days.
I will spend the day in the bedroom today with the fan on. I am wearing my insect-shield safari shirt, which repels insects to a degree. I certainly didn’t want to have to cover my painful, itchy arm with repellent to be able to sit outdoors, although I used it to cover the rest of my exposed skin.
At least this morning, Tom and I prepared everything for tonight’s dinner, which will be easy when it’s time to eat. I chopped all the vegetables, and Tom made the meat (which I seasoned) for tonight’s taco salads. All we’ll have to do later is reheat the seasoned meat on the stovetop (during load shedding), and we’ll be good to go.
On Tuesday, the school holiday season officially ends, and we expect to see more of our favorite animals return to our garden. We look forward to this and also heading into Kruger for a much anticipated self-drive safari.
Anyway, TIA, “This is Africa,” which is the price certain allergic types like me have to pay to enjoy the wonders of the bush.
Photo from one year ago today, January 8, 2022: