Public Service Announcement (warning: contains graphic images)

One afternoon when I was a sophomore in high school, as I was getting on the bus I suddenly felt a searing, raging pain in my right hand. Looking down, I noticed a stinger, which I promptly asked the driver for help removing.

Within a short period of time, my hand had swollen to three times its normal size and I had red streaks up my arm. After the half hour ride home, I showed my mom, who rushed me to the ER, where I spent another four hours waiting while the allergic reaction increased.

I was extremely lucky – they sent me home with Benadryl and I had no anaphylactic reaction. My husband, years later, still insisted I bring an Epi pen with me on our honeymoon in Europe.

I didn’t get stung again until last Saturday, as I was taking my soon-to-be 10-year-old to the grocery store to shop for food for his birthday party on Sunday. As I grabbed my shopping bag, I felt a sharp “bite” – not anywhere near as intense as the sting twenty plus years ago – and, looking down, saw evidence of some kind of insect on the inside of my arm. There was a guy BBQing meat nearby, so I assume it was a wasp.

The next day, my arm looked like this:


It hurt a bit more than the previous day and was warm to the touch. My mom thought it looked like cellulitis (which can be bad).

On Monday, it hurt worse and was even redder and angrier:


On Wednesday, it looked like this:


By Thursday, things reached a crescendo. My arm itched so badly that cortisone did nothing for it:


That night, I took Benadryl before bed and hoped for the best. The intense itching woke me up yesterday morning. Again, cortisone barely touched it. But the redness started to subside:


Which brings me to today – one full week later. The sting site is a little less red, and I’m actually wearing short sleeves today. I’ve only had to apply anti-itch cream once so far today.

All this to say that, while I already knew I had a bee sting allergy, apparently my body doesn’t care for wasps either. Be careful out there this spring and summer!