The angry wasp was swooping around my kitchen like a crazed kamikaze. I grabbed a swatter and swung at it. It executed a figure eight and buzzed my face. What I should have done was leave it alone, but my wrist was burning like fire and I wasn’t thinking sensibly.
Let me go back to the beginning. I have bird houses in my back yard, not the fancy kind like you see in gift shops, but real birdhouses, the sort that might actually house a bird. They are painted in bright colors, very cheerful.
The weather had been rough on them, however, and the paint was starting to peel. I wanted to repaint them before winter. It was really hot outside even in the shade of the patio umbrella, so I covered the kitchen table with newspaper and took them inside where it was cool.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
What I didn’t know was that wasps had staked a claim and taken up residence in a birdhouse. They did not like me messing with their condo. Before I knew what was happening, a deranged wasp swooped out and nailed me on the inside of my wrist. I screamed and the wasp buzzed angrily.
We danced around the kitchen for a while, taking swipes at each other like ninja warriors. Finally, I realized I was going to get stung again if this continued. Unlike bees that lose their stinger and die, wasps can sting over and over. I decided to surrender the kitchen. So what if we never eat again? But the wasp flew to the door and I let it outside.
Now what about me? My wrist felt as if demons had built a bonfire on it. I ran some cold water over it, which didn’t help. Now what? I found a tube of ointment for mosquito bites, and figured that might numb the nuclear fusion.
I looked up “wasp sting” online to see what to do. “Use Calamine lotion and take aspirin. Try to hold your arm up and use ice for swelling.” That’s all? Surely there must be something better? I continued to put the numbing ointment on it but it was an active lava bed that throbbed and burned into the night.
By the next day my wrist was red in the sting area and starting to itch. Apparently, insect bites are not considered serious injuries and there isn’t much for them medically except home remedies.
The itching, the itching, I wanted to scratch my skin off. The more I scratched the more it itched as if there were ants under my skin. My arm was red halfway up to my elbow. Nothing helped. I used ice, but it was as no good as everything else.
I tried not to scratch, even though I wanted to peel off my skin. Nothing helped. I decided to go the clinic at my pharmacy and see if they could do something — anything. I explained my situation to the nurse practitioner. “How do you feel?” she asked. Well, I am not going into toxic shock or anything, if that is what she means. My wrist was glowing like a charcoal grill.
“You can put some hydrocortisone on it,” she said. “It is overthe- counter, no prescription.” My wrist felt like the surface of the sun. I bought the hydrocortisone and used as directed. It didn’t help. Shooting stars exploded from my wrist. It was worse than a dozen mosquito bites, worse than two dozen chiggers, and was supposed to continue for seven days.
I imagine that somewhere a wasp is trying to explain to his wife how he was abducted by a human with a fly swatter and had to fight for his life. “Is that so?” says the wife. “Have you been nipping on nectar again? And by the way, where is our house?”