So I was doing some yardwork yesterday and I gut stung by a yellow
jacket. I've been stung by bees, hornets, and other wasps before,
so this seemed like no big deal.
A half hour later I was so dizzy and faint I could not function. I
often get this on running days, and it passes after a couple of
seconds -- a doctor has told me it is normal and benign in my
case -- just a momentary position shift drop in BP. But this
didn't pass so I stumble into the house to be near a phone, and
I drink about a liter of water to attempt to drive the BP up in
the near term.
Then my hands and feet start to tingle. This can't be good, but
it all seems such a mild case of whatever it is. Then my legs
break out in a nasty rash. It looks and feels like poison oak.
Which is interesting, as my legs got covered in the stuff at
the metrogaine in San Fran (don't bushwack in the Bay Area in
the dark with a wimpy headlamp ...) -- a nasty case that lasted
a week, but had cleared up by now. The coverage of the rash was
the area of coverage the poison oak had, including an isolated
patch on my arm that was breaking out again. No other dermal
symptoms or inflammation anywhere else, including the throat,
which is supposedly the area to watch for sting poison allergy.
Well, the faintness passes, and I stand up and my legs look
positively flabby. Same itching and coverage level of the
oak, but much more inflamed. So I decided to go to the ER,
and am on IV antihistamines and steroids a half hour later.
I guess I'll never know if that was necessary treatment or
not, or if what seemed like a pretty benign case of bee sting
allergy would have passed. Now they have me on three different
drugs for a few days including 'roids. I asked the doc if they
would show up on a doping test :-)
So, this presents an interesting puzzle. Was my immune
system torqued out from the poison oak, and is yellow
jacket poison similar? Does the poison oak toxin remain
in your skin forever, and if a similar toxin comes along,
am I hosed? Is yellow jacket toxin stronger and different
than that of other bees and wasps, including hornets?
(Previous experience has wasps as the wimpiest of the lot,
at least in terms of pain from the poison). Is my sting
allergy circumstantial or systemic? Is the universe paying
back for my slight dissing of the sport of canoe O in yesterday's
entry? Well, hopefully I've documented everything well enough
for the doctor visit and future research.
Not relating to O too much except in one thing that fascinates
me, and that is time compression/expansion. When this sort
of stuff happens to me, time slows down a tremendous amount.
It seems like I have endless hours of time to sit there and
reflect about this insect sitting on my arm, injecting poison
into me, me counting its body stripes, all in the split second
I am swatting it away and running from the area, also rationally
thinking there may be a nest here. It is almost like Libet's
65ms temporal lag factor in consciousness is waived for these
situations. I've experienced the same in an auto accident and
similar situations -- you have so much extra mental capacity,
and time slows down.
Relating this to O, my best runs always seem slow. Time is
perceived relative to information flow in the brain per second,
not the decay of some timing element in a watch (which I never
look at in a typical race). So, in these best runs, their
again is some waiving of the time penalties in consciousness,
or at least some sort of expanded mental capacity. But the
observed increased observational power and clarity of thought
and the general experience is exactly the same as during the
sting incident. I've written about this effect in my racing
before, but have never come closer to understanding how it
gets turned on, or to the holy grail of being able to force
it on for a race.
Well, time to take the family orienteering. Will take it
easy, and do the land lubber's course.