O Log - Stung

[26-Jun-05] 

    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 exactly 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.

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