Monday, September 18, 2017

Once Bit, Twice Shy Part Two

After my run-in with the yellow jackets on Saturday afternoon, I was pretty much done with gardening or anything else for the rest of the weekend.  Saturday night was miserable, I was up and down all night long.  The stings on my head and neck are painful, but the ones on my hands are the worst.  I was taking Benadryl every four hours along with ibuprofen which did help, but I certainly could tell when the medications wore off.  
Random photos of the garden this past week

By Sunday morning, my hands had swollen even more than I thought possible; it's a wonder the skin didn't split.  They resembled surgical gloves blown up with air.  
Yikes!  That's a fat hand.
 I resembled a Cabbage Patch doll of yesteryear; my hands looked as if they were sewn on, and closing them was very painful.  Taking back to back doses of Benadryl meant I was more or less a zombie, so after making Sunday's noon meal, I told Carl I was going to take a nap.  I managed a fitful two hours before I gave up and went downstairs.   Carl was working on weeding while he waited for me to wake up.  He asked me if I wanted to go for a ride, and I agreed. I wrapped my hands in gauze soaked with Witch Hazel and off we went.  I brought the bottle along so I could re-wet the gauze at intervals. 

First, I asked Carl to drive the car out to the field to see where the hornet nest was.  We had no trouble finding it, there were swarms of yellow jackets hovering and flying.  I could see right where I'd stopped cutting the hay was smack dab centered on their nest.  With the high amount of wasp activity, I was very lucky to get away with only six stings.  Thank goodness the tractor has a good road gear.  Just sitting in the car with the windows rolled up I found I was still leery of being so close to the buggers, so Carl drove away.  

I hope I'm not developing Spheksophobia!  (Yes, there's a name for the fear of wasps.)  I don't want to become a Spheksophobe, mostly because that would mean I'd have to throw in the trowel with gardening and also because that's a weird title to wield for the rest of my life.  "I'm sorry, I cannot go outside.  I am a Spheksophobe."  

Ummmm........sure you are......all righty, then.

When I was a little girl, I remember being terrified to go outside one summer.  I think it was because I saw my father go berserk swatting at a bumblebee with his hat; I actually could see fear in his eyes and that unnerved me.  If my big, burly dad was afraid of a bee, then I'd best take notice, too!  The lure of the outdoors finally won me over, but I've always been leery of the stinging nasties.  
Danger lurks in the long grass

 For the future of my hay cutting, I'm not sure how I will protect myself.  This has never happened to me before.  I think I will be looking into some sort of Kevlar gloves and bee-keeper's hat/suit just to be safe, especially if I wait until so late in the season to mow.  They seem to be especially active and aggressive in the early fall, presumably because it is their last hurrah, too.  I'm sure they fill an ecological need somewhere, but I wouldn't be sad if every last one of them froze to death.  Good riddance.

More random wandering around.
Sunday night was another rough one; my hands were itchy and painful, my arms ached and woke me up several times.  I kept up with the Benadryl/ibuprofen regimen and hydrocortisone cream and finally woke up quite late, groggy and itchy.

I could stand to do some tidying up a bit too, sheesh! 
Thankfully, by this morning the swelling was down a quite a bit, but now the skin is loose on top of my hands.  As I got moving in the morning, though, the swelling set in again.  I spent most of Monday simply sitting and itching, but managed to make a bunch of phone calls pertaining to settling Mom's estate.  I guess I did accomplish something.

I wandered out to the mailbox in midafternoon and took a seat on the gazebo.  Here's something new:  we added two new benches to the gazebo and Mom's Memory Garden.  How she would have loved to paint these beauties:

I just know they would have been gorgeous if she could have turned her artistic talents on them.  

Hopefully in a few days, the swelling and itching will go down.  Most of what I've read said it will take a week.  

Now I have to get over the paranoia of any flying insect I see.  Gosh, I'm a Nervous Nellie!  I didn't even water my potted plants today; this won't do.  

There are lots of pots needing my attention.  (Why do I plant so many?  Carl always asks me that question, too.)  I guess it's good exercise, because it takes a lot of walking to and fro with watering cans to give them all a drink.

Ok, I will get my act together and water them all tomorrow morning, I promise.  The geraniums are amazing plants; most of them have been overwintered for years now and they always repay me with abundant blooms.  
'Americana Series' Pink with Red Splash, new this year.

All too soon, it will be time to haul the plants I want to save in the house.  

And you can bet, I will be checking them for any stinging varmints before I do! 


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

Oh dear Karen ~ your poor hands. I am so glad the swelling is starting to go down. I would have a fear of hornets also after that stinging episode you had.

Your flowers are gorgeous as always.

Love & hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

Ellie's friend from canada said...

I know you had a lot of stings but I'm appalled at the degree of swelling. I think with this degree of swelling that you really must carry an epipen (not just have one but carry it on you always). If you get stung again, it might be swelling but it could trigger anaphylaxis. You are now sensitized to wasp stings and the next one could trigger a grave reaction. Also, I carry some liquid capsules of Benadryl on me (it dissolves very quickly into the system). And a little prescription for prednisone tablets would not be amiss.

As for the itching, you might make a paste with baking soda. Some say to use oatmeal (it's a special kind) or calamine lotion.

You are really an inspiration with all that you do. And your garden flowers are just lovely. Thanks for sharing and taking us on a tour. Get well soon. If the hand gets any hard red areas you must see a doctor immediately as it could be an infection. Hopefully, you will be spared that but don't tough it out. Best wishes, Ann

Beth said...

Hi Karen, So sorry about your wasp stings. My goodness! You are the third person I know of recently who has been attacked by several yellow jackets. They are apparently particularly aggressive now. Keep in mind what Ann said, but here's my story. I had a wasp sting at a golf course just above my knee. It got swollen, red and hard; quite a reaction. I carried an epi-pen after that, from my primary care dr. Later I asked an allergist about it. He told me it was not an allergic reaction, rather it was just a reaction and I did not need to carry an epi-pen. I've been stung since, but probably a different type of bee or wasp, not sure, and had no problem other than a little pain.
Now, on to the garden! Love your gazebo and benches. Please don't just work in the gardens; take time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors. You do indeed have a lot of pots. I don't have too many; 7 hanging pots, 4 on the front porch, one on the window on the potting shed and 3 others. Many of mine are self-watering - to some extent. We get them from Gardeners' Supply and they have a large chamber you add water to so you don't have to water as often.
Your bubblegum petunias are glorious. Mine aren't such good bloomers this year. I have them in a galvanized wash tub and they bloomed well early. They are overflowing to the ground but once the heat and drought hit the blooming is minimal. I have kept them watered and I use Bloom Booster once every week or two. They are in full sun. What's your secret?
Take care, Karen.
Blessings, Beth

Ellie's friend from canada said...

Hi Karen,

The problem in not carrying an epipen is that you cannot predict how your body will react to a sting. You should not be terrorized for the future BUT you should be prepared. The swelling is in your hands this time. You don't want swelling to move next time (as in your throat perhaps). You have had an allergic reaction this time. I know epipens are expensive but having one could save your life or your husband's (who knows how he would react to so many stings or even one) or even a visitor's. You are not right next door to a hospital, I don't think. The minutes waiting for an ambulance might be too long. It is just a necessary precaution. I would be tempted to show your hands to a gp or nurse and maybe an epipen could be covered by your insurance if on prescription. You might want to go to a gp now anyway and see if prednisone or other steroid pills are necessary for a short course.

It is a cold crisp, bright sunny morning here. I am soon going to put on a sweater and venture out to do a few things. It is too cold for wasps for awhile. I delayed weeding a flowerbed because the beebalm was attracting so many bumblebees. Now that it is out of bloom, and cold for the wasps, it would be a great time to weed.

P.S., I love the idea of a beekeeper's helmet and veil and protective clothing for you to mow in and look forward to seeing a photo of the fashionista's helmet! [Don't decorate it with flowers! that's all:)]. My father had such equipment which I would gladly give you but I think it was given away years ago. Wasps are really vicious because unlike bees that sting only once, wasps can sting repeatedly. This I found out when a single wasp became trapped under the skirt of a long dress. Just as I was walking up the little hill to my mother's house, it climbed up my back stinging me as it went. Imagine my mother's surprise when, greeting me, I threw off my dress to get rid of the wasp. My sympathies to you for the nasty wasp stings. You're so fortunate you could escape from the wasps so quickly. I hate to think of the alternative... When pioneers farmed, there were deaths when children and others stepped on a wasp nest. I was so lucky that that didn't happen to me. I don't know why I realized instantaneously that I had stepped on a nest.

The worst sting I had was when I was out in the country, the mountains. I did not have an epipen with me. I had some prednisone (but it takes a while to act). I cannot remember if I had an antihistamine. My doctor later told me that a bucket of ice cold water could have been used (the water being poured over me or my head). That would have caused me to produce more adrenaline (which is what an epipen would do). I'm not sure it would have worked but interesting idea when one is in the bush without an epipen. I always have an epipen with me in the mountains now. You should have the pharmacist explain how to use it. Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh. It can be used through clothing.


Alison said...

I sure hope you're feeling better. It must have been a horrific experience. I've only ever been stung twice, and one of those was by a poor, confused, tiny little honey bee that died right after. I'm still paranoid about flying insects. I like the idea of you wearing a bee outfit for mowing. We once hired someone to remove an enormous hornet's nest from under a porch, and when the exterminator came, he took one look and said "I'm going to need my bee suit." We all pictured him in a costume that made him look like a bee!

Karen said...

Rainey,thank you! Yes, the swelling has gone down substantially, finally! By Tuesday, I could close my hands again. It will be some time before I can wear my wedding ring, but I know it's starting to improve. :-)

Karen said...

Ann, thank you for the information on the epipen. I will be talking to my doctor about it. The swelling on my hands has gone down very much, and the itching is much less. It's wonderful to be able to type again with ease! This weekend we are going to be in the high 80's to near 90....perfect weather for angry wasps. I will be steering as clear of them as I can! This is unusual weather for Wisconsin in September; I much prefer the cooler temperatures and the wasps would be much less rambunctious then, too. Reading your story of a wasp caught in your dress, I can only imagine what your mother's surprise! The ice water is a good tip to remember, too. We are a good twenty minutes from the nearest emergency room. Thank you!

Karen said...

Beth, I know what you mean; a few days before our son's wedding, I was stung in the nose by a wasp while weeding. I thought, "Great, now I'll look like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer for the wedding," but surprisingly after keeping ice on it for an hour or so, it never developed into much. Then I'm stung by these wasps, and I'm out of commission for a week. Go figure? I'm thinking it's possibly because of the amount of stings, or possibly the type of winged terror providing the venom. I'll talk to my doctor and see what he says.

Since we moved the gazebo, I do find myself sitting there much more often than before; it's a lovely place to take in the view. You're right, we shouldn't just work in our gardens, we must take the time to enjoy them.

The Bubblegums did especially well here because we had a rather cool (except for now!) summer with ample moisture. I've had years mine petered out, especially in high heat. I have been fertilizing up to twice a week now that the root balls are a solid mass which also seems to keep them going. And some years, I have had a thrip or aphid problem, too. I do think weather has a lot to do with their long-term beauty.

Karen said...

Alison, I would have thought the same thing! And how comical it would have looked to see an exterminator in a giant bee suit, though I doubt the wasps would have found any humor in the sight. From my experience with wasps and hornets, they take offense at the slightest provocation. :-)

El Gaucho said...

Karen - Yikes! What an incredibly scary situation. Very glad to hear that you escaped with only six stings. That's awful, but so glad that it wasn't worse. Your instincts to high-tail it outta there were right on.

I hope you heal soon and can return to the garden. Sadly there's probably not much more you do but ice, Benadryl, and Ibuprofen. Hope you feel better soon!

outlawgardener said...

Sorry to laugh at your pain but the image of a zombie cabbage patch doll trying to cook dinner tickled my funny bone. Maybe you plant so many pots because they're so danged beautiful. You really do an excellent job of combining plants in containers and taking excellent care of them all. Most of mine look pretty ratty by this time of year because once school starts, they don't get much in the way of care.

chavliness said...

"Why do I plant so many?" Because they look so darn beautiful, that's why.
With a little preparation, let's hope you never get bit again. You are very lucky to not be allergic to the sting: you could have been in serious trouble. Your hands look better already, and I hope the misery will soon be completely over.