Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bees, Wasps and Hornets

Ever since we arrived here last weekend, we've seen a LOT of bees around. Actually, they are what I've always called Yellow Jackets, and it makes me curious about the distinctions among bees, wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets. But since I don't have reliable access to the Internet here, I will have to wait until we get to the library again.

Meanwhile, we've had the Pump Guy help out by shooting Magic Poison from a Can into a big nest in the back yard, and Grandma has taken care of some of the critters on the porch by spraying Wasp Stuff at their known nests after they go to bed for the night. I even located a small but growing nest under one of the chairs on the porch. Man, they're everywhere!

So of course, today, after we rode our inner tubes down the Wenatchee River for a couple of hours (a very pleasant float we've done before), we were relaxing and waiting for Grandma to pick us up after taking Sugar (the very old, very sweet Samoyed) to the vet for her checkup. Sipping cold drinks and munching popcorn is very pleasant when you're still soaked with cold river water, but sitting out on a warm afternoon.

So my wife kicked off her sandals and was swinging her feet in a relaxed, summer afternoon sort of way, when she suddenly winced in pain. Well, "wince" doesn't really cover it. I'm not sure there is a word that describes someone's entire body wincing, but that's what she did. Eventually we were able to get her to speak, and tell us she thought she had been stung, and please go inside the snack bar for some ice.

I ran (as best I could in the borrowed water shoes that don't quite fit) back into the shop, asked for a cup of ice for a sting. As the young man scooped some ice into a cup for me, he said he had something to help take the pain out of the sting, and returned quickly with a little glass capsule thing. Running back, I quickly read the directions on the sting-out thing, crushed the little capsule, and gave it to my wife to help with the sting. It seemed to relieve the pain a bit, as did the ice. We then noticed that another bee (I'll just call it a bee for now) seemed to be hanging around the sandal that was still off her foot. We theorize that there's something sweet smelling on the sandal, which attracted a bee, which happened to be in an inopportune spot when a foot came swinging by.

A helpful nurse sitting on a nearby bench offered some advice about hydrocortisone and such, after receiving reassurances that none of us are terribly allergic to stings. We elected to move back indoors, however; in spite of the cool air conditioning and general noise level, we deemed it preferable to sitting out with more bees.

As we're waiting for dinner (local pizza parlor delivers out here--yay!), my wife calls the local medical facility to discuss the intense pain that keeps coming in waves. She's taken ibuprofen and antihistamine and put some salve on the toe to draw out the poison, but wonders if there's more she could or should do. The guy helpfully says no, that she should just expect it to hurt like the dickens for another 2-3 days. How very reassuring. Pretty good pizza, though.

Now it's a number of hours later. Several doses of ibuprofen and some other medications have relieved some of the pain, and I'm hoping my wife is already asleep when I join her in a few minutes.

In the mean time, I'm still wondering about whether we're talking about bees, wasps, hornets, or yellow jackets. Or whether there is a meaningful distinction among all of those. Definite research topic for our next visit to the library.

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