Well, it finally happened. After years of living in scorpion territory in the US southwest and Mexico, I finally got nailed by a scorpion a couple of nights ago.
Whatever you’ve heard or read about the pain involved in a scorpion sting, just ignore it. There are no words that I know of in English to describe it. It literally takes your breath away. [And not in the Berlin "Top Gun" song sense!] Apparently, scorpions can decide how much venom they want to shoot into you based on how threatened they feel. And apparently I scared the crap outta mine.
For a split second, I thought that I had somehow electrocuted myself. The jolt from the sting was that strong and that bad. I literally screamed. A bloodcurdling yell worthy of Jamie Lee Curtis or Geronimo as portrayed in ’50s western movies. I hollered so loud I scared my cat.
And then the swearing began. And the pain.
I could actually feel the poison going through my finger, up my arm, and into my armpit, headed presumably to my heart, which would explode into a million pieces upon impact.
What to do? What to do? I’ve been lectured about what to do and read about what to do in case of a scorpion sting on numerous occasions, but I totally blanked. The only thing running through my head was “Make the pain stop!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, please, make it stop!!!!!!!!!!!!”
I’ve been through childbirth and have ruptured two discs in my back, but I have never felt the localized pain that this little scorpion inflicted upon me.
So I did what any nonrational person would do…..I shoved my hand under running water at the kitchen sink. Because, you know, THAT’S gonna help. It was like a scene from a bad horror movie where the teenagers run into an empty cabin in the woods and close and lock the door. ‘Cause, yeah, that’s gonna keep the monster out. Idiots!
The running water, of course, didn’t do a damn thing except open up one synapse in my brain to let in the information that my first housekeeper down here, Amalia, once gave me about scorpion stings. “You will need,” she said, “limes and tequila. You need to put the lime on the sting and drink the tequila.”
And I had them both! I was saved! So I grabbed a lime out of the fridge, somehow managed to cut it in half, and shoved my finger into the middle of it. Then I grabbed the unopened bottle of tequila…..and could not open it. [sigh] Are you aware that the top of an unopened liquor bottle is pretty much impossible to unscrew with one hand? Go ahead. Go grab a bottle right now and see if you can do it. I’ll wait.
But you don’t have any unopened liquor bottles in your house, do you? I know you faithful readers much too well.
Take my word for it. You can’t do it….especially if you have half a lime shoved onto the middle finger of your right hand, which is totally numb, and you’re right handed.
Just then, another synapse opened up in my brain and through it came screaming the word “ICE!!!!!!!!!!!!”
So I grabbed a cube from the freezer and shoved it right there next to the half lime on my finger. Now both hands were fully engaged in my treatment, so I tried to close the freezer door with my elbow. So wrong. I whacked the door so hard that I sent it crashing into my head and almost knocked myself out. [sigh]
And, by the way, why, in this state of emergency, I felt it necessary to close the freezer door I will never understand. “I may be dying, but I’d hate to run the electricity bill up and let all my frozen food from Costco go bad.” WHAT????
But do you think any of this actually helped reduce the pain? Of course not! Applying stuff on your outards when the poison is running through your innards just does not work.
However, it did shock my brain into opening up another synapse that allowed in the thought “Must get help.”
So what did I do? I went back to my computer….where I was sitting when I got stung….and tried to google “scorpion stings.”
You know something else you can’t do when you right hand is useless and your left hand is holding a half a lime and an ice cube at the sting site and you’re still in horrible pain? YOU CAN’T USE GOOGLE! Stupid nonverbal command computer!
But I need help, because again another thought slipped into my awareness: “There are some symptoms that tell you if you need to get to a hospital right away. What are they? Oh, what are they? Cannot remember; must find out.”
So what can I do? Well, I can call a friend and ask THEM to google “scorpion stings” and find out. That’s it! That’s what I’ll do!
But, unfortunately, in an attempt to save more money on the electric bill, I had unplugged the power strip that keeps my TV, DVD, satellite receiver, and phone going. So the phone was dead. [I know, I know, a cheaper electric bill is going to be the death of me! How sad is that?]
But I did manage to get the power strip plugged in and then waited for the phone to recharge….all the while holding the ice cube next to the lime on my middle finger and whimpering.
Do you have any idea how long it takes for a phone to recharge???? About a million years in pain time; that’s how long!
But finally it was ready to go and I called my friend Kathi, who by this time was preparing for bed and had shut down her computer. “Turn it on! Turn it on!,” I screamed. “You have to get online and tell me what the symptoms of lethal scorpion stings are!!!”
“Okay, okay,” she said calmly, “just hold your horses.”
HOLD MY HORSES???? I’m dying here!!! The pain is unrelenting, I’m panting like a happy dog after a good run, and I have a speed bump in my throat when trying to swallow! This can’t be good. “Call me back!”, I yelled to Kathi. “My phone doesn’t have enough energy for me to keep hanging on!”
Oh, wait, I thought as another brain conduit opened up, I need to swallow something. I need some kind of antihistamine! Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket!
And thank heavens my friend Jonnie had bought me some generic antihistamines the day before! All I had to do was find them and pop a couple while Kathi is looking up fatal symptoms on the internet.
Amazingly enough, l found them almost immediately. However, they are in a blister pack and I’m still using my left hand to hold the lime and ice on my right middle finger. OMG, I can’t get them out!! I can see them right there. Not a foot from my eyes and yet I can’t get any out. What to do? What to do???
Use my nose!! That’s it! I will use my nose to poke them through into my right hand. My hand is numb and yet, somehow, still burning like fire, but surely I can catch two little pills! Or not.
I couldn’t, dear readers, I couldn’t. I was actually able to poke the pills out of the blister pack with my nose, but I could not catch them. So there they went, rolling along the top of my kitchen island.
And then the tears finally began to flow. And the phone started to ring. What to do? Answer the phone to find out if I’m dying, or find the antihistamines and get them into me? It was like Sophie’s choice…..only without the horror of giving up one of my children to the Nazi’s gas chambers. [Yes, now I realize that I was being a tiny bit melodramatic, but at the time I did not.]
I opted for the phone.
Of course, it was Kathi on the phone and she calmly…..yes, STILL calmly….read to me from the Mayo Clinic’s website about deadly scorpion stings. And I’ve got every single symptom!!
Okay, okay, I don’t have the symptoms to the degree that could be fatal, but I do have them. This is it. This is barb’s last stand. I am Custer and the scorpion is the Lakota, the northern Cheyenne, and the Arapaho all rolled into one little bundle of death. I’m going down.
“But, wait,” Kathi says, “I’m going to have Sher call you. She’s a nurse and she’s been stung before, so she will know more.”
Oh, yeah, that’s just great. I’ll be a goner by the time Sher calls.
But I’m not. Sher calls immediately and in a very serene tone asks me a few questions. “Can you still breathe? Is your vision okay? Can you swallow at all? Do you have on clean underwear?”
The answers are yes, yes, yes, and yes.
“Well, then,” Sher said, “I think you’re gonna live through the night. And if you don’t, at least you’ll have on clean underwear when they find you.”
And so I did. Live through the night and have on clean underwear just in case.