I Know You’ve Been Wondering

Like a bee sting. At first. The immediate reflex is to reach for whatever is causing such pain and try to kill it. But it’s very tough, too hard to do anything other than throw it.

Bee stings hurt, then abate. This is the opposite. It’s more like being touched with a hot poker or a lit cigarette.

The sensation gets progressively worse until you can barely stand it. Nothing soothes the stabbing pain. The point of impact begins as a red pinprick, then becomes a blood-red spot, the size of a pencil eraser. The area around that becomes purple and swollen, eventually too sensitive even for the softest touch.

Later the same day, your stomach gets queasy. Your head pounds as if with a migraine. Your eyes bug out. Your vision is rimmed with black. Your face is oddly pale with eyes like a raccoon’s. Sweat rolls down your scalp as you vacillate between hot and cold. Not quite like a fever. That would actually feel much better.

You’re sapped of all energy and want nothing more than to go lie down and sleep. Which you can’t do because of the throbbing pain throughout your entire body. You pace. You stand. You sit. You lie down. You take painkillers. You try ice. You try heat. Nothing helps until the poison has run its course.

And those are the ones that don’t kill you.

Since you might have been wondering what a scorpion sting feels like, I thought it best to get that out of the way up front.

The first time for me was when I was 19, while riding my motor scooter from one part of the camp where I worked to another. It crawled out from under the seat and stung my thigh. All I could do was grab him off of my exposed leg (yes, I was wearing a swim suit) and throw him as far as possible.

I wrecked the bike and still have a few scars from that experience. Especially the one on my elbow where I found a little piece of gravel embedded later on.

The second time was in the heel of my foot while tent camping. Not quite as bad, since that’s a pretty tough part of the body, but enough to keep shoes off my feet for a few days.

The third was in the fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and forefinger while gathering wood for a fire. A very painful place. But I don’t think it hurt so badly because it was the third time it had happened.

I’m not superstitious and don’t care to dwell on why things happen, but strangely, all three of these incidents took place between July and August of the same summer.

After that? When camping, I looked carefully before reaching into piles of wood that had been damp and stacked for a while. When walking outside near a firewood pile, I wore flip flops. No two-wheeled vehicle I owned was ever again leaned against a tree in the middle of the woods.

I’ve seen lots of scorpions since then. But I’m a lot more savvy about avoiding a sting.

And I’d like to think it wouldn’t hurt as badly if it did happen again.

orignal post – March 2007