As a sheep farmer we work outside daily. There are different hazards we face, some large such as working around farm machinery or handling an aggressive ram. There are also small hazards we do not think about until we are injured, cut from fence wire, hitting our finger with a hammer, or insect stings.
Yesterday, while getting a pen in the barn ready for for a place to put the Livestock Guard Dog puppies that are ready to be weaned, I was stung by a wasp. I have been stung by wasps before, several times. The last time I was stung was three weeks ago. The wasp sting hurts, but I wash the area, the apply a water/baking soda paste to the sting area, and if the pain is bad apply an ice pack. I did as I have done for years, but this time it was not helping. In fifteen minutes the area of swelling, heat and pain was 6 inches across. I drew a circle around the swollen area and waited to see if the swelling would continue. I then added a Benadryl cream for stings and bites to the area. Fifteen minutes later the area had grown an inch and was continue to swell and hurt.
This was not a typical reaction to a wasp sting for me, so I called my daughter who is a Medical Assistant and studying to be an RN. Our conclusion, I needed professional medical attention.
My husband and I tried to see our doctor, the doctor was out until Tuesday. Next option was the Urgent Care Center. We went in, by now the welling was at my elbow, and my forearm was almost twice the size as the other forearm. I had no difficulty breathing, no facial swelling. The reaction to the wasp sting was just local on the forearm.
The Medical Assistant who took us to the exam room, took my vitals and information was very professional, through and attentive. She asked me were I had learned to draw a line on the swelling and time, called mapping. I informed her I had trained for the Mounted Search and Rescue as part of the Montezuma Sheriff’s Posse in Colorado when I was much younger. While looking at my arm, she stated “It is very angry.” A very appropriate description.
When the doctor came in he agreed, “Yep, it is very angry.” He explained the allergic reaction is termed a local allergic reaction. We discussed if the allergic reactions could continue to get worse requiring an Epipen. He said I may not have a reaction like this again, or the allergic reactions could get worse and would require an Epipen. Epipens are expensive and have an expiration date. But if I felt I needed one, he would give a prescription. His treatment was a steroid shot, along with steroid pills and continue with the ice pack and a follow up phone appointment in two days.
I asked about side effects of the steroid shots and pills. I am sensitive to medications, and do not reach with normal side effects. He said the steroid shot could make my jittery, anxious and not sleep. Ok, I now knew what could possible happen. I received the shot, picked up the pills at the pharmacy and went home.
I sat still in the house, applied ice pack, and took the medication as prescribed. At midnight, the pain and heat was gone, and the arm had stopped swelling. Midnight is my usual bedtime.
In the morning, most of the swelling was gone. I still continued the medications as directed.
I deal with medical situations during the year with the sheep and horses. It is important to keep a calm mind in order to think of what to do and how to treat. When we are hurt, we need to keep the same calm mind in order to think. Keeping calm also keeps the adrenaline in our bodies from overreacting and making the situation worse. Overactive adrenaline also affects our ability to make rational decisions.
When serious situations arrive: Stay Calm and Do Not Panic and seek professional medical treatment if necessary – for you and your animals.