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The day I almost died of a bee sting

  • Soundcheck Rob Azevedo

  • A bee pollinates a flower at Sugarloaf Nurseries in Sunderland.



For the Monitor
Monday, August 27, 2018

Around the time the Manchester-based rock band, Scalawag, was wrapping wires and breaking down their set during a recent Saturday night at Memorial Field in Pembroke, I was over near the electrical box, shutting down the power on what was a glorious night.

And, I don’t say that lightly. The evening was a delicious, savory night with the mood set on soft winds, orange dusky skies, and the wiry, infectious sounds of the band.

The concert was one of a series being held every other weekend throughout the summer at Memorial Field.

I hated that electrical box from the minute I saw it. I’m not very good with that stuff. Still, it wasn’t the box that haunted me, it was those darn bees hovering inside, outside and everywhere around. We don’t have much of a past history, me and bees. Few stings here and there as a kid, a few more as an adult. Nothing beyond a tasty welt and a touch of pain. But when a hornet or a wasp caught me on the cheek with one of their stingers, well, I did more than just wince and curse this time.

I almost died.

Bees are public enemy Number One this season, out on the hunt, not just for blood, but for lives. Earlier this summer, a young man from New Hampshire who was in his 30s died after being stung by a hornet. His system shut down, as did his brain, and it was over. Just like that. A bee ruined so many lives! Unimaginable.

Unless you’re me.

Less than 10 minutes after being stung, I was fine, running my mouth, sitting with a friend on a blanket, checking in on the night. Her 3-year-old son came barreling over, cute as can be. I got up to chase the little man like a monster. He had his hustle on so I gave chase. That didn’t last long. Five steps in I went to my knees, then my face went crashing into the grass. Thump! Right on my nose, hands-free. I was later told by a group of friends who were standing not far away that I stood up, took one step and face planted – 207 pounds of Dad girth back into the earth.

Crack! Right on my face again. Madness ensued.

The rest is recall by my friends who were frantically trying to keep me from slipping to the other side. I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t blame you: “Every story needs a little zest. And he’s shaking it on pretty good here.” I’m not. Things got ugly.

I was in a full seizure. All from a bee sting. My lips were bloody from my piercing teeth and the broken nose I suffered from collapsing left me with even a larger orb attached to my face than I previously endured. I began a full-on slide into the unknown. I was convulsing. I urinated and defecated myself. My entire body was in a cold sweat. This I am told.

What irony, I later thought, that it was quite possible I was going to beat my own mother to the grave. And she was lying in a hospice house in the Bay State, rebirthing (I am told) her way into a new life. What circumstance. What odds.

Someone shouted, “He said he had got stung by a bee! Who has an Epipen!?” Silence. Then someone called 911. Others ran to me and turned me over, revealed a slumping, gurgling mess of a man. Someone held my back, encouraging me to breathe, which I wasn’t doing with any consistency. My face was wiped clear of blood. My eyes were swimming in the sockets – leaning, leaning, leaning ever so closely toward a full slumber.

Ten minutes later, I awoke in an ambulance after one of the medics hit me with a Epipen. I came through in a halt, like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction. Dazed and ugly, my new jeans were tarnished on both ends and my nose looks like I had really ticked off Ronda Rousey. I had grit on my teeth and my mouth tasted like I had gone to town on a patch of sod. But, I was fully functional – fingers, feet, neck, everything. Close call. I went to the ER, got a CAT scan, got cleaned up and was home by midnight – exhausted and sore in the face, but relatively at ease with what had taken place.

I said to myself, “If the last thing I remember before dying is chasing a cute little boy around a field with a dozen people that I truly love surrounding me. I’ll take it.”

I went to the basement later that night, played some music and considered the evening. My friends and wife were messed up emotionally, some more than others, some unexpectedly revealing in their concern for my well being.

It was awful to witness for all of them, and for that I am most sorry. I suggest full-on warfare against the buzzing enemy as retribution for their sufferings. Look what they have done, look at the emotional horror these little beasts bestowed upon all these fine people.

The heathen on the ground, well, he likely deserved it. Not them though.

(Rob Azevedo can be reached at onemanmanch@gmail.com.)