Yesterday afternoon, I found myself surrounded by people in masks. Heaved unceremoniously from the ambulance stretcher to the hard emergency room gurney, doctors and nurses with little white masks dangling from around their necks quickly went to work to revive me from anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction initiated by the stinging bite of one, tiny little red ant.
Fire ants, they call them here in Florida. And this isn’t the first dangerous run in we’ve had with them. The victim the last time wasn’t me, it was Magic, my then 2 year old shih-tzu. We were on our regular evening walk, when, as dogs will do, he stuck his nose into a mound of them. Suddenly, he started writhing around on the ground, rubbing his face on the cement. His face began swelling immediately, and then he started vomiting. We grabbed him up and raced him to the nearest emergecny vet where they dosed him with benadryl and cortisone.
I’ve been bitten a time or two since then, usually on my toes because when I’m in Florida I’m either barefooted or in sandals. These bites were itchy for a few days, but little more than a mosquito bite. Yesterday was a different story. Within seconds after feeling that sting on my toe, I was itching everywhere, and hives had broken out all over my legs, abdomen, and arms. Then I got nauseous, dizzy, and finally, just as the ambulance arrived, completely blacked out. And that’s how I found myself surrounded by a sea of masked faces.
Apparently, there are at least 100 people a year who die from reactions to fire ant bites. I’ve been armed with an Epi-pen and advised to carry Benedryl at all times. Luckily, I’m fine, other than a little tired and headachy. Thanks to all those people with little white masks dangling from around their necks.
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