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Not today, murder hornet... not today!

Lately I have not loved social media! The pandemic, politics, and virtue signaling/shaming have been unbearable. Debates are conducted daily within my own mind to determine if I should abandon it for my own sanity, or remain and value all the different perspectives. I’m still contemplating what is in my own best interest but in the meantime, I felt the need to share an experience, something that has restored my love and passion for humans without taking into consideration their political affiliation, economic status, belief system, ethnicity, or strategy for combating a global crisis.

On Saturday I embarked on an 8-mile walk with my husband. We planned to trek a loop close to home because time and commitment prevented us from venturing out to the county park for a hike. Not even 50 yards from our front door I was attacked by an unknown stinging insect. I say “attacked” because this SOB stung me on the back without provocation, I wasn’t swatting at it, wasn’t aware of its presence, and was otherwise oblivious to its proximity until I felt the sudden burning sensation below my left shoulder blade. I stopped in my tracks and cursed, quite loudly, but was determined to complete our walk. I’ve been stung many times before, by both bees and wasps, and never had a bad reaction… irritation at the site of the sting, yes, but nothing requiring medical treatment. My husband asked if I wanted to go back home and treat the sting but I insisted we continue.

Around the ½ mile mark, my palms began to itch. It was an odd sensation but I didn’t think much of it and we kept trudging along. Close to the 1-mile mark, the itching was incessant and annoying. I finally looked down at my hands and noticed a raging case of hives and blisters on my forearms. Something wasn’t right.

I agreed to turn around and head home at this point but was still very certain it wasn’t anything of concern. My husband wanted to call 911 immediately but I downplayed my symptoms and convinced him it was safe to walk the mile home. He offered to run back home, get the car and come pick me up. I initially refused and said, “I’m trying not to panic or overreact”... but a few steps later I looked at my arms again and said, “ok, maybe you should.”

He took off running and said, “if you get worse, call 911!” In less than 2 minutes of his departure, my throat started feeling strange and I knew I was in trouble. I continued walking in the direction of our home, hoping to shorten the distance between us so his arrival would be quicker. I had only gone a short distance when I could feel my tongue swell and my airway closing. I immediately dialed 911 but had difficulty talking and relaying my location.

Across the street I noticed a man doing yard work and tried to yell to him. He didn’t respond so I walked into his yard and was able to get out the words, “I need help!” He walked towards me in confusion, as if to apprehensively greet this strange woman on his property at 8:15 in the morning. I managed to tell him something had stung me and I couldn’t breathe. Without hesitation, he offered to help… ”I’m going to get my wife, she’s an RN”

Split seconds later they were both in front of me, he took over the duty of conveying an address to the 911 dispatcher on my phone, and she assessed my condition while devising a plan to save me… I was completely helpless laying in their driveway fighting to breathe. They retrieved an Epipen from inside their home and administered it immediately. This life-saving medication, intended for their own daughter, was now being used to rescue me.

Mild relief came but was short-lived and I continued to struggle. The ambulance hadn’t arrived yet and they discussed the possibility of a 2nd dose of epi. He ran into the house and ransacked his daughter’s nightstand in search of more medication. (I didn’t find this out until later when I visited to thank them. His daughter was asleep in bed and was awakened by all the commotion that morning)

In the midst of this chaos, there wasn’t one second wasted considering safety protocols surrounding Covid-19, there was only compassion. No one asked for credentials, proof of health insurance, ability to repay, my worthiness in receiving treatment, or debated who was responsible for the outbreak of this crisis.

After that 2nd dose, an ambulance arrived. I was stabilized and transported to the hospital for several hours of monitoring and evaluation. During my stay, I was repeatedly told by medical staff how lucky I was and reminded of how differently the outcome could’ve been. I’m not prone to drama or exaggeration (unless it aids my sense of humor… in that regard, I exploit the hell out of it) so I don’t want to overemphasize the danger I was was real, it was scary and you could be reading my obituary rather than another one of my goofy posts right now.

In the hours and days since this incident, I have struggled to make sense of it all… how I can spend several hours a week in the woods on a hike or trail run without incident (with the exception of a tumble every now and then) but walk out my front door and tempt death within minutes of an encounter with an insect. How am I worthy of the RIGHT people being in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time to rescue me when I was too stubborn to accept the common sense approach by my husband...TWICE that day? I’ve received explanations of divine intervention, coincidence, plain luck and my identity as Wonder Woman...I don’t reject or discount any of them, I just know I’m alive to appreciate them all.

Two days later I revisited the family that saved me and learned they too were still trying to make sense of it all. Had it not been for mechanical failure, this man wouldn’t have been standing in his front yard when I needed help. He had been trimming weeds in the backyard, out of sight, but came to the garage to repair the trimmer he was using. He told us that piece of equipment had never failed him in the 18 years he owned it until that day. There were several details they shared with me regarding that day and their encounter with me, some we laughed about and some we didn’t… but I will cherish all of them.

I will never forget laying in their driveway and looking up at the beautiful blue sky as I was fighting to breathe. It seemed strange that the sky could be so peaceful while I was experiencing such desperation. Thanks to this family, I gained more than an extension of lifespan, I gained a valuable new perspective about discerning where to invest passion and where to withhold it. Reckoning with my mortality brought some much-needed clarity about the things I allow in my life.

No one in the equation of this anaphylactic ordeal relied upon interactions or debate on social media to determine how they would react in an emergency. There wasn’t a notion or sentiment voiced on Facebook or Twitter that influenced their behavior and there was no consideration for social standards or expectations. This was life in real-time, not opinions featured on an electronic page.

Current events have made it feel like social media is where passions come to die... they get trampled, argued, ridiculed and dismissed. My energy doesn’t feel well spent defending or advocating for meaningful things in a virtually formatted world. My good intentions are best received when accompanied by my actions, not my opinions.

Forever grateful and learning.