Buzz Buzz Mother Fucker (Part 1)

Today (along with each day this past week) I am introducing myself to some new corner of one of the computer labs on ASU's main campus as I wait for my husband to finish his class. He has dubbed this time and my departure from the house as "summer camp". The thing is, and I'm about to get real real here, I'm scared to stay home by myself.

What the fuck right?

For many a day now I've shadowed Tyler's every move like a Type A intern willing to do anything to land the job. Anything. He goes to the gym. I go to the gym. He goes to school. I go to a lab immediately next door to his class. He goes to bed. I go to bed. You get the picture.

I won't spend a ton of time explaining how completely abnormal this behavior is because I have to imagine that anyone actually reading this already understands this to be highly unusual for me. I will simply say I typically covet my alone time. I can easily occupy myself for hours...days...weeks even, without ever interacting with another person and be okay with it. I'm sure this behavior does little to contribute to me improving my social skills; but what can I say, I like having time to do my own thing (whatever that might be), and I'm pretty damn good at entertaining myself. My hula hoop skills for example have improved dramatically this summer. I'm not quite music festival ready, but I can keep that hoop-a-spinning through multiple John Oliver and Hot Ones segments.

So how did I transition from an otherwise normal and content little recluse to someone scared to be left alone? This will take some explaining and chances are some of you won't get it. So let me first say these past days have probably been the least enjoyable I've encountered in a very long time.

About ten days ago Tyler and I went down to the river with some sub sandwiches and chips. It was around 11:00 am and it was hot, maybe 105-110 degrees. Our plan was to sit our folding chairs into the cool river water near a curve that forces tubers to smash into the rivers edge before maneuvering further along the river. We've done this before, and it's pretty entertaining to sit back and watch. This time we decided to leave the populated areas of the rivers edge behind us and walk across the bridge to a park that has been closed for years; a spot that is only accessible by foot. We thought it would be nice to spend some time at our own little beach.

After crossing the bridge we needed to cut through the desert to reach the parking area. We proceeded to follow a "path" of sorts which is always a little unclear in the desert, but we could at least see the river up ahead to direct our route. As I mentioned it was oven-like outside and I was beginning to not feel real great about the decision, my decision, to find a spot that required walking even a short distance in the heat. I may as well admit I was also worried we'd stumble upon a snake or two. And if I was being extra honest, I began to feel less excited and more uneasy about the whole plan with each step we took. My mind already suggested we just turn around and go sit by the rest of the hoards of people seeking relief from the heat, but we instead headed further into what is a very isolated part of the river. I brushed off my feelings of apprehension.

It is probably important to revisit how I occasionally have panic attacks. There was the time I had to get off the little train as it carried us down into the mine in Bisbee. There was the time we were waiting to be let into the baseball game in Arizona while hung-over and overheating. There was the time in the Denver airport when I became locked in the bathroom stall and ultimately had to climb up over the stall to escape. Elevators. Planes. Etc. I wouldn't say I have these episodes often, but at this point I've had them enough to recognize my body's shift from what I will call "healthy energy" to "unhealthy energy".

When we were walking to the river that day I knew my energy had shifted. I felt it. But I tried to tell myself we were fine, that I was fine.

The problem was that in the days leading up to our visiting the river stories of heat stroke and bee swarms dominated the news. Three people had just died of heat stroke while hiking and one from mountain biking, and they weren't even out in the mid-day heat. A swarm of bees had attacked one young guy in the park right next to our neighborhood, and his friend only managed to survive because she found safety inside a restroom building. These are not old wives tales meant to guide your behaviors. These are real stories that just recently occurred and you can feel free to look up the details. Because my mind likes to hang on to stuff like this, it was all fresh in my thoughts as we made our way to the river that day.

I didn't tell Tyler I was uneasy. I didn't tell him because I fucking hate feeling like I can't control how I feel...if that makes any sense.

We reached the river after a bit and this did provide some smidgen of relief since we could cool down, but my relief abated only briefly when I noticed the river's edge was pretty active with bees. Noticeably active. I told myself this was perfectly natural as they obviously need water too, but I wasn't terribly excited about crossing through them to get into the water.

We did move past them though to set up our chairs. I purposely unfolded my chair as far from the river's edge as possible. My ass was basically in the water, but it was okay because the water felt refreshing and I just wanted to relax a bit. And I did...for maybe three minutes before a bee took up an active interest in me.

When I tell you how I tried my hardest not to react, I really mean it. The problem is that no matter how hard I tried not to move, I couldn't change the "unhealthy energy" I was sure I was emitting. The little asshole would not leave me alone. He buzzed my ears over and over until I moved my hands up to cover them. But it seems like that was just part of his plan, because that's when he started buzzing my eyes. He was so persistent I could do little to avoid thinking he was merely the first of many that had plans to torment me.

I began to panic on a bit of a deeper level when my thoughts reminded me how mostly all of the honey bees in Arizona are "Africanized", and if you do encounter a swarm the experts suggest not going underwater as a means to escape because the bees will actually wait for you to surface. Naturally, I focused on this and recognized that our being isolated from other people, and buildings, and our car left us with few options if something were to actually occur.

Meanwhile the bee was really taking advantage of me. Between my thoughts of no escape and the incessant buzzing around my eyes, I began to move my hands to shoo him away. I know you're not supposed to, but I couldn't take it anymore. It's actually making me uncomfortable just thinking about it. I can practically feel him fluttering and hear him buzzing all around my face.

After some moments of this he stung me right next to my eye. It pinched like bee stings do, but that wasn't really a concern at that moment. I was fairly deep in panic mode, not full-fledged or anything but definitely not enjoying my time. I was positive his buddies were going to react, sensing the pheromone he had deposited inside me marking me as a threat. I was positive the rest of the bees that were buzzing around close by were going to seek me out and I was going to become a news story because like that young guy in the park I will have had no where to hide when they attacked.

I instinctively moved deeper into the river and kept dipping my hat into the water to douse my head, hoping to both calm myself down and maybe wash away the little asshole's warning signal that I was a threat. (By the way, another reason you're not supposed to react when bees are messing with you is most bee sting deaths occur because people get so caught up in the moment that they literally walk out into traffic or drown or some similar response. It's true. Look it up.)

Besides, I wasn't a threat! Do you know how many fucking bees I have saved from drowning in our pool. Hundreds. That little asshole should have pinned a medal on me for all my bee-related charitable endeavors.

During my temporary lapse of sanity and while I was more or less consumed by my slow moving solo dance in the middle of the river, my hands shook as a I dipped and then doused, dipped and then doused. Tyler, who may or may not have been fully aware of my "situation", sought out another spot along the river for us to move to. He moved completely out of sight and while he was gone, I imagined both his death and my own. Unfortunately I'm not joking, and I cried a little as I blamed myself for our downfall because this little adventure had been all my idea.

Luckily he came back, and he didn't have a swarm of bees covering him. He mentioned another spot, but also noted that there were bees there too before asking if I wanted to leave. I didn't bother packing up. I just grabbed everything I had in the most cumbersome fashion possible and began walking away from the river. I didn't want to give the bees time to consider or recognize me. Once in the empty parking lot, we stopped so that I could pull myself together a bit. I poured a can of ginger-ale into my cup, added ice, and began sipping on that delicious beverage like it was some magic elixir that could transport me home.

It was at this point that I mentioned how I wasn't feeling real comfortable and how I just wanted to go home. Tyler just wanted to eat his sandwich and didn't care one way or the other where that happened.

Once home, I took a Benadryl. The upper part of the skin above my eye was already decently swollen, but it wasn't a huge deal. The edge in my energy level subsided and I no longer feared I was going to die.

I went to sleep fairly early that night, around 8:30. I was probably a little tired from my active imagination early on, but then I woke up at 11:30 feeling a little off. Tyler wasn't in bed yet. I went into the bathroom, flipped on the lights, and instantly was caught off guard by my face. All of the fine tissue surrounding my right eye was swollen beyond anything I had ever seen. I could barely see out of my eye. My energy level began building nicely into that unhealthy zone and my heart picked up the pace.

I walked to the office with my heart beating unnecessarily fast, turned on the light and said with a little hope otherwise, "this isn't okay is it?"

The look on Tyler's face told me it wasn't. He told me to take another Benadryl and when I couldn't relax because I thought I might somehow lose vision in my right eye we went to the Emergency Room for my first time...since my birth.

It would only be four days before I went back for my second visit ever.

(This is long enough. I'll finish and explain why I've become embarrassingly dependent on my husband in my next post Bee Sting: Semi-Survivor (Part 2).


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