Stung by a bee

Two years ago I have visited the remote Medang waterfall near KKB with my friend Siang Hui. It is quite a long hike, but you are rewarded with an impressive waterfall.

While we were relaxing at the fall, taking a bath, making coffee and having lunch, I was stung by a bee. They are called sweat bees, although I think that they are actually wasps, because they don’t leave their stinger behind.
The name tells it all, they are attracted by sweat. And I sweat profusely, so they like me. During the hike, no problem, because I am moving, but when I have arrived at my destination it doesn’t take long before one of these tiny(!) critters finds me and signals to his friends: come over here for a treat!

They are not aggressive, but probably, waving them away with my hands, I must have frightened one of them. I was stung in my back, it was not very painful and I did not pay much attention to it.

However on our way back, a bit later, I started to feel uncomfortable. I felt that my mouth got swollen, I could not swallow properly, my voice sounded funny and I felt faint. I told Siang Hui that I wanted to lie down a bit. Of course he was concerned, but he kept his cool.

After about half an hour I started to feel better and we walked back (still more than one hour!) to our car. First I was thinking about going to a clinic, but my recovery was so complete that there was no need.

Of course the question was, what had happened? I had the feeling that it was related to the bee sting, and searching the Internet confirmed that it had been an allergic reaction!

Actually I had experienced the onset of an anaphylactic shock ! Which can be life-threatening. It was an unpleasant discovery that I had developed an allergy for bee stings. I bought an Epipen and took it with me on my next jungle trips. With an Epipen you can inject yourself with a dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), in case of emergency.

Such an Epipen is not only expensive (~ RM 300), it has also a limited shelf life. Mine has passed its expiry date already.

Of course I was more than ever trying to keep those bees away. Because each following sting gives a stronger and faster reaction.

Two weeks ago I visited another waterfall with my friend Rani, see my earlier post. I was stung again, really a minor one, but still about the same effects.
And here too we were very far away from medical help. I had my Epipen ready, but after a while I recovered, so I did not need it. Kudos to Rani for his support!

When I wanted to buy an new Epipen, I was shocked to hear that they are no longer available in Malaysia! In a few weeks time a friend from Amsterdam will come here for her holidays, so I am now trying to buy one in the Netherlands and let her take it with her.

Recently a friend of mine, Harry Nian, died while on a solo expedition looking for new waterfalls in Terengganu. His last (unsent) sms was, that he was stung by many bees and could not move….. Anaphylactic shock?

I am rather scared at the moment to go back into the jungle..:-(

I am looking for a cream or spray that keeps bees and wasps away, found some information on the Internet, but no idea if this will be effective. And I have heard that there exists something called “immunotherapy” where you can overcome your allergy by regular (controlled) injections with tiny amounts of the venom. If a reader of this post has more information, please let me know!

4 thoughts on “Stung by a bee

  1. I’ve always had a fear of bee or wasp attacks during my treks to waterfalls but never thought about it and trekked on. But after Harry’s passing and the discovery of his last SMS, we should all be wary. At least bring a can of Ridsect to ward off a swarm of bees or something.
    Let’s keep each other updated and when’s our next waterfall trip?

  2. Ridsect will be of minimal use.

    Dress appropriately. Thick material Long sleeve shirt,a neck bandana and a hat for your head and carry an epipen and antihistamines, steroids like methlylpredinosolone.

  3. Hi Jan, to follow up with the epipen shot, crush an oral anti histamin, like Benadryl, into powder form, mix it with water and drink it, as soon as u can start swallowing again. This will speed up the absorption and will reduce the chance of a second reaction in the midst of evacuating yourself.

    Still enjoy reading your post! Keep it up Jan! Thanks!

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