I was mowing the upper lawn area, roughly same area where last year the Admiral got chased out by a gang of yellowjackets while she was weeding the flowers.
Today's suspect - or suspects - are white-faced hornets, tiny little bastards with an incredibly nasty bite. Cousin Roger Beardslee, who lives just down lake, got bitten three times on his hand more than a week ago and days later his hand still looked like a baseball mitt.
WANTED DEAD OR 'BARELY' ALIVE
The bites (three in all) hurt a lot, enough that I came into the house and put ice on them. (I never do that...) Then, of course, I went back out in the hot sun to finish the job, only to come in within 10 minutes with an itch over my entire body that reminded me of being 15-years-old and up to my elbows in fiberglass dust. (I worked a parttime job at Maple Bay Marina in Lakewood, New York, cleaning out new fiberglass boats fresh from the MFG factory in Pennsylvania.)
So in the house, I discovered that the itching was turning into huge hives, running from my left ankle right up my back. And I was having a little trouble breathing (Who wouldn't?) but not really bad considering the heat, the humidity, the three stings and the itching.
Then the first chest pain hit and it was in-the-car-and-go-to-the-hospital-time.
But wait! What about the ambulance?
Mid-way down the highway to the hospital, as the chest pains went from a simple "ouch" to "Oh shit," to "^#$WQ^%*&#@^#$&#$*#$&%^," the Admiral saw me clutching my chest and called 911 for an ambulance and paramedics to meet up with us a few miles short of the hospital.
I didn't object. Talking above a whisper even hurt a little by then.
At Clute Park, just outside Watkins, we pulled over and as the ambulance flew over the crest of a hill, with its siren going and lights blazing ,I thought, "Gee, look, somebody's in trouble."
In the ambulance, I couldn't remember my address or birthday, though my name came out pretty clearly. And I noted that the siren is a lot less impressive inside than out. With a mile to go to the hospital, I heard the doctor in the emergency room tell the paramedic to zap me with some benadryl, which he did quite expertly. Getting a tube inserted into your vein while the vehicle is moving is quite exciting. (OK, they did stop for about 20 seconds while he gave me the big poke.)
After the benadryl, followed by a shot of some steroid in the E-R at the hospital, it was time for a three-plus hour nap while they watched me to see which would win the argument: the hornet's venom or modern medicine?
I am happy to report right now at home, with one swollen ankle and a handful of various drugs to take for the next few days, that medicine won, though I am on limited duty. The chest pains turned out to be a muscle spasm, induced by the toxin.
As soon as I am back on the duty roster, I am ready to use the two cans of really nasty hornet poison I bought - the kind you shoot from 25 feet away - to deal with my new-found enemies.
I might even hobble out at dusk tonight to give the nest the first of several blasts.