While relaxing with a tin cup of wine in the beautiful Kane Valley high above Merritt on Saturday afternoon, I lazily waved off a busy buzzing hornet.
Looking for easier prey, the hornet then circled my buddy who, with rather rude expletives, suggested it depart to parts unknown. It was then that he pointed out the potential need for his EpiPen, a device containing epinephrine, which is an antidote for severe allergic reactions.
“Perhaps you had best point out its location,” I suggested; whereupon he retreated to his tent (far away from mine), rummaged through his gear bag and produced the device.
To explain why our tents were widely separated is to know that following an evening around the campfire, I am prone to snoring. Not only does it keep fellow campers at bay, it likely discourages encounters with opportunistic bears considering a foraging run through the site.
While I’m told that I occasionally sound like a John Deere tractor without a muffler, I sleep peacefully.
On the other hand, not knowing such things as the location of another’s vital medications can quite possibly be a life-threatening issue.
Thus, after showing me the EpiPen, I suggested he place the device where I could, should the need arise, find it as well as jam it into his leg were he to go into anaphylactic shock.
Potential crisis resolved, we reminisced about the time last fall when he was sitting in a hunting camp somewhere in the back of beyond: suddenly he had felt a sting on his arm – over the years he’s had many of them with no effect – and moments later collapsed into unconsciousness.
Disconcerted would be a mild description of the reaction of his friend that day.
However, following a lot of “oh my goodnesses” or something like that, my buddy came around. The hunting trip resumed, and subsequently there was a doctor’s diagnosis of allergic reaction – the solution an injection of epinephrine and a trip to the hospital should the situation ever arise again involving a serious reaction.
Normally I consider grizzly bears, shooting myself in the foot, or falling in the campfire as hazards to be concerned with, not the occasional hornet.
I’ve never been particularly familiar with allergies, though one of my horses, which spent all its life prior to my acquisition on a small, very high-elevation, dry-country ranch, reacts mightily to plant pollen in the Fraser Valley. Dosing him with antihistamines seems to work, though his issue certainly isn’t grave.
For those allergic to bee stings, it can be.
We then recalled stories of people we knew who had severe reactions to such usually mild things as bug bites or nuts. Fortunately, all survived, though without immediate medication they may not have.
So, as words of warning for those who, like in the nursery rhyme Teddy Bears’ Picnic, “go down to the woods today,” avoid “a big surprise” by ensuring you know in advance if your friends/family have any serious allergies or other health issues. And if they do, find out where the medications are, and keep them handy.
Having a life-threatening moment puts the damper on any backwoods adventure.