Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll reports the score as AMMO GRRRLL: 18, SCORPIONS: 1, but that 1 was a doozy. She writes:

Well, I suppose if you live in Arizona long enough, it is bound to happen. On the last Friday in October, just as Mr. AG was putting steaks on the grill for dinner, I ran out of paper towels and went to the utility closet for a new roll. I picked it up and immediately thought, “Who the heck [expletive inaccurate and incomplete] put a needle in the paper towels?”

But it very quickly was much worse than a needle prick. Much. Within minutes, I would have given ANYTHING for a good old-fashioned needle in the forefinger.

But, no. This was the dreaded scorpion sting, my first losing encounter with something that stings with a potent neurotoxin.

My record had previously been approaching Bob Gibson’s complete game stats in 1968 (28). In ten years, I had slain at least 18 scorpions in the house and garage. Most of them I found just ambling across the kitchen floor or SOMEHOW getting into a drawer in the bathroom vanity, to frolic among the backup face creams and hand lotions.

The first one I found in that drawer scared me so badly I initially considered shooting it, but rejected that option as overkill, not to mention worry about the ricochet and the dubious legality of firing a weapon in a house that belongs to an HOA. I believe the official cause of death was pulverization by deodorant can.

I even narrowly avoided disaster when I was doing yoga on my living room carpet and saw a teeny tiny critter scampering along the edge of my yoga mat. Without my glasses on I almost just swatted it, but something told me not to. It turned out to be a miniature scorpion. Whether a late, late middle-aged wives’ tale or not, the tiny ones are reputed to be the worst stingers since they supposedly just fire ALL their toxins at the target while the larger ones are more restrained. That particular scorpion did not live long enough to develop restraint.

So back to the recent losing encounter. I precipitously dropped the roll of paper towels and the scorp fell off on the carpet, where Mr. AG attempted to kill it. It’s not easy to kill a bug on deep-pile carpeting, even if you weigh 178 lbs. (Mr. AG, not me. Yet.) I made Mr. AG kick it from the carpet where it wouldn’t die to the tile where it blew itself up along with 3 of its children. No wait, that was something else. It landed on the nice hard tile where I could grind it into dust. Not that I hold grudges.

Meanwhile, Mr. AG got on the phone to Poison Control where a nice lady asked me if I was having any difficulty breathing. I said “No” and she said, “You probably won’t die from this.” While that might have reassured a less congenitally anxious person, I said, “Define ‘probably.’” She told me that a scorpion sting is actually a puncture wound that should be washed with soap and water. She then asked about my level of pain on a scale from one to ten. At that juncture (or puncture, haha), it was only about a 7, but the neurotoxin had already started to spread up my forefinger to my hand, which I took to be a bad sign.

She then recommended a booster tetanus shot “within the next few days.” Since I was leaving in the early morning on yet another road trip to Minnesota to see Papa, delay was not an option. We set off for our Fairly Urgent Care facility, only about two miles away. By this time, it was about 20 minutes before full sunset and the blazing Arizona sun was right in our eyes such that two reasonably intelligent adults who had each been to this Urgent Care before sailed right by it and promptly got lost. Me, I would expect this to happen, but Mr. AG has a great sense of direction. We developed a new sympathy for baseball players who miss routine flies because they “got lost in the sun.”

Eventually, with the aid of both phone GPS and a call to the facility, it turned out to be about 100 feet from where we were standing. Oy. There were only two patients ahead of us. A sweet young man who could have been Doogie Howser’s kid brother came in and assured me that the “discomfort” from the toxin usually wore off in 6-12 hours. Evidently, the medical profession has done studies in which saying the word “pain” makes suggestible patients believe that something hurts. They love words like “discomfort” and “contraction” in the case of labor pain.

By this time, the discomfort had spread from my hand and up my arm all the way to my elbow. He asked again about the scale from 1 to 10. I said, “Doc, imagine that your skin has been flayed from the tips of your fingers up to your elbow. And then you are bathed in Tabasco Sauce. What number would you assign to that discomfort? Because, I think we’re going to need more than 10.”

Oh, but we’re not really done yet. Because then you have to remember how it feels when your leg falls asleep and when it “thaws” out, it gets all tingly and prickly and sensitive. Yeah, add that sensation in along with the excruciating pain. That lasts for about 36 hours, give or take.

Our dear friends John and Angela and the Paranoid Texan were slated to come over to the patio for our Welcome Back First Gracious Living Fest. Yes, I felt less than festive, but I decided I could be miserable without company or distracted with loved ones around. And alcohol. Angela asked me what pain drugs they had given me and when I told her I had only been offered a tetanus shot, she said, “That’s not the remedy I PERSONALLY would have chosen for severe pain. No mention of Percocet or Vicodin?”

The good news is that the worst of it did pass in about 12-18 hours, although many of those hours occurred during alleged sleep time which was decidedly impaired. All of it ended in 36 hours. The less than good news is that the nurse with the full-sleeve tattoos told me that sometimes people get diarrhea from the tetanus shot. I know people often eat breakfast while reading this column, so I will only say that stopping every 20 minutes will SERIOUSLY affect your ETA on a long trip. Does it sometimes feel to you, too – though you are showered with blessings most of the time – that God is just messin’ with your head?

Bottom line: I had been terrified of being stung. It finally happened. It was not pleasant, but was of short duration and without lasting consequences. I was also told that any repeat episodes did not have cumulative effects. All good to know. Then the Paranoid Texan told me of a woman who had been stung IN THE NOSTRIL!! Extremely ungood. If you must be stung, I highly recommend that you try your best for an extremity.

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