Monday, December 12, 2011

Stinging other People

As I was falling asleep last night, I realized that I had forgotten to include something very important on my last entry.  While I was on Ocracoke, I stung two other people!!!

There *is* a bit of safety protocol that I skipped over, of which doubtless my friends at the AAS would disapprove, and that is the test sting.  Before stinging a new patient, an apitherapist is supposed to deliver a quick sting on the back of the wrist and remove it immediately.  Then you wait 10-20 minutes to make sure that no adverse reaction develops.  After that, you can proceed.  I just asked them if they had been stung by a bee before and were they sure that they weren't allergic.  They both said no, they'd been stung many times as children and they were not allergic.  I warned them that they would swell and itch for a few days, as they aren't acclimated to the venom, but that would go away.

My aunt Kathleen, an extremely talented metalsmith and jewelry designer,  has arthritis in the fore-knuckle of her right index finger.  Her shop, incidentally, is the house where I lived when I was a brand new person, except that it was red and white back in '78.

As an artist,  I've really been influenced by her very organic aesthetic.  At that time, her studio was in her house, and she had the most beautiful stones, metals, bones, glass, etc.    Here's my favorite piece that she's ever made.  It's called "Toy for a Child of Doom".

Leslie and I were having lunch at Jason's, where we ran into Kathleen, and she asked me to come by her shop the next day and sting her.  We did a quick sting on her finger--didn't leave the stinger in for too long since fingers can be such a sensitive place.  There are LOTS of nerve endings there.  The only place I think is worse is the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and toes.  Toes are TERRIBLE.  Last time I did my toes, I had intermittent involuntary kicking spasms for about 30 minutes.

The second person was a lady named Margarita who helps my grandmother sometimes.  She was actually familiar with bee stinging as medicine, because her father had arthritis in his elbow.  She told me that when he would find a bee, he would catch it, place it on his elbow, sting.

Margarita is from Mexico, which is relevant, because I think that in Mexico, using BVT is a common folk remedy. Samuel told me about a friend of his who works for an apiary that employs lots of Mexicans, and each day, before beginning work, they estimate the physical difficulty of the labor.   Based on that, they decide how many bees to use, and they sting each other on the back, like a little pre-emptive steroid.

Like her father,  Margarita was having elbow issues, although in her case, it is tennis elbow, not arthritis.  I had offered to sting her earlier, but she had declined.  However, as I was packing my car to head back to Raleigh, she asked me if I would sting her.

Talk about a champ.  When I stung her, she didn't even flinch.  Her expression never changed.  She never sucked in her breath, grimaced, anything.  I had to ask her if it hurt, to which she replied yes, but I was impressed.

Aunt Kathleen says that her finger is better!  I don't know how my other "patient" is faring though.  I'll have to ask Granny next time I call.

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