Of Stings & (ham)Strings

A¬†funny thing happened at work around 6:00 in the morning…I got stung by a wasp on the inside of my right upper arm. So that wasn’t exactly funny, except that being a barista doesn’t typically come with the risk of insect stings. It has been a very long time since I was last stung, as in my last sting was when I was young enough to forget all about it, even though I had a severe allergic reaction. Or perhaps I forgot because of the reaction!

Despite the allergy, I went through most of my life without further stings and without carrying an Epi-pen. When I was still a runner, I decided that I should probably carry an Epi-pen, because I ran by myself and sometimes encountered wasps and bees along the way. I never needed to use my safety net, and eventually my doctor hooked me up with testing to see if I was even still allergic. Two or three years ago I had a multitude of scratches inflicted all over my forearm to see if I was allergic to all varieties of flying, stinging insects. The result was that I was fine. Sometimes you can outgrow an allergy. Today I was glad that I was no longer allergic. My co-worker was also glad! But gosh darn it, does my arm ever hurt! Even now nearly 12 hours later, that spot on my arm is literally¬†stinging with pain. Okay, so I’ve certainly experienced more painful things in my life, but why does a tiny little pest need to cause so much pain? Had I known that the wasp was crawling around on my shirt, I would have just brushed it off and gone on with my day. Instead, I had no idea it was on me until it stung me, and then I brushed it off and crushed it beneath my foot. I don’t even feel bad about that.

A sting, a crazy work day, and then a training session at the gym…

1. competition bench press (2-2×0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8, 85 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 7, 95 x 7, 95 x 7

2. competition squats (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 7

main event: 135 lbs x 7, 135 x 7, 135 x 7

Today I had to focus on keeping the bar properly positioned over midfoot. I think the bar path was better than earlier in the week.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

95 lbs x 7, 95 x 6, 95 x 6

I’m not going to lie, but these felt a little tough after the fourth rep.

4a. back extensions 12-15 reps

x 12, x 13

4b. leg raises 12-15 reps

x 15, x 15

Somehow these last two exercises are always the most challenging. It’s not that they are particularly difficult…they just suck. I’ve been doing stiff-legged deadlifts every week on day 2 for the past 7 weeks, which means that my hamstrings are sore by the time I get to day 3, which means that the back extensions take that hamstring soreness and inflict more pain. Each set starts out feeling easy, but that is a complete lie. The leg raises have been challenging because of my lower back issues; however, as the back has been improving, the discomfort in doing the leg raises has decreased. To a degree. Still, I’d rather be squatting…




As the allergist made a point of saying to me this morning, for today I am not allergic to insect stings. My risk of an allergic reaction is the same as any person who has never been stung before. Of course, the doctor said “for today” because situations can change, especially if I were to get stung more than once. But the good news is that I do not need to carry an Epi-pen, although I may as well keep the ones I currently have until they expire.

The process was time-consuming but relatively simple. There were three stages of testing with a 15 minute waiting period after each. The first was a scratch test, while the other two were small injections right beneath the skin. The scratch test covered 6 things: honey bee, wasp, yellow jacket, hornet, saline, and histamine. The saline and histamine were controls to ensure that my body was reacting the way it should. The only reaction I had for that test was with the histamine, and that is completely normal and expected.

The second phase began the small injections in a smaller concentration. They tested the same four insects and the saline this time. Waited. No reactions.

The final phase of injections was with a slightly larger concentration of venom, but this time they only tested the insects. No saline. More waiting. The wasp site was a little more red than any of the others, but there was no hive or other sign of a reaction. The redness is all gone now, but I am still sporting little dots across my inner forearm. I could play connect-the-dots!

The doctor also mentioned that I may no longer be allergic to penicillin. Like insect sting allergies, there is a good chance you may have outgrown an allergy to penicillin if you haven’t had penicillin for 10-15 years. Unfortunately, they do not test for a penicillin allergy for the “future”. The only way to test that would be for my doctor to be brave and have me “challenge” the allergy when I have some infection requiring penicillin. Since I so rarely require medication of any sort, I guess I will continue to live with the assumption that I am allergic to penicillin. It just seems easier that way.