Insects put the sting into July 4 celebration

It was war. On July 4, no less. So much for independence.

“This is the worst season ever,” Dr. James Scheer said, when I called. “It’s like the sharks.”

Apparently, I was the umpteenth person to call in that day with a wasp or a bee sting. It seemed we were having an inland version of battles between the animal and the human world at the beach.

In my case, due to two previous allergic reactions to such stimuli, I have almost made it to the endangered human list. The last time I came in with my right arm bright red and swollen to about twice its usual size from a wasp sting, the good doctor told me to be careful if it should happen again.

Yeah, it happened again. Same arm, same location.

I think that the first wasp told his offspring about me. “Get her in the right upper arm when she’s not looking,” he said. “That’ll teach her to wear short sleeves while watering the plants. Ha!”

I had it more or less in my head for quick retrieval, though I asked my husband, Ralf, to check online if I was remembering right. Difficulty breathing? Constriction around the throat? Head to the emergency room post haste.

Doctor and I spent a few minutes chatting about the symptoms, the need to go to a pharmacy or the emergency room, and the stinging war on humanity being waged all around Cabarrus County.

“My neighbor just walked in and asked me to look at his leg,” Scheer said. “Sorry about the ‘Shrek’ song in the background.”

Clearly, his day off wasn’t working out so well.

Off to the pharmacy. On the way, I joked with Ralf, who was doing the driving.

“Throat constricted? Not yet. I am obviously A-OK. I can still talk.”

Ralf focused. It had begun to rain.

Remembering the classic scene from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” where those who have expired from the Black Death are trundled onto carts, I thought of the old dude who protested. I pitched my voice high.

“I’m not dead yet!”

I looked over at my husband’s face. He was not smiling.

“Not helping, am I?” I asked.

“No, this is not helping,” he said. “But go on if it’s helping you, of course.”

“Sorry,” I said.

We got to the pharmacy. I got the wasp sting because I figured that the plants I have been trying to save over the past awful weeks of heat were going to go thirsty again. I watered without reason or sense. I got stung for it. That really did not feel good on multiple levels.

We ran through the rain. The pharmacy, however, was closed.

Insects are clever. Choosing a holiday to go on a rampage is a good tactic.

We were told we can go to one that is open and were reassured that the pharmacists there would be able to access the doctor’s call-in prescription.

We arrived at the other pharmacy, but they didn’t have the prescription.

“Did he call it in?” we were asked. Because if that’s the case, they can’t access the information. His call-in will be on their answering service. No one will hear it until that location opens again. We call the doctor again. Ralf starts to hand over his phone to the pharmacist so Dr. Scheer can give them the prescription.

“Sorry, sir, he has to call us on our line.”

While all that is happening, we sit on the chairs nearby.

“S’OK, honey,” I said. “I’m not having any trouble breathing. Yet.”

I look at his face. He looks stricken.


Eventually we get the medication, but only after I have had to page through the sort of magazine I never read because there aren’t enough words on the pages to bother about. Just pictures of people who are famous. I do not recognize any of them.

I pop the first doses in the car.

War broke out on July 4 in Cabarrus County. But I am now on steroids. We can win this thing.

Barbara Thiede is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Barbara? Email her at