I was stung by a bee last Friday. Walking barefoot in my bathroom, suddenly there was a cutting pain on the inside of my left foot, just above the arch. I wondered why there was a piece of jagged glass on the bathmat. Looking down at the site, there was a small bee, struggling and anchored to my foot. I flipped him off and hoisted my foot up to the bathroom sink. The stinger was sticking out and I managed to pull that out very cleanly.

Last time a bee strung me was about 25 years ago, in Australia. On the tip of my finger as I climbed out of a swimming pool. It didn’t feel too bad, it was barely in there. Within half an hour I was unable to bend my fingers, my face was swollen and I was clearing my throat constantly.

We drove quickly to the nearby doctor’s surgery where my mother was working that day. One glimpse at her now very swollen oldest daughter and she had me into the doctor who plunged a needle into my arm, then another and I began to go down. (Like a balloon with a slow leak, not flying about the room squealing.) I slept for twelve hours as soon as I was back home.

Needless to say I have been very respectful of bees every since. I used to carry various pills and kits, then kept them in my house, and eventually just lost sight of them all together. Although I was no longer downright terrified of bees I was always hyper-aware of their presence, endeavoring to stay clear of them and encouraging them to stay clear of me.

So when in Arizona, 2 weeks after I had moved to the new abode, I found myself after 25 years once again on the sharp end of a bee, there was a moment of very focused thought.

Just the night before I had been telling my new life partner about this rather severe allergy. This conversation was prompted by the fact that this year’s very mild AZ winter seems to have allowed the bees much more roaming and wandering time that one might expect. Thus when I have the door open schlepping boxes in and out, basking in the beauty of this gorgeous weather, letting in the glorious soft sun and breeze, so I also let in the bees.

These are very mild mannered bees, cruising in through the door, making their way to the window over the sink, then sticking there, trapped by the screen, crawling about until they fall exhausted into the sink and die. I have become quite comfortable with them, shepherding them back to the doorway if possible, catching them in a tissue of they stray to the bedroom, removing their little bodies from the sink when they were finally still.

Outside I amalmost as calm. I don’t flail about. I let other people assist with moving them on, and mostly just visualize the bees NOT being here as opposed to drawing them to me with in a sweating anxiety.

The day one stuck itself to my foot (it was invisible in the plush green bathroom mat) I was shaving my legs. I am sure it was in as much pain and surprise as I was – more so perhaps, as a part of its body had been ripped out.

I made a choice. I decided to finish the leg I was working on, and so put my foot back down and ran the razor up the back of my leg as I had been about to do when assailed by that piercing pain. It didn’t take long. The action was less about shaving my leg and more about reminding myself not to Panic, to be in control of my actions rather than letting fear drive me.

I also used that (short) time to consider my options. And remembered Bi-Carb soda. It was a start. The initial pain had subsided, it didn’t seem to be swelling. No need to call the doctor yet and who to call? (In our conversation we had not actually made it to that detail – just, ‘We should have a plan.’)

Into the kitchen, and out with the bi-carb. (It was deodorizing the meat keeper). A white  paste stuck onto the 2 pronged wound. (Close inspection of where to exactly adhere the bi-carb revealed that it seemed my friend had managed to piece me twice. Although perhaps there were two bees?)

It felt ok. Back to bathroom and the other leg shaved. Still felt pretty good. We were heading out that afternoon to an early evening outdoor event (a bridge pre-opening.) I hoped that I’d be able to walk about in the shoes I had chosen. Well, that I’d be able to walk at all.

My sweetie arrived home. Quick Version Bee Story recounted as we prepared to prepare to leave. (We had a self imposed deadline for departure. The traffic into Scottsdale can be pretty intense on a Friday evening!) He vanished out into the RV, leaving me to start on applying makeup. This doesn’t happen often and thus requires some time to accomplish.

He was back very quickly with the powdered Goldenseal. Another poultice. Perfect. There was no swelling, the two little red marks had faded, and this thick black/yellow goo stuck to its site with tenacity. Cover with the band-aide, on with the rest of the clothes, and of we go.

It was a beautiful evening and I didn’t think about my foot at all. Since then? A few times it has suddenly itched like an old memory that surfaces to annoy and demand attention. That is all.

I don’t know if these bees are pallid compared to the Australian ones or if it was just too far from the blood supply or not enough venom made it into my system. Or, maybe I am no longer allergic to bees.

That is the really interesting thought to me. It may be that my physiology has changed. It may also be the years of both accidental and deliberate personal change and evolution which includes a more conscious connection between body, mind and spirit has paid off in this way.

I had only been aware of bees when they were in my immediate vicinity, or stung me and I had a reaction (culminating in that terrible day when I almost stopped breathing.) I was then frightened and lived with anxiety of what Might Happen. Over time I began to stay in the present. Today I am quietly attentive, and so chose to respond rather than react when the moment of truth arrived.

By calming my mind and slowing my body down, I was able to think, make choices and treat the site. More so, I believe, because I had not been engaged in warfare with the bees over the last few days, but simply included them in the/my universe, there was no built up antagonism with those associated poisons. Spiritually the bees were not something to annihilate, but rather were an aspect of the life and place in which I was choosing to live.

I look back at my journey over the last 25 years, and see last Friday’s beesting as a marker of the change within. How often do we change and not know it? How often do we evolve and deepen our understanding of Self and the Universe in which we live and not have the opportunity to note it?

For me, this bee (or was it two?) gave me the perfect occasion to respond without effort or even conscious choice. That path has become part of how I live in the world now. And this time to reflect, gives the additional gift of noting that journey, recognizing the work and savoring the strength found.

It also serves a sharp (!) reminder to stay on the path, to honor the connection between body, mind and spirit. Perhaps most of all, to remember that there will always be challenges and we have the personal power to choose for ourselves the way in which we will live – in fear or in Power. (see Blog:  Compromise: Habit or Choice? Fearful or Powerful? )

So, when the itch returns or when I next see a bee pass by, I will take a moment to acknowledge all that it means to me. I will give thanks for the bee, the reminder of my evolution and the journey that is my life.

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