Sunday, September 06, 2009

It freezes. It burns.

It twinges, stabs, sears and does the “pins and needles” thing too. A scorpion sting, that is.

Last week, after 13 years of bush living, I experienced my very first scorpion sting (not from the one pictured above). It happened while I was busy grabbing wood to make a fire in our donkey

which is a non-electric, non-gas, hot water geyser we use in the bush. There's a metal drum inside there which you can't see.

Anyway, when I picked up the 3rd piece of wood—zap! Initially I thought I had a nasty splinter. But when I pulled my hand away I could find no splinter, just a small, painful pin prick at the end of my little finger. My first thought was “Ooouuuuuch!” and my 2nd thought was “scorpion”! I searched to see if I could find him, but he must have retreated beneath the loose bark because I could see nothing. I beat the small log on our sidewalk, even threw it down. All that fell out was dirt.

To my knowledge scorpion stings in our area are not fatal, so I set about treating myself. We do a lot of self-treatment out here. I’ve read about and heard lots of advice for scorpion stings…like:

#1. “Put ice on it immediately.”
To be effective, this must be done within seconds of the sting. Not after you’ve first examined your finger to make sure there weren’t two puncture wounds* then banged the wood repeatedly for 3-5 minutes to search for the miserable little critter who’s tucked very safely away, then flung the wood into the fire in a final act of vengeance. Actually, Dwight did that for me. (*Two puncture holes would have raised the fang mark, aka snake bite, alert…also a very real possibility). Anyway, I missed the small window of opportunity of immediate icing, by a long shot.

#2. “Dip the bite in gasoline, it’ll draw the pain out immediately.”
Ok, I heard this many years ago and it swifly came to mind. I doubt you’ll find this treatment suggested in medical literature, though I don’t think it would do serious harm either so long as you didn’t stand beside the donkey fire to do it. Either way, I had no gasoline on hand. Pass.

#3. “Wash well with soap and water.”
Check. (Because medical people wash everything with soap and water.)

#4. “Administer an antihistamine—orally (pill) or topically (salve)”.

(One day, when I have an office, I won’t have to store meds in the kitchen with my baking utensils ☺)

Check. Two outta 3 ain’t bad. But by this time, it was (to use the local term) “paining me” quite badly.

#4. “Inject local anesthetic into bite area, if needed, to control pain.” AAaaagghhh...wha-a-a-a-at?! That would be like a double sting and would “pain” very VERY badly. I cringed at the thought and realized that my sting must be quite mild compared to others. Pass.

For about 4 days, my pinkie “pained”, as described at the top of this post, and was useless to the rest of my hand. Thankfully, now at day 7, just a bit of numbness remains. And I'm alive. :)

Moving along, I’m pleased to say that Dwight finally arrived home Saturday night, quite tired though from his travels. (Click here to read his updated blog post.) Between unpacking and, sadly, being called on by a local family to transport the body of a loved one who passed away, his Sunday wasn’t particularly relaxing. (And then there was the scorpion sting thing :P) I’m also sad to say that the very sick mommy of the tiny baby (previous post) died last week as well. We will trust for the best for the little one in her granny’s care.

Monday and Tuesday were a flurry of activity following up on stuff and problem solving. Socorrista Ernesto and I made a few widow/orphan home health visits. Here is a photo of Mae Farese, with her daughter who is blind (and friends), in front of their new home.

(When construction was just beginning. Living hut in background.)

Her leg is now better and she’s able to get around on her crutches again. Yay. They’re pretty anxious to get moved in. Just waiting on windows and doors.

On Wednesday, it was time for Dwight and I to pack yet again for a very short trip to South Africa to have vehicle maintenance done, computer’s repaired, saws sharpened, office supplies purchased, dr’s & dentist visits, construction supplies picked up, mail box checked etc.

On our way down, we came across some brush fires. It’s that season again.

We stopped for a few photos and I noticed some beautiful Lilac-Breasted Rollers darting across, up and down and on and off the road.

At first I thought it was because their nests were being burned (also a possibility) but then I noticed they were actually catching insects scurrying across the highway to escape the fire. I remember now that these birds, like many others, eat scorpions once they’ve beaten them around for awhile in their beaks to kill them (who wants to get stung in the mouth??).

You go bird!

(above photo at


Penny said...

I read this post aloud to my family and they were all very interested in the scorpion bite story! Glad you're feeling better.

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ruth said...

Pretty birdies. Ugly scorpion. Hope your finger feels better soon!
Love you:)

Amanda said...

Wow, at first I thought you'd taken that picture of the bird eating the scorpion! Too bad.
I'm glad you survived your scorpion sting and that it's doing better :).