Anaphylactic Shock A Personal Experience
About a year ago, David Riley, the youngest member of the committee of the South Cheshire branch, got stung very badly, with the result that he suffered anaphylactic shock. This is a shock in other ways too,and quite understandably, David decided to withdraw from beekeeping for a while, resigning from the committee. However, he was determined to have treatment for the allergic reaction, and has kindly sent in this account of his experiences, which I think will be of general interest. I am very glad to be able to report that he attended the last meeting of the South Cheshire Branch—and did not get stung! (Ed.)
I went to see some bees at one of the out apiaries last year, towards autumn time, and whilst doing the bees, it went very thundery. I started to get stung on the legs, and up my trousers, as I didn't have my wellies on. I walked away from the hives, and continued to get stung. I had to go back to the hives to close up, and then started to feel ill: intense pain in my ears (I found out later that this was due to the pressure from the swelling) - and I mean intense! I started to drive home, thinking I was feeling worse and worse, and I had better get home before I felt too rough. My mate started to get a bit worried after I had driven about 15 miles, as my face was swelling up, and I was red all over. I told my mate, “You’d better drive the rest of the way.” but we just sat in the car on the car-park for a while. He decided it was time to call 999 when I started to feel sleepy and couldn't breathe too easily. The first responder came, and then the ambulance came a while after - good job for the first responder! I was raced to hospital with the sirens going, and had treatment for a couple of hours in the resuscitation unit. I never passed out though.
A couple of days later, I went to my GP, requesting some epipens, which they sorted out for me there and then.
On contacting Bob Parsonage and Sue Bailey to come off the committee, I was told about desensitization. So I went back to my GP to ask to be referred for treatment, only to be told it was a waste of time, and he wouldn't refer me. I then paid to have some tests on private healthcare, and was told the reason the GP wouldn't refer me. I was told that, under the NHS funding, there are only a couple of hospitals in this area that offer this treatment (Birmingham and Manchester Royal Infirmary), so GPs have been trained not to refer people as the NHS, could not cope with the referrals if it was done all of the time. A bit of a swindle in my mind, so I went back to the GP, to demand I was referred. After a while of arguing with him, and me getting a little verbally forceful, he had little choice, and referred me! This referral did take a while though, and you could tell they were still trying to worm out of it: there were many phone calls each day until it finally got underway.
I received a letter stating that I was on the waiting list, but they were not sure how long it would take for the treatment to commence. Wait I did, and suddenly, “Can you come to the hospital in Manchester for tests?” I did so, even though I had had similar tests privately. I waited for the results, and then a while longer, and then my treatment commenced. There are a number of patients in the clinic with allergies to bee- and wasp-stings.
The treatment is prolonged. I have been to Manchester every Thursday for the last 15 weeks for injections of bee venom, starting at a very small amount, and increasing each week until last Thursday I had one sting’s worth of venom. I now have to have maintenance jabs, the first is in two weeks, then three weeks after that, and then every month for a couple of years. You have to have the injection, and then wait in the hospital for any sign of a reaction for a period of about an hour, longer if there is swelling etc. After this, I should have a good chance of having no reaction or little reaction to one sting, but they have never tested it on more than one sting, so I may be the guinea pig for that. If I have one sting, I will just have to walk away. Maybe, as time goes on and confidence grows, this may change, I will still have my epipens in my bee box just in case.
I haven't really been back to the bees, bar a couple of times, since my reaction. Now I have reached one sting’s worth of venom, I will be coming back to the bees slowly from now on. Obviously not by myself for a while, and always suited up: gloves and wellies etc.
I would like to add this is just my opinion and perception of things, based on what has happened to me.
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