I had never been stung by a bee in my life. When I was at Camp Royaneh as a scout, I was bit by a yellow jacket while playing Indian field hockey. It hurt, but there was no allergic reaction.
In front of our house we had what we kids called the Bee Tree. I have no idea what type of tree it was. The tree was no more than five or six feet tall. It had leathery leaves and small green, purple berries. It would blossom in the spring and attract a lot of bees. But it seemed that there were always bees on that tree regardless of the season.
We knew we were risking a lot if we stood or played by that tree. If we felt brave, we would walk up to the tree and test the fates. But rarely did we feel that brave. You only tested the fates once then you quickly realized that the fates were easily angered.
Still, even with the Bee Tree in our yard for all those years, I was never stung. Well, at least not by a live bee. Who would have thought a dead bee would be my undoing.
The Bee Tree was by the curb and close to the street. Underneath the Bee Tree and along the street we had square planter boxes and were supposed to be filled with bushes to enhance the look of our yard. As our family was not very green-thumbed, rather than hosting plants, those planter boxes were simply dirt. And when it rained, that dirt turned to mud.
In the summer, when school was out and we were free to do nothing all day, we spent most of our time outside. Mom had strict rules about TV so we couldn't spend our days using that mode of entertainment. When it was warm and we were not playing ball in the street, we went bare foot.
One day I was testing the fates and playing by the Bee Tree. I wasn't too close, but I was feeling quite brave that day. To this day, I can still feel those small berries that fell from the tree squishing under my bare feet. Then came a small, sharp pain. I had stepped on enough pins and thorns to know that something sharp had penetrated the bottom of my foot.
I lifted my foot to see what I had stepped on. There, amidst the fallen berries was a dead bee. I had stepped on the carcass of a dead be and the stinger was now lodged in my foot. I sat on the ground and pulled out the stinger.
Then, for some reason, I remembered my favorite TV show, Little House on the Prairie, where Ma and Pa Ingles told the girls if they got stung by a bee they should cover the injured body part with mud. I was secretly in love with Laura Ingles so if mud was good enough for her, it was good enough for me.
(I just did little research and verified that mud can be an effective way to ease the pain of a bee sting. But we didn't have Google in those days. Instead, we got our information from Little House on the Prairie. I can’t imagine life without Google. I did get over Laura Ingles.)
Luckily, one of our planter boxes had some mud in it. So I put my ailing foot in the mud and it started to feel better. Will I doubt I really felt better? I think just having the mud oozing between my toes helped me to forget the pain. Plus I as now connected to Laura Ingles. My bee sting was covered in mud.
I thought all was well and had no intention of telling Mom I had stepped on a dead bee. Three days later, my foot started to swell and once again, I had a thin red line creeping up my ankle towards my heart. I knew that meant. I had blood poisoning.
So, I had to tell Mom. We had to go to Dr. Wood. But this time there was no minor surgery as with my nail incident. I simply had to take some antibiotic for a few days and keep my foot elevated.
Now it worried me to keep my foot elevated because it seemed to me that an elevated foot would only speed up the process of the poison going from my foot to my heart.
But, I listen to the doctor, elevated my foot and took my medicine. I had no ill effects. So, was it the mud, was it the bee, or was the juice from the berries that were squished on the bottom of my foot? I have no idea. But I still trust Ma and Pa Ingles.