Three years ago, I got the bright idea to start a blog. I wanted to learn more about this thing called “blogging” and thought it would be a great way to keep up with all the crazy kids in cyberspace. Aside from not knowing how to function as a “blogger”, I also felt that my writing skills were below par and a blog would force me to write more better (hee). At the same time, I could no longer ignore “wiener” flashing politicians, my own unfortunate yet comical incidents, and the unbelievable amount of ignorance and lunacy in the world without making fun of it in script. Which has brought me to my anniversary blog entry for 2011. Circumstances of a painful summer three years ago, similar to this summer’s painful experience, give me something to celebrate (or commemorate) in this anniversary addition regarding Stingrays and poison ivy-a revisit..
As some people have heard, because word travels fast around my mother, I was stung by a stingray in the Gulf of Mexico over the Memorial Day weekend. Let’s take a moment here to thank all of our soldiers, past and present, who have served for our country. Now back to our regular blog – it was the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced in my life. No mistaken, it was a stingray, and if not, it was an invisible shark with a pair of scissors that stabbed me in the top of my foot!! There were NO jelly fish, and the last time I read about manatees, I learned they are non-aggressive herbivores.
The water was very clear. Unfortunately, I failed to look down and check the sand before stepping on a stingray. After getting back to the hotel with a bloody foot that swelled up like a balloon, I had to sit there and put up with a 21 year old cabana boy talking me down from hyper ventilating as he forced me to soak my foot in scalding hot water. Only an hour and a half later, he was making fun of me when he realized I was not going to die from an allergic reaction. I should have taken his bucket of hot water and placed it over his head. Did I say that out loud? This was after I was exhausted from trying to swim back to the beach, and my brother dragging me in like I was a beached whale. My younger brother, who was witnessing this unfold, commented on the lack of first aid skills. Fortunately, neither brother did not pee on my foot, and my third brother was not present to make a comedy act out of it. It was humiliating enough that my horrible scream from the water had apparently cleared the beach.
I am now going on my almost one month since the incident. After one tetanus shot, x-rays, and three doctor visits, the swelling has gone down and some of the pain is gone. My foot is starting to feel like a foot again. During the ordeal, I was trying to find a cure and spent hours searching information on stingray stings. I was one step away from calling my grandmother’s doctor in Florida for help, since I live five states away, and the worst thing they see here are seasonal allergies and gun shot wounds. I managed to learn a lot about stingrays and not how to overcome a sting.
Stingrays are cartilaginous fishes related to sharks. See, I told you! There are multiple families of stingrays, and most have one or more barbs on the end of their tails used as a self-defense mechanism. See picture below from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sting_ray. Their barbs are
covered in a sheath which holds venom. I had no idea stingrays actually had venom. Yes, I already know the Crocodile Hunter, Steve whatever his name is, died from being stung by a stingray. He was a lunatic and an exception. Stingrays actually conceal themselves from prey by hiding in the sand. These beady-eyed shark wanna-be’s use smell and electro-receptors to find their prey, just like a shark. They usually feed on crustaceans and mollusks and the occasional human foot. They also carry a pair of scissors. (Just checking to see if you are still reading). When stingrays sting with their barb, it introduces venom. Between the barb piercing your skin and the electric shock of venom being introduced at a high rate of speed, the person experiences intense pain, swelling, muscle cramps, etc. If you are not allergic to the venom, then you basically suffer horrible pain until the venom breaks down. Since it is a protein-based venom, almost scalding hot water will break it down faster.
Rewind to three summers earlier and my battle against poison ivy. I am apparently very allergic to poison ivy and not stingray venom, thank God. In 2008, while at an outdoor concert in Zilker Park, Austin, Texas, I decided to pee in the bushes with my friend, who is NOT allergic to poison ivy. Of course, it was late, many beers later, dark, and a long walk to the car. The poison ivy was hiding in the bushes where I squatted. I fought the poison ivy all summer with steroids, acupuncture, herbal concoctions, gels, pastes, more steroids, more acupuncture, gels and paste, and finally a lot of complaining.
Which brings me to my previous list of things to avoid, especially in the summertime, and how to avoid them:
Always heed warning signs on the beach, for example, shuffle your feet or throw rocks in the water if there are stingrays present until there is a cure or anti-venom. Pain killers do not work!
Never drink in an open public park with all of your friends where weeds are not well maintained.
Never, ever let your friends persuade you to urinate in unmaintained weeds in an open public park when drunk, especially if you are a girl!
Never let anyone urinate on an open wound from a sting on a public beach.
BONUS (for the upcoming 4th of July weekend):
Never stand close to anyone with fireworks who says, “Hey! Watch this!”