Ah yes, the infamous EpiPen. During the summer of 82 I think it was, my lady and I lived in a two bedroom co-op facing Central Park West. 12B.
I often opened the window without a screen. One morning, seated at my desk, trading silver or soybeans or some other such foolishness, I felt a burning in my left bicep. I was engrossed in a trade tho and thought little of it. About 15 minutes later I looked down at my RIGHT thigh. It was swollen to almost the size of my waist! THAT scared the shit out of me! I immediately went to the emergency room and was told this was an allergic reaction to an insect sting. I have considerable scars from war and a long one on my right thigh. I was told reactions often occurred in body areas of weakness…and had it gone instead to my throat, I would by then have asphyxiated. Thus began the Summer of my Discontent.
Across the park from me was Mt Sinai Hospital with immunology expertise. For the next six weeks I would arise early on Thursday, walk across the park and have my right arm turned into a shooting gallery. The scientific theory was to build up my immunity and perhaps save my life. We soon determined that I was deadly allergic to wasps, hornets, yellow jackets and bees. I’d been stung a few time when younger and I was told this was not unusual, some people develop allergies later in life.
These injections burned and itched and swelled and made me pretty cranky. I had yet to be diagnosed with PTSD…and this wasn’t helping. By the fourth week, I learned my scientists were not particularly scientific. “What did we give you last week? Was it 1/4 or 1/2? The fuck would I know? Don’t you write that shit down?
By week five I awoke on Thursday morning in tears, knowing what I had awaiting me. In week six, the question was asked again, “What was it we gave you last week?” I was done. I told them to clean up their procedures and I walked out of that ward for the last time. I’d decided I’d take my chances in life; God knows I’d already accepted those kinds of risks. I could have afforded such exorbitant prices but I damn sure would have been resentful. As it was, mine were free. Good SAG coverage.
For years afterwards, I carried an EpiPen, just in case…plus Benadryl capsules for the golf course. Ever notice how many yellow jackets flock to trash cans with beer and soda bottles? I was stung one day in the 90′s by a bee. I was scared shitless. There was some swelling but that was the extent of it.
This photo is of my final Epipen purchase; it expired in 2002. I should probably replace my Benadryl caps, they’re pretty old as well. I stay alert and try reeeeal hard not to piss off flying insects. But if I’m around you and I see one, you’ll understand if I become seriously pro-active. I will knock those suckers out of the sky with a head cover. So far….