Driving in the smog-ridden air of Los Angeles day-in and day-out, I take advantage whenever I get a load out of the area and above the Cajon Pass that gets me into the fresh desert or mountain air I grew up in. This is where you can usually catch me sailing down the highway with my windows and vents wide open, enjoying some fresh air. As relaxing as the drive may be while taking in the air and scenery, it happens once in a while at that exact “Zen” moment, that I let my guard down and I have something happen like what recently happened again to me.
As the cool air fed into the cab on my way down the highway through the California High Desert on my way to Lancaster, I enjoyed the pure scent of sage coming in my truck. At least that was the picturesque scenario until I felt a piercing stinging sensation on my arm that was perched hanging out the window on my armrest. As I quickly looked down to see what was causing the pain, I saw a stinger in the top of my arm, absent of the bee that it was attached to up until that point. Not wanting to panic about the situation and knowing I could not just rip the stinger out, I proceeded to find a safe place to pull over to better handle the situation.
Oddly enough, this was not the first time this has happened to me, but rather the third! This has made me somewhat normalized as to what I should do when this happens should I be driving at the time. The best thing to do when stung and driving is to first get off the roadway to park in a safe location as soon as possible. If you know of any bee sting allergy that may cause you anaphylaxis, call 911 as soon as you get parked and await professional medical help. If you know of this allergy, it may be a good idea to carry a prescribed epinephrine injection pen for such occasions. If there are no allergies, be sure not to just pull out the stinger with your fingers, which is probably natural instinct for many.
When a bee stings you, its stinger comes out and on the end of it is a venom gland. Trying to remove the stinger by pulling it out will squeeze this gland and release the venom into your body. The best recommended method is to flick it off from the side with a credit card, ID card, etc. Once the stinger is out, put something cold on it to help relieve some of the discomfort and possible swelling. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be taken for pain and antihistamine, such as Benadryl, can be taken to relieve itchiness. Some natural remedies can be had as well, such as applying a paste of baking soda and water. Another weird, yet true remedy is unflavored meat tenderizer, which contains a compound that breaks down the reactive elements of the bee venom. It is no laughing matter when you are at the controls of a truck and get stung, but remember to stay calm and take care of it as soon as you safely can do so.