Man, this just isn't my week to work out.
Today I'd planned a nice bike ride from Shepherdstown up the C&O Canal to Williamsport, a distance of roughly 54 miles round trip. I got a late start today but decided to go for it anyway because the temperature is about as low as it's gong to get for at least the nest week, and because I'd heard good things about a pizza place in Williamsport. I figured that I'd ride up, have a pizza and a couple of beers (just to replenish my carbs for energy, of course), then ride back. It seemed like a good plan.
Alas, about 8 miles into the ride, something struck me on the side of the face. I heard and felt a buzzing, and then suddenly the side of my face was on fire. I'd been stung by something.
OK, normally not a big deal, except of course for the fact that I'm allergic to stinging things. Dammit! My choices were simple: Continue the ride and hope that I don't have a reaction, or scratch the ride and seek medical treatment proactively.
On the plus side, I had an epinephrine pen. On the negative side, it was back in my car, eight miles away. (Bonus points if you can guess what's going to be in the pouch of my camelback next ride...)
Well, remembering the last reaction I had about seven year ago, I recalled how it had started out so innocuously that it had taken about an hour and a half by the time that I realized and accepted what was going on, and by then it was getting fairly serious. So I nixed the ride and headed back towards a store that I'd passed about a mile back. (Barron's, a staple for hikers and cyclists on the towpath.) I figured that it made more sense to head there and find a ride back to my car rather than remain on the remote and sparsely-populated tow-path in case things developed.
On the way back to Barron's, I ran into a couple of Park Service volunteers, William "Bud" Cline and his wife, Dell. These two ride back and forth on the towpath on week-ends, assisting people with minor bike repairs and medical needs and acting as eyes and ears for the park rangers. I flagged them down and asked if they could have someone from the Park Service give me a lift back to my car, but when they radioed back and asked, there was no one available in the area. (This is typical of the Park Service...) So the Clines rode back to Barron's with me and when we got there, the new owner, John Tyler, was kind enough to give me a ride back to my car after I fibbed a bit and told him and his wife--a nurse--that I wasn't experiencing any breathing trouble. Fact is, I could already feel the beginnings of some swelling, both in my lips and in the back of my throat, but I didn't want an ambulance at this point, nor did I want to be taken to whatever hospital that they have in those parts. I decided that I could make my own way to Jefferson Memorial in Ranson, especially once I got hold of my epi pen.
So John drove me and my bike back to my vehicle, and I pulled my epi pen out of my ever-present bug-out bag's first aid pocket, set it on the seat beside me, and headed into the hospital, calling them on the phone en route to let them know that I was coming in and why.
On arrival at the hospital, I was third on line to talk to the triage desk nurse, right behind a large woman who wanted to know why she could not bring food up to her friend who was a patient up on the floors, and an old lady who insisted on registering a complaint about the medical helicopters flying too low and noisy over her house. (Seriously! But now I know where she lives, and just wait until I'm aloft with my rental Cessna again...I'll give her "low and noisy".) But the E/R got me right in and evaluated once I got past those two fruitcakes. (The old lady was still complaining to hospital security about the helicopters as I was being taken into the back.)
By this time, it had been about 45 minutes since the sting, and although I had a prominent welt on the side of my face where it had gotten me, the swelling in my lips and throat had already pretty much dissipated. This was just a mild reaction, fortunately, but you can never tell, and I'm sure that had I just kept riding, it would have worsened in direct proportion to the solitude and inaccessibility of my location on the tow path. Better safe than sorry.
So my planned 54 mile ride turned into a nine mile ride, hardly worth the maintenance I'd done on the bike this morning in preparation, but I did at least get a consolation pizza on the way home from the hospital to make me feel better about the steroid shot that I got in my arm--a shot that burned worse than the sting itself.
Oh well...I guess I'll just take Murphy swimming now...after I drink this "medicinal" beer.