Sometime in November 2019, while I was sound asleep, an insect either stung me or bit me on my left leg. I did not feel it. On the following day, I felt something itch, so I looked at the spot and I saw pieces of the skin lifted up as if the insect was trying to eat off my skin. I didn’t pay it much mind, so I threw some alcohol on it and forgot all about the incident. About 8 or 10 days later, I looked at the spot, and it was an inch-and-a-half black circle. I got worried and went to see the doctor at the Corozal Community Clinic. When she saw the wound, she asked me, “Why is it like that?” I told her, “I don’t know.”
She got up from her desk and asked me to follow her, which I did. The doctor guided me to a nurse guard (dressing room), where she and another doctor performed a small surgery on the wound. When she cut off the surface of the skin, the flesh that was underneath was dead. Quickly and skillfully, she injected the incision twice and continued cutting deeper, probably three and a half inches deep, whereby she added another couple of injections and continued cutting until all the dead flesh and poison was removed. I said to her, “It seems that I was lucky, because I saved my left leg.” She replied, “Do not sing victory as yet.” The incision was thereafter properly cleansed and the nurse put an ointment on it and covered it. After the passing of time, fortunately, the wound healed perfectly. However, I began using a walking stick up until this day. The insect was a spider known as the Black Widow, which has a venom that is 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake.
Today, I am 78 years old and will complete 79 on January 18, 2023. My health condition for many, many years, has always been affected by an irregular heartbeat, chest angina and hypertension. I am a walking dead. On the 25th of October, 2022, at approximately 5:00 p.m., about 150 feet from my house, I was attacked by a swarm of African bees. I had never had any experience with bees before, so this was my first time. Instinctively, I started killing them. These African bees attacked my head, face, and of course, since I was using my hands to kill them, they attacked my hands too. I had to remove my glasses because the bees wanted to enter and sting my eyes. They also entered my nostrils and ears, but I took them out. After a while, I began to get tired, so I removed the schoolbag that was on my back, which was filled with groceries. I would say that it was probably 15-20 minutes later that I started yelling for help. I don’t know if anyone had heard me, but I continued killing them. I was unaware at the time that the scent that they left behind as I killed them would cause more bees to attack me. The bees were consistent in their attacks, but as they stung, I killed. After a period of time, I began getting more tired. In order to restore some strength, I decided to lie down on the ground. Nonetheless, they surrounded my head and continued attacking me. Head, face, hands, head, face, hands… As they stung, I killed. I thought to myself, “My God, is this the type of death you have planned for me? My God, is this the type of death you have planned for me?! MY GOD, IS THIS THE TYPE OF DEATH YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR ME!” Yes, I repeated it three times in my mind.
I was exhausted; however, I didn’t give up. I was fighting for probably 45 minutes on the ground. “My God, do a miracle!” I said to myself as I continued my fight with the bees. A few minutes after, I smelt smoke. It so happens that while I was lying on the ground frantically moving my arms, an elderly lady who lived across the street had come out of her house to do something. She saw me on the ground and decided to come closer to see what was happening, and that’s when she saw that I was being attacked by these African bees. She quickly called out the neighbors and they came out. Someone decided to light up some dried coconut branches and carefully threw it in my direction. The smoke caused the bees to go away. When the bees had gone away, another lady pulled me and sat me up. The lady’s son, a little boy of 12 years of age, put my right arm over his shoulders and another young man did the same on my left side and said to me: “Don’t worry. Walk, walk. walk.” As they carried me across the street to the elderly lady’s house, a bee managed to sting the little boy’s right hand, and it immediately became swollen.
When we reached the lady’s house, she told someone to bring me a chair, which they sat me on, and they gave me a glass of water. My body was exhausted, but I was yet unconscious of my surroundings. I did not count how many people were gathered there, but I think there were a lot, because I heard plenty of voices. One of the women presently works for my sister-in-law, so she quickly called her and told her of the situation. My little brother and his wife, who doesn’t live far from where I live, came with his vehicle. Once again, two other young men carried me into the vehicle, and I was taken to the Corozal Community Hospital at the Emergency Unit. On my arrival, my brother ran inside to notify the doctors of my situation, and not long after, two young men came outside with a wheelchair, helped me out of the vehicle and took me inside to the emergency room. Once in there, I counted about 6 persons, among them nurses and doctors. I heard one of the doctors give orders to immediately remove the stingers and to put me on intravenous fluids (IV or drips), and through those tubes they gave me about four other different types of injections. They worked very fast and took out as much of the stingers that were on my body while doing other tests such as taking my vital signs.
I did not know that these bees had a type of poison that if a dozen or more sting you, the accumulation of venom would make you faint. Luckily, I did not faint. The doctors continued attending to me, checking my vital signs, asking me questions, speaking to me so that I wouldn’t fall asleep, because it seems that it is dangerous to fall asleep after being stung. Yes, they took a while to take out most, if not all, of the stingers. After they finished, they changed me into a hospital gown and moved me to another bed right there in the emergency unit, where the doctor would constantly pass and touch my feet to check if I was still responsive.
- “I am only checking.”
- “Yes, Doc. I know.”
I was hospitalized and was changed to another bed in the male ward. Every now and then, a nurse would come to read my vital signs, to check in on me. When dawn came, I was served a delicious breakfast. Shortly after, a nurse came to check my vital signs and recorded it. Thereafter, the same doctors that attended to me on the night I entered the emergency unit, came to check on me, and I asked if they were going to release me, and one of the doctors answered stating, “Yes, but after we run other tests.”
Not too long after, two young men brought in an electrogram machine. Two nurses came and conducted an electrogram of my heart. At around midday, I was released. I would like to extend my appreciation for the good service rendered by the doctors and nurses who attended to me. Also, I am very appreciative to the people of my neighborhood, Finca Solana, who saved my life, because if it weren’t for them lighting a fire and smoking the bees away, I would have died. So, I am very thankful to my neighbors from Finca Solana who saved my life and the doctors and nurses from the emergency unit at the Corozal Community Hospital who gave their scientific, professional attention that made it possible for me to still be alive.
November 6, 2022