My Immunotherapy Journey 🐝🤞

After 5 years of beekeeping and countless stings I very suddenly became severely allergic to my sweet honey bees 🐝😥. It was a very scary near death experience that if not for my fast acting, level headed sons I believe I would not be alive today.  If you’re interested in reading about the fatal beekeeping mistakes I made that contributed to the terrifying experience I will post it here soon.

That’s me, the fearless beekeeper on the ground surrounded by my very worried family and paramedics. 

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A few days after the experience I visited my family Dr., she gave a prescription for an Epi-Pen and made me promise her that I wouldn’t visit my hives alone or without the Epi-Pen until I recieved allergy testing. 

 

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But in the height of the season the work must carry on! My husband Andrew along with my oldest son Myles both suited up to get busy in the hives, one week after my allergic reaction. My third son Julius, peeking out from behind, drove the tractor and was prepared to chauffeur me back to the house should anything go awry! That day was uneventful, no one was stung, we hauled in loads of delicious ripe honey!

 

We finished the season together, several weeks later, each time my anxiety was lessneed.  I did get stung once on the finger and had no reaction, I had a sense that I wasn’t truly allergic to my bees and that experience in August was a one off. Allergy testing for Honey bees had been scheduled for January 2018.

Beautiful frame of capped Honey 🍯 

Beautiful frame of capped Honey 🍯 

My Immunotherapy Journey; The Allergy Test

The allergy challenge was scheduled for January 31st 2018 at the Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health. Maybe I was in denial, naive or just a hopeless optimist but I really felt that my test would be negative. Even after my near death experience I just wouldn’t let my mind go to the “what if” place of being allergic. I wasn’t going to allow myself to think about what I would do if my beloved little ladies could potentially threaten my life. So with that I started the testing knowing in my heart that I would not, could not have a positive result. For the purpose of the allergy challenge I was tested for 5 different stinging bees. The Honeybee, Wasp, Bald Faced Hornet, White Faced Hornet and Yellow Jacket.  The allergy technician listened intently to my story of being a 5th year Beekeeper and the details of the experience that led to me sitting in front of her at the clinic. She informed me that they see beekeepers all the time who have developed allergies and the importance of being accurately diagnosed. Yeah, yeah, not me though. 

 

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Pen marks indicate where each of the tiny pinpricks of venom were placed on my arm.  

 

The allergy technician sent me back to the waiting area for 15 minutes to allow the venom an opportunity to sink in and possibly react...

I’m not a very patient person and can rarely keep a secret, so I snuck into the bathroom to get a good look at my arm, which had become noticeably itchy under my long sleeved shirt.

 

Honeybee venom bump was bump number two ☝️  

Honeybee venom bump was bump number two ☝️  

All of the bumps looked slightly irritated to me after 8-10 minutes, itchy and warm. The honeybee venom, the only allergen I really cared about didn’t seem any more or less raised than the others.  

I pulled my sleeve back down and returned to the waiting area feeling pretty confident that the odds were in my favour for a negative allergy result. Another 5 minutes passed and the technician called me back in to read my result. I smiled confidently at her as I pulled my sleeve back up to reveal arm. She glanced at it and laughed, “well we knew this was the case didn’t we!” she said. 

 

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A large welt, the size of a twonie with surrounding red irritated borders had developed in the 5 minutes since I snuck a peek in the restroom. 😭

 

I faked a laugh along with the tech as if I too knew what the outcome would be. Inside I was crushed. I was sent back to the waiting area where the Allergist would call me shortly to discuss my options. My options?! I was reeling as I sat there, completely shocked and betrayed by my own optimism. How did this happen? How did I not know this was the reality? How can I be allergic to honeybees? I’m trying to save them, I’ve grown to love them and I’ve got huge plans for my future which revolves around the bees! My passion has become beekeeping and I don’t want to imagine not following my dreams. I sat there, deep breathing, willing myself not to cry. It seemed like an eternity until the Dr. called my name. 

To be continued...🐝

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