I am a 5th Generation Arizonan; which is increasingly rare in this state because of the population growth over the last several years. So, I am not sure what it is like to live in a state like Kansas during tornado season, or what it is like to live in Florida during hurricane season or what it is like to live along the San Andreas Fault. I imagine, however, that it is similar to how I have always felt about living in Arizona with the Arizona Bark Scorpion, I have never thought much about it.
I spent a summer in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands during hurricane season when I was a teenager and remember going through the preparations for a hurricane, including, buying bottled water, food and lumber to protect my parent’s home and to prepare for hunkering down during the storm. It didn’t seem out-of-the-ordinary because everything on the island stopped for the days leading up to the hurricane’s landing; and once the events occurred, for the most part, everything went back to normal. It was almost ritualistic for the natives in St. Croix.
Back here in Arizona, the closest thing we have that compares to a Category 5 Hurricane is probably a micro-burst during a particularly bad monsoon, perhaps even causing a flash flood; not quite the same as a massive hurricane. One of the next most dangerous things you might have to worry about as a resident of Arizona is our very own Arizona Bark Scorpion. The bark scorpion is considered the most dangerous scorpion in the United States and is also considered deadly; though victims of fatal stings usually have other underlying health issues, are either very young or very old, or are allergic and usually die due to complications from anaphylactic shock.
Perhaps I am in the minority here in Arizona but I neither check my shoes before I put them on nor do I shake my bed covers before climbing into bed to make sure that there aren’t any scorpions lying in wait to poison me with painful neurotoxin. Well, it seems that maybe I should have been more careful because as I was cleaning up for the Christmas holiday, I picked up a cardboard box of Christmas presents that I just brought home from my in-laws (who must not keep up with their pest control). When I picked up the box, I put my pinky finger on a scorpion hiding under the box and for a brief moment, I could feel the scorpion trying to wiggle free and I dropped the box immediately; however, it was too late. The scorpion had injected me with its powerful neurotoxin and I felt an immediate pain in the middle of my pinky finger on my right hand. The sting felt like someone had poked me with a needle all the way into my bone. I quickly grasped my finger and squeezed tightly and the pain began to ease but the damage had been done and my agony remained. Once I let go of my grasp and in the ensuing moments, the venom began to travel up my arm. First, I felt the pain on the top of the back side of my hand where I could see the veins under my skin. Then, some moments later, I began to feel the neurotoxin work its way to my wrist where each time I felt my pulse, the pain seemed to grow stronger. Moments later, I felt it in my arm and then worse on the inside of my elbow. As I continued to work in the garage, I even felt the pain reach my shoulder. The pain was pretty strong during those first few moments but not strong enough for me to feel like I needed to go to the hospital. (However, many people, including real world sources, recommend that you do go to the hospital after being stung by a scorpion.) After several minutes, the pain was quite tolerable though very uncomfortable. My entire arm had the sensation of when your leg or arm falls asleep. I have heard it referred to as pins and needles and that is an accurate description.
Today, several hours later, the pain in my shoulder and most of the pain in my arm has already subsided. My finger is a different story. I believe that the pain in my little finger is best described in this manner…have you ever had a Novocain shot while visiting the dentist? My finger feels like I have had an overdose of novocain in my finger. I do have motor control over my finger but it seems a little sluggish. When I touch my finger gently against my other fingers, I hardly feel the touch yet I consistently feel the tingling. If I really put pressure on my finger it hurts severely and even though it feels like it is swollen twice its normal size, I can’t actually see any difference in size.
Interestingly, the sting never made me feel like I needed to stay home from work or change my plans whatsoever but the pain continues even now, eighteen hours later, to affect just about everything I do. I cannot type with my pinky nor can I use the mouse without putting my pinky finger in the air as though I am about to drink some tea at my daughter’s tea party.
A few days later:
When my wife was having her last baby, there was a chart on the wall with the numbers 0-10. There were also pictures next to the numbers that indicated levels of pain.
Even on the first day, immediately after the sting occurred, the pain level was only a 5 or 6. I continued to bring in the presents from the garage but I was careful not to touch anything with my finger. On day two, as I was writing this description, the pain was slightly less acute in the 4-5 range but still affected how I worked and went through my daily routines. On the third day, most of the pain was gone but my finger was still numb and by day 4 or 5, all of the pain had completely subsided. However, it took a few more days for the numbness to completely dissipate.
Overall, I would have to say that being stung by a scorpion is quite a bit less frightening than I thought it would be. I have learned a lot from this process and the research I conducted after having been stung. I am happy to share my thoughts and feelings with you in hopes that you learn something too.