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From The Chief Editor's Desk...

When you consider the vastness of the universe, it's difficult to comprehend how little, miniscule "events" come together. That's exactly what happened to me recently.

We (finally) got a chance to take our new camping trailer out on its inaugural camping trip. We chose a campground close to home for the initial "shake down" trip. Our location had a lake, and a short bike path that went all the way around the lake. We love riding bikes, so this campground was especially selected because of its bike path. It gives the kids something to do that they love.

On our bike rides, it's usually me out front. I like to go fast, while my wife likes to go at a much more leisurely pace. So, I usually ride ahead, and then stop and wait for her to catch up. My son is determined to keep up with dad, so he's usually the second one in our little bike parade. My daughter takes the third position, while my wife brings up the rear.

The bike path around the small lake is 3.75 miles (6.04 Km) long. Including the distance from our campsite, our bike ride would total 5.62 miles (9.04 Km) long (measured with my smart watch's GPS, which I started when we began our ride). We're accustomed to much longer bike rides, so this one was definitely within the realms of our abilities. Before the kids came along, my wife and I would go on bike rides of between 30 and 50 miles (50 to 80 Km) pretty regularly. Since the kids have come along (and since they've learned to ride their bikes), the longest bike ride we've been on is around 12 miles, or 19.3 Km.

So, we're riding in our usual fashion, with me out front, followed by my son, then my daughter and wife bringing up the rear. We're about half of the distance around the lake. That is, it's just as far to turn around and go back as it is to continue going forward.

Since I like to go fast, I frequently breathe with a slightly open mouth to help increase air movement in and out of my lungs. This day, apparently, was not the day to do that.

So, I'm going down a small hill, and really gaining some speed. I'm pedaling through the downhill slope, hoping to gain an extra amount of speed to get back up the hill on the other side. All of a sudden, about half way down the hill, a bug flew into my partially opened mouth. Yeah, I can already hear the jokes about that one!

So I'm coughing, gagging and sputtering about, trying to get the flying intruder out of my mouth. Now it's starting to actually hurt. My son comes up and says, "Hey, Dad! What's wrong?" I told him a bug flew into my mouth, and I was trying to get it out. He pointed down on the ground, and said "There's a yellow jacket!" Sure enough, there was a yellow jacket. He (the yellow jacket) looked quite confused and dazed, like "what the heck just happened to me?"

A yellow jacket is the "bug" that flew into my mouth! It scared the shiitake mushrooms right out of me! I've been stung by these evil flying devil insects before, and have had a reaction to them in the past. This "bug" had managed to START to sting me at the back of my mouth before I got him coughed and sputtered out of my mouth. The only thing I had with me (medication-wise) were some ibuprofen tablets. I took a 600mg dose and continued on my way. Being literally midway around the lake, what else could I do? And hurt? It was THROBBING at this point! By the way, I was the LAST thing that he ever stung. I ground him into the asphalt paving of the bike trail with my foot.

Let me tell you something. Getting stung on the INSIDE of your mouth by a yellow jacket is generally considered a medical emergency. The risk of your airway swelling shut is very, very real. This is why I was very, very scared. "Airways" have been my "business" for the past 35 years as a respiratory therapist. I am/was very cognizant of the risk(s) from being stung in the mouth by those evil flying devil insects!

We made it back to the camping trailer without further incident. In fact, the picture above was shot after the yellow jacket incident, when we were about three-quarters of the way around the lake. I did drive into town to get some more ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and some Benadryl after we got back. I took the Benadryl before I went to bed that evening, and awoke the next morning feeling much better. The antihistamine was exactly what I needed to counter the sting. Oh, I could still feel it. In fact, I could still feel the after-effects of the sting for another few days, in fact. But the swelling risk had passed, and I could (literally) breathe easier.

In all the universe, what are the chances that an evil flying devil insect, a yellow jacket that measures less than 1 inch long (2.54cm), would find its way into my slightly agape mouth (less than 6cm)? There has to be infinitesimally small odds for something like that to happen! I'm just glad to have gotten him coughed out before he had a chance to get a really good sting on me. I think things would have been a LOT more serious if he had actually gotten a good sting on me. Lucky? Maybe, but I'm not known for having much luck of the "good" variety.


This month's cover, designed by Meemaw, celebrates International Bacon Day, on September 3, 2022. The "unofficial" holiday is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of September.


Until next month, I bid you peace, happiness, serenity, prosperity, good health … and NO stinging insects!

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