A black void, followed by a lingering dim light, like a shooting star set against the dark, dark sky. 

“What could I wish for?”, you think for yourself, although it doesn’t seem like a thought at all; it’s just random words, arranging themselves as they please. “I wish I could know what happened to me.” You then manage to regain a semblance of consciousness. 

Suddenly, you start to feel the weight of your closed eyelids, followed by an acute migraine that makes your opaque sky burst into fireworks. It’s overwhelming, as memories abruptly run into each other, becoming one stacked image, without you being able to discern between them. You remember hanging desperately on your last breath, the ambulance wailing. You remember a bee buzzing around you, and how the music quickly faded away as if it was just stolen away from you. They all come back at the same time and you wish you could understand any of it, although they’re clear yet blurry pictures of a person that looks just like you, but it is not your persona.

The black silence is sharply crushed by all of the background noise blasting your ears, all at once – the nurses talking next to you, a phone ringing, a comedy show with annoying laughing characters. The smell of disinfectant creeps meticulously into your nostrils and for a second you think that you are no longer able to breathe, but this is nothing compared to what you remember you were feeling when you fell on the ground. You’re waking up now, slowly opening your leaden eyelids. 

“You are in the hospital now”, said the brunette nurse. “We are happy you woke up, as the state you were in when you arrived wasn’t the most promising one.”

Questions rush to get out of your mouth, blocking each other in your throat – only four timid, almost mute, words manage to escape.

“What happened to me?” you ask, but you don’t recognise your voice anymore.

“You suffered an anaphylactic shock”, continues the nurse. “Your body had an extreme allergic reaction to something, but the problem is that we don’t exactly know what caused it”. 

“But what is anaphylaxis?” you ask yourself, as you fall back into a dark and silent sleep. Your thoughts are floating around in circles… have you ever thought about it before?

In fact, what is even an anaphylactic shock? Let’s start from the beginning. 

Each individual has their own high multi-leveled security system. You may have previously heard about it: the immune system. Whenever a foreign molecule enters or gets in contact with the body in any way, there is a mechanisms cascade that is put into action in order to protect you as well as possible. 

This ensures that no intruders are able to produce lasting damage to your organism. Some of these molecules and substances are pathogenic, like viruses, meaning that they may cause a disease, while others are completely non-infectious, such as nuts, flowers, or even animal’s fur. Our immune system knows how to identify what is harmful from what is not, but it is not a perfect system all the time, causing allergies to exist. You may have allergies from birth, but you can also acquire them throughout your life, sometimes after continuous exposure to a certain substance. 

 When you are faced with something you are allergic to, the immune system goes haywire, trying to protect you from the presumably dangerous thing. In extreme cases, a flood of chemicals rushes into your blood, causing your blood pressure to drop and airways to close. This set of events is called an anaphylactic shock, which can be extremely dangerous or even fatal. An injection with epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, is used as a instant cure to anaphylaxis, because it rises the blood pressure and relaxes the airways. The necessary dose of adrenaline is contained in an epi-pen, which is convenient to carry and use, in case of an emergency.

But we should return to finding exactly what happened to you.

You suddenly lift your eyelids, adrenaline coursing through your veins, and start blinking quickly, trying to adjust your eyes to the bright light surrounding you. A very familiar sound quickly passes your ears, but you are unable to identify it. You manage to focus your sight on the brunette nurse, and notice she is holding a closed transparent jar. To your surprise, you firstly hear the buzz, which takes you back to the previous night, as it was the last thing you heard before complete darkness. The music returns to your ears, but this time you are able to take big deep breaths, as you realise there is a small bee in the jar.

“This is our culprit”, the nurse says. “We’ve tested you for different allergies and the only one you have is the one to bee stings. Quite unusual considering your age, but we presume it’s an adult onset of the allergy.”

“And what should I do now?” you manage to say, still in disbelief.

“Just carry an epi-pen wherever you go and make sure to prevent bee stings as much as possible. ” she adds, smiling. “After all, it was an almost deadly bee sting.”

By Viviana Margarit

Want to read more?

Interested in the SIB?

Leave your email address and we'll send you some more information! Just one email, no strings attached.

SIB-Groningen.nl makes use of functional and analytical cookies. If you continue to use our site, we’ll assume that you’re okay with this.