A Wellesley man and his daughter were stung by hundreds of yellow jackets on Sunday afternoon at Boulder Brook Reservation. Paul Rogers was walking in the area with his 10-year-old daughter and the family dog when his daughter got near the nest, located inside a tree trunk, and was attacked by the stinging insects. When Rogers went to her rescue, the wasps attacked him as well.
In the melee, Rogers dropped his iPhone and was without it for a matter of hours. This is his story.
BYLINE: PAUL ROGERS
An epic tale: Man, child and puppy v Nasty Yellow Jackets 🐝
Got an hour to waste, pour yourself a drink and read on…
1st QUARTER: THE STING
Decided to go for an explore in Boulder Brook with my 10-year-old daughter and 1-year-old dog Drake (named after the rapper, not the explorer).
It was Sunday morning, we were in shorts, t-shirts and hiking boots as wanted to climb up the big rock peak before going to the neighborhood block party in the afternoon.
Decided to take an immediate detour down to the stream below as soon as we entered the woods from Westgate Road entrance. There were some stones to climb over, which I assume sort of marked the area out of bounds but ignored that as all intrepid explorers would.
Got down to the stream and tried crossing it by walking over the tree trunk, slipped, fell in the water.
Spent the next five minutes criss-crossing the stream. The dog was having fun going in and out and life was good. Then I saw a big board attached to a big branch floating in the stream saying something like: “Keep out, Private property”.
As I was stepping over it, I slipped on it and fell in the stream again. Should have turned back then.
Then my daughter, who was ahead of me now, saw something bright and multi-colored a hundred feet down stream. It looked like a rainbow colored fishing net.
She ran ahead to check it out but before she got there, she screamed out loud. I didn’t think much as even a spider or a bee near her would make her scream. I shouted over to see what was up and she was screaming more now and jumping around.
She shouts out that she’s been stung and I thought, “Damn, we’ve just got here and we’re going to have to go back and deal with this rather than mess around climbing.”
Then she’s screaming that she’s getting stung more. I ran over and grabbed her and tried to swipe the wasps – which I later discovered turned out to be Yellow Jackets – off her.
She was getting repeatedly stung, and I guess I was as well but it was all pretty chaotic and although it was hurting, it was more a panic about what to do for her.
We got away from the hornet nest – apparently it was inside a tree trunk, according to my daughter, she knocked something near it or stood on the trunk, she said – but we were still getting stung.
I’d dropped my phone when I was grabbing her to get her away so my phone was on the floor near the nest and I wanted to get it, but my daughter couldn’t be left alone.
Not sure what the dog was doing – I think he just thought it was a game.
Anyway, left the phone – reluctantly – and got out of the woods onto Westgate Road.
We still had hornets or wasps or whatever they were on us and flying around us. They followed us out. I thought teenage girls could be vindictive and hold grudges but they have nothing on these the nasty little flying killers. Even out of the woods and back on Westgate Road they continued to sting us.
I had to take my t-shirt off – not something I generally do in the streets – and we had to run back to our house, about half a mile away as I couldn’t phone my wife to get us as my phone was in the woods.
So we have the three of us running – me with no top on, my daughter screaming, the dog thinking this is brilliant and running through people’s front gardens. The wasps are following us and stinging us as soon as they can land on us. They seem to like me more than her now.
Not a great situation.
Then, obviously, the dog stops to do his business on the side of the road about 200 yards from our house – I kid you not, when I stopped to bend down to bag it up, I got stung in the eye by one of our new friends.
Picking up sloppy pooh is my least favorite task in the world, getting stung in the eye at the same time is just the icing on the cake.
2nd QUARTER: THE JOURNEY
Anyway, if you’re still reading, we get to the house, and I run in to call my wife out. A neighbor was helping my screaming daughter with ice packs and my wife saw my face, arms, neck, legs and back were actually covered in bites and stings and had all joined together to just cover my body in swollen red hives.
Now I was starting to get dizzy and a bit confused.
My daughter was still screaming, the dog was still playing.
We decided to go to ER to see what we needed to do. I got in the car and was starting to get worried as I felt really strange.
I became totally disorientated and the road in front through the windscreen was getting blurred. I could feel myself losing my sight and thought, I’m going to lose consciousness soon.
For some unknown reason, I started making shapes or something with my hands to try and concentrate on something and not go to sleep.
I then couldn’t see anything at all – what started as blurred was now just nothing.
I thought, I’ve gone blind.
The kids in the back were worrying about me.
Then I threw up over my shorts and then more sick over the seat.
I was being sick, couldn’t see anything and was struggling to stay awake.
At that moment – with my shorts covered in vomit, my wife shouting at a driver to speed up one second and me not to go to sleep, one kid crying in the back about her dad, and the other one screaming about her stings – I thought, we might miss the neighborhood block party this afternoon.
3rd Quarter: ER
When we got to the hospital, my oldest daughter ran in to tell them what had happened. The youngest one went in and was put in a wheelchair.
I was then helped out of the car, where I think I’d passed out and guided into the reception. I was put in a wheelchair and there was no messing, no checking in, just – “Right, you stay here, we need to take your dad in right now!”
I could see again – a bit blurred but I could see.
I was taken into a room and there were about eight people in there.
I know the U$ health system is mocked where we’re from in England, but there was no messing around here.
Fully staffed up and immediate help.
A lady said, “This is going to hurt. We’re going to give you an immediate Adrenalin shot as your blood pressure is dangerously low.”
I’m not sure whether that was a trick because while I’m bracing myself for the injection shot – and I hate needles more than my daughter hates flying stinging things – they hooked me up to the IV drip at same time in my vein in my right arm.
That absolutely killed, the injection shot was painless.
The drip though – that was nasty.
To cut an incredibly long story a little bit shorter… My body then goes into spasms and starts shaking a lot – which I’m told is the Adrenalin kicking in.
I had a nurse who loved the English accent and could even do different regional English accents in a funny way. I thought this was a nice touch.
We have the free National Health Service (NHS) in the UK but we don’t have funny nurses. Maybe that’s just included in the price of American healthcare.
I then went cold, had steroids and loads of other stuff pumped into me via the drip, was given warm blankets – another perk we don’t get on the NHS – and had my blood pressure automatically taken every 15 minutes which then sent out a very loud beep to say whether I was dying or not.
I assume I wasn’t as no one ever seemed to rush in.
I then proceeded to drift in and out of consciousness for the next few hours.
I think I was just falling asleep but “drifting in and out of consciousness” sounds more exciting and dramatic.
My wife came in to see me, having been in my daughter’s room in ER. She either wanted to see how I was or she wanted to get a break from two hours of screaming child – probably a bit of both.
The nurse apparently had told her, “You can go and see him, that was a little bit close… he had us worried when he came in.”
I take that as evidence I was in a near-death situation – which obviously helps when embellishing this story in the future.
After about three or four hours – I’d watched the Patriots game throughout when I was awake or trying to take my mind off needles – a doctor came in and said: “Ok, you are stable now. The body reacted badly to the poison and your immune system struggled because you had between 100 and 200 stings all over. I would probably advise you stay in overnight – so if there’s another reaction, we are here. Alternatively, we can send you home and give you EpiPen to inject yourself with and a ton of tablets – steroids , etc. Up to you?”
4th QUARTER: RETURN TO THE SCENE
I checked myself out.
Not because I thought it would fine to leave hospital. If I’m honest, I would rather have stayed there with the warm blankets and the nurses on hand should it all go wrong again.
I checked myself out because I had to go back to the scene of the attack and get my damn work iphone.
Work emails, work contacts, work notes – all important – but not as important as my holiday pictures which were on that phone and not backed up anywhere.
We checked out – one bored, older teenager who was starving and worse still, her phone had died – one screaming child with 15 stings, the Mrs, designated racing driver on the way to hospital who had multi-tasked by finding things for me to be sick on and protect her seats while weaving in and out of traffic, and me, who was feeling surprisingly well and happy to be alive.
When I got home, I covered up my many stings, bites, rashes and hives with Nike running tights, Patagonia base layer, hoodie, long socks, wooly hat and snood covering my face – so only my eyes were exposed.
I put on gloves and we drove to the woods. I re-traced our steps and used the rainbow-colored fishing net as a marker to head towards. I got near, tried to ring my phone using my wife’s phone, couldn’t do it with gloves on, took them off, which meant I could ring the phone and hear where it was but that I was definitely going to get stung.
I didn’t get stung and I didn’t hear the phone – it was on silent, obviously.
I skulked around, trying not to step on anything dodgy and then saw it on the floor, face down. I got it and then made a hasty exit, clambering up the embankment to the path like my boy Bear Grylls.
Didn’t get a single sting, didn’t see a single yellow jacket.
When I checked the phone, the first message I saw was from my boss asking when something at work was going to be fixed.
I wanted to reply: “I was almost dead three hours ago!”
I replied, “Monday.”
EXTRA TIME : THE REAL STING
And that was that.
We went to CVS, picked up a different set of tablets for every sting, got some cool injector epipen things and some sweets for the screaming child.
The dog had been sick all over the kitchen floor.
Maybe he should have gone to his version of ER.
The screaming child was still screaming.
We never did make it to the neighborhood block party, although a kind neighbor did bring over a turkey croissant sandwich to cheer me up.
My eye was swollen up and my neck was a mess – both of which I secretly hoped would last until Monday morning to show people at work to prove I wasn’t just making this whole thing up.
Apart from feeling a bit sore and swollen then itchy, I actually was pretty happy.
I went out for a little play on my new skateboard (which is how I’ll end up in ER next time) and the young one managed to stop screaming for long enough to play with the neighbors before coming back to scream and cry herself to sleep.
Which is exactly what I would have done at her age.
Quite the adventure, all in all.
Which leaves just two final questions:
1. As the biggest and nastiest sting is still to come – the actual medical bill – who do I sue? This is America, after all, the land of baseball, apple pie, school shootings and suing everyone. Do I sue Sue the animal welfare woman for not keeping her wasps under control? Do I sue the School Superintendent as he gets blamed for everything? Sue Trump? Just because.
2. If I spice up the story slightly with those three dog-snatching coyotes from MoPo’s frozen lake, that Texan woman with the truck full of MR15s, some snakes, a few kids vaping in the woods, a lost sloth, those two obnoxious Trump fans who drove through Wellesley College and a pizza turf war between Upper Crust and Old School, do you think it could get picked up for a movie?
Asking for a friend…