Bee-ing prepared, with an EpiPen and HealthNav app

Late last September I was backpacking a particularly rugged, remote section of the Nantahala National Forest when I entered a clearing and my legs went electric. I knew immediately why: bees, lots of ’em, all digging into my apparently tasty ankles. And I knew immediately that my trip was over and it would behoove me to skedaddle as quickly as possible. Over the years I have developed an allergic reaction to bee stings, and as is the case with bee stings each successive one tends to be worse than its predecessor. The last time I’d been stung, the previous summer, a bee flew into my nose while I was mountain biking. Within minutes my face had swollen to the size of a basketball.

I was concerned about the four hours I figured it would take me to hike out. I was also concerned that I hadn’t taken the precautions I should have to deal with this, my next inevitable sting. Precautions such as:

Get an EpiPen. EpiPens provide an immediate infusion of epinephrine, used to deal with a variety of life-threatening allergic reactions. (Bee stings can eventually result in swollen breathing tubes, make respiration a challenge.) To this point, I’d been relying on a handful of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) , a considerably less potent remedy, to deal with the stings. As my reactions became more severe, however, the Benadryl’s impact became less so. (For the record, I have since become armed with an EpiPen, which requires a prescription.)

Know where to go for additional help. The EpiPen is good at stalling a severe reaction, but it’s magic only lasts a short while. After injecting yourself, you’re instructed to seek qualified medical help immediately. Now, were I of a certain mind, I could simply buy a Spot GPS Messenger, issue, via satellite, an emergency signal, and have qualified medical help find me. While it’s probably good to have a Spot or Spotlike device for true emergency situations, if you value your adventure identity in the least, you do everything in your own power to deal with a problem before seeking help. Which doesn’t mean ruling out electronic assistance entirely.

Recently, I discovered an app offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Disclosure: BCBSNC sponsors this blog) that, among other things, locates the nearest urgent care provider to your current location. If I’d had it last September, when I got back to the my car at the trailhead, I could have simply tapped “Urgent Care” and discovered that the nearest urgent care facility was less than 16 miles away, in Franklin. The map function would have provided the best route to get there. BCBCNC’s HealthNav app includes 164 urgent care facilities statewide. (Another helpful function: You can use the app to compare prescription drug prices.) Download the HealthNAV app here.

I still dread bees. But with the EpiPen and HealthNav app, I dread them a little less.

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