In the space of a second, I see a little black bug - okay it wasn't little at all it was freakin' huge - about a foot away, flying right at me. It was either a bee, or a horsefly. It goes straight into my mouth and whacks up against the back of my throat. It felt like a jelly bean. Not one of those punkass Jelly Belly tiny jelly beans, but a big, old fashioned, Brachs pellet. The impact shocked me, and I inhaled. In retrospect, this may have been a mistake. Whatever it was, the King Kong Bug went shooting down my throat. It was still very alive and felt like it was doing a dance on the way down. The jitterbug, if you must know.
I think it caught on some little flapper or valve on my esophagus, because it halted right behind my sternum, and started clawing its way back up. This was pretty awful, and it felt burn-y. I kept riding though, and contemplated taking a swig of water. I tried to cough it out but it was wayyy to far down for that. I started to heave a bit. But wait, it gets worse.
I've been struggling with a bad head/chest cold for days, and I have a raging dry cough, with the attendant burning throat/esophagus feeling. Right when the bug got to the point where it feels like there is a razor blade scraping my throat, a point just below my adam's apple, it bit or stung me.
I locked up both wheels on the bike and skidded to a stop, and began to barf immediately. Somehow, I got off the bike, and was crawling around in the grass yakking. It wasn't normal barfing - I'm a quiet barfer and usually just hurl. In this case, I was making a yowling noise, like a dog makes when it has a stick caught in its throat.
YEeeeeeaaaaaarrrrrrr! Yeeaaaaaaaaaagggggcvccckkkk! Aaaaaaaarrrrrrruuuuunnnpppppptttthhhh!
Three or four riders - commuter types from the look of them - rode by as I was crawling along throwing up the limited contents of my stomach.
After a while, I stopped vomiting. I didn't feel well, but figured I needed to keep riding. So I took a swig or two of water, rinsed out, drank another couple swigs, remounted, and started to circle Hains Point. I don't know if the bee or horsefly was dead at that point - there was still some tickling in my throat and every time there was more tickling, it made my stomach heave. And every time I breathed, or thought about the thing, it made my stomach heave. But I kept what was left in my stomach down, it settled after a bit, and I finished the ride okay and made it into work on time.
Now here's the damnedest thing (other than the commuters riding by like nothing was happening). You know how I said my throat has been killing me? Well, the sting seemed to relieve the pain. I don't know why, but it instantly cured my throat, or at least knocked out 75 or 80% of the pain I was feeling. I don't get that at all, and given a choice between feeling the sore throat all day and going through the gulp/sting/vomit cycle, I think I'd rather just deal with the sore throat... but it's an interesting side effect of the sting or bite.
I don't recommend trying it the next time you have a cold.
[Update: Holy Cow! What Sarah said. It seems the Chinese use bee stings as a remedy for a variety of ailments.
A folk remedy for treating arthritis, back pain and rheumatism for 3,000 years in China, practitioners say that such pinpointed stings can repair damaged cells, stave off bacteria and ease inflammation.
Chinese physicians apparently employ this folk remedy and believe it is effective, but admit they do not know how it works, that “there are too many unanswered questions."
Naturally, "Western-trained doctors dismiss the treatment as unscientific and dangerous."
Yeah, well, I guess I just imagined my throat feeling better after the f***ing bee sting, right? Or maybe I'm Chinese, and just didn't realize it, and susceptible to crazy Chinese folks tales. After all, I do *love* me some dim sum, and at times experience a *powerful* thirst for the mighty Tsingtao lager...
I have with the pop version of science. A key element of scientific method - y'know, the empirical search for truth - is "falsifiability" - the notion that a theory is invalid if it cannot be disproved, or falsified. Too much science gets reported as fact in the media (even the scientific media, sometimes) when in reality, the scientific "truth" is a best guess of how things work, not the absolute, final truth. Real scientific truth should be expressed as, "we believe it works thusly." Science-as-dogma is usually expressed as, "this is the truth and if you disagree with "X" you are a denier of the truth. That is religion, not science. (Not particularly good religion, BTW... good religion usually comes with a better set of arguments than "because I say so.")
Believers in science-as-dogma will say things like "bee sting treatment is unscientific and dangerous." Yet the article I linked to points out that Chinese healers have been using it for specific ailments for 3,000 years with some success, and modern Chinese doctors (MDs) are employing it with success as well, though they do not understand at all how it works.
The upshot is that there are things that we just don't know - even if we're on the science beat for the NY Times and presumptively all-knowing. It's bad science to say "we don't have an explanation for 'X' therefore X must be untrue. Or "bee sting therapy must be bad and unscientific." No, bee sting therapy isn't unscientific. If anything is unscientific here, it's the willingness of Western medicine to dismiss a potential healing treatment, simply because it doesn't fit into current scientific orthodoxy. They thought putting leaches on suppurating wounds was a disgusting and ineffective medical treatment, a holdover from the middle ages. They've recently discovered it's a great way to help cure infections and to restore circulation to damaged areas of the flesh. So much for the absolute, God's honest scientific truth of 20 years ago, that using leaches medically is bad and unscientific.
I'm not endorsing bee sting therapy, especially not for sore throats. That was a godawful experience. I'm just saying that if it works for a lot of people then we probably shouldn't reject it out of hand simply because it doesn't come pre-packaged from big Pharma to fit neatly into our little world view, where all medicines come in pill form.
To insist otherwise, to insist that our previously existing knowledge cannot possibly be superseded by others' knowledge, is supremely arrogant, and the opposite of the humble attitude toward unknown facts that good scientific work requires.]