In September 2021 Stephen was working on his garden renovation with a groundsman who was levelling the ground with a digger when he hit an underground wasp nest. The wasps immediately swarmed out from underground and started to attack the pair.
Stephen said: “I saw my groundsman dart out of the digger and run for the hills, I followed him as did the wasps. It was like something out of a horror movie.”
“I got about five stings on the back of my head and on my arms and within seconds I started to feel funny. My skin started to itch, and I felt immediate tightness in my jaw. I told my wife that I was having some sort of reaction and within two minutes I had gone grey. I fell to the floor and was being sick, my skin was bubbling, and masses of fluid started to come out of the blisters on my skin.”
Stephen’s wife immediately called 999 for an ambulance and in this time whilst on the phone to the emergency call handler, Stephen said his throat started to close. He continued: “I remember feeling like all the blood was draining out of my body and that my limbs were shrinking. I saw the ambulance crew turn up and the last thing I remember saying to my wife was ‘I really don’t want to die like this’, and I heard the male paramedic say; ‘His blood pressure is low’.”
Ambulance crew mates, Paramedic John and Emergency Medical Technician Apprentice Kimberley, arrived on scene to Stephen and immediately administered shots of adrenaline which helped to bring him round.
John and Kimberley took Stephen to Countess of Chester Hospital where he was monitored for several hours, and discharged with antihistamines and an epi-pen to help him manage his allergy to wasps.
John said: ”Stephen was obviously having an anaphylactic reaction and quite ill when we arrived. Thankfully he responded well to the treatment Kim and I gave him. It is great to hear he is doing well.”
Stephen talks about how this experience has changed his life: “I can’t go anywhere without taking my epi-pen now, it must be with me permanently as wasps can crop up in all sorts of places.
“I used to love being outdoors but now I have a sense of nervousness and anxiety about my exposure. I used to wear shorts and a t-shirt and now in hot weather I still make sure I wear trousers and long sleeves to minimise surface area of my skin on display. My wife and I have not been abroad due to my fear of being outdoors. I have to have my windows shut in the house and in the car, it really has changed me, and I was never a nervous person.”
Stephen is now receiving immunotherapy treatment at hospital which involves injections of wasp venom extract under the guidance of a consultant which should help him to become resilient to wasp stings.