I’ve referenced the time I got swarmed by fire ants while peeing in the woods a few times. It’s one of my favorite stories to tell (well, in hindsight anyway, in the present time, it sucked). Let it be both a source of humor and a cautionary tale to anyone who trail runs.
Without further ado, I give to you:
The Great Trail-Running Fire Ant Debacle of 2008
I’ll be the first to admit, I hate road running. I don’t know if it’s the impact on my joints or being able to see a mile in front of me, but it’s just not much my thing (which is concerning, considering I’ve run half-marathons and a marathon). My friend Jeremy and I both felt this way, but we both loved running, so we had ourselves a chat. Jeremy, who’s also a professional cyclist, suggested we go run the bike trails behind a public park right that is right next to my parents’ house.
Let me go ahead and state for the record that I love this park. My first trip out there was at six weeks old to watch my dad play ball at the softball fields. My mom would take my sister and I out there when we were little to play on the playground. I remember it had a jungle gym with big metal googly eyes on it that I loved. It also had a HUGE wooden fort that I wasn’t allowed to get close to, despite my many requests, because my mom deemed it structurally unsound. I think it collapsed a few years later, so thanks Mom.
In any case, the bike trails are great. They run up and across the side of the hill in the back area of the park. Keep in mind, there are actual PAVED bike trails going through the woods as well, but these weren’t it. This was like running through the forest on a little worn dirt path getting slapped in the face with branches.
In fact, once I got in a bad fight with a thorny bush back there. The thorny bush won.
Even with this, though, I was doing okay.
But about ten minutes out from the hospital, my throat started closing.
I was panicking in my soul, but I was scared to tell Mom. My mom has a tendency to speed in normal life, and she already had her emergency flashers on, one hand over the horn, putting the chase scene from The Italian Job to shame. I was trying to wheeze quietly to myself, but there isn’t really such a thing as “wheezing quietly,” so I was totally busted and Mom then thought I was legit dying and put a Mazda Millenia into Star Wars warp speed. Had it been nighttime, the stars would have blurred into lines. I think we were going THAT fast.
We blazed into the hospital parking lot, tires smoking and guns blazing. The hospital got me back to a room pretty quickly, as they were not blind and/or deaf people and could see that I was a wheezing, blotchy-red version of Violet the Blueberry Girl. I lay on the exam table and prayed to God for a quick death.
And then came a knock on the door, and Dr. Angel strolled in.
He walked in looking at the chart, eyes down, and he was in the middle of asking what the problem was when he looks up at me. His eyes got kind of big, and he put up one finger and simply said, “I’ll be right back.” Within two minutes, he gave me three different shots in the butt.
Then I remember very little.
The hives went down and the itching stopped. The hospital kept me for a few extra hours because the doctor told my mom he had never seen anyone’s ears turn that shade of purple before. Which was cool, I generally like doing things that have never been done before.
He told me if I ever get swarmed by fire ants again, I have to get to a hospital ASAP because the reaction will be quicker and worse. I was basically chided for coming that far in the middle of wheezing, which, as an adult, I understand.
Anyway, the moral of the story is this: don’t pee on fire ants. They get shitty about it.