August 19, 2014
The epipen is a stick of adrenaline, literally. If you find yourself reacting badly to a sting, like throat closing, unable to breath – then you stick one of these into your thigh, which releases adrenaline into your system and makes your heart race, which somehow counteracts the reaction and can save your life. Every beekeeper should have one around the house, if not for themselves, then for visitors. It is lifesaving insurance.
Two seasons and six hives later I finally decided, or rather remembered to call my doctor and make an appointment to get an epipen prescription. We recently had dinner with friends, one of who was a member of the actual team that developed the epipen. He asked about the bees and my husband relayed my large poofy reactions to the stings. I’m not deathly allergic, but I do swell considerably. In no uncertain terms, he said I needed to get an epipen IMMEDIATELY, and followed with horrible stories of people who died because they disregarded their reactions and symptoms to stings.
I met with my doctor, and after answering the standard questions – “how’d you get into beekeeping?”, “what do you do with your honey?”, and so on – my prescription was called in and I was warned – “they’re pretty expensive”. Really? No one told me they’d be very expensive.
Next stop…the pharmacist. I asked “how expensive are they?”, and his response – “they’re expensive as hell!”. For two (yes, they only come in two packs) epipens that I hope I will never have to use…ever…they cost $400. I just about choked on my own tongue. How do you make a decision like that? Whether to take the risk or spend $400? Even $200 for one is insane, yikes! But the alternative is even worse. Decisions, decisions.
Luckily, insurance did cover them, so my decision was easy. $30 later, me and my epipens were heading home. What if insurance didn’t cover it? How many beekeepers opt NOT to purchase them because they’re so expensive and they don’t have insurance to cover them? A vast dilemma I’m sure, and something that’s easily dismissed until time of need.
In anycase, I hope this little experience sheds some light on yet another side of beekeeping that many may not know about or consider. We hear about near and final fatalities from bee stings all the time, and I for one, take risks and get stung regularly, thinking I’ll always bee fine – just war wounds, part of being a beekeeper. But I confess that having the epipens does offer some comfort, knowing that my husband, my family, my friends, myself – we’re all safer now because I have two epipens in my bathroom drawer. I hope never to have to use one, but they’re there if the need arises.