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This girl is on fire!

August 15, 2013

Ok as promised to the last update, this is the story about the after effects/affects (oh who cares I never promised grammatical accuracy in these updates) of being stung head to toe by Lion’s Mane Jellies.   Immediately after the swim, we pulled into Port Patrick Scotland.  Thankfully in the marina there was an electric shower.   This meant that I could warm up from the swim AND that I wouldn’t run out of hot water.  No cold water shower for me this time.  Double bonus!  There was only one barrier between me and this hot shower…20p and a turn style.  NOOOOOO foiled by about 35 cents.  The attendant was very nice to let me jump the turn style when I promised that we would pay double.  Plus I think my shivering and bluish skin let her know that a shower was way more important than the money. 

Now when you are stung by jellies there are a few schools of thought about what works best to alleviate the venom and ultimately keep the stingers from continuing to fire.  Yep, jellies are like bees in that the stingers stay in.  Unlike bees, they have way more than one stinger.  Treatment options:

  • Come on now people!  I know you are all thinking of the Friend’s option.  No this does not really work and wasn’t considered as a treatment option.
  • Vinegar or meat tenderizer – place on jelly sting and then scrape with a dull instrument like a credit card.
  • Baking soda paste placed on stings
  • Soaking in and rubbing with salt water

These are the ones that I knew offhand.  Then a google search turned up this lovely item.  http://www.wikihow.com/Soothe-a-Jellyfish-Sting  I love the illustrations and step 2 recommendation.  Guess I missed that step.  Also don’t rub sand in the sting as you may already have blisters and this can cause infection.   Frankly I think rubbing is just a bad idea overall for jelly stings.

Even if we had brought vinegar, baking soda or meat tenderizer on the boat there would not have been nearly enough for me to cover essentially my whole body.   I would require a tub for that type of application and probably a whale hoist to lower me in and hold me steady.  Then I began to worry if we went down that route how long in a tub of vinegar before you are considered a pickle?  I had already been brined in salt water, so really I wasn’t too many steps away from pickles.  Then the credit card.  I forgot to stash one in my pocket.  Oh wait, I don’t have a credit card pocket in my swimming suit.  What would I buy anyways in the middle of a channel?  A vowel, a clue?  And while I knew that the pain from the stings was dulled in salt water, I wasn’t exactly itching to get back in the North Channel.  So a hot shower was what I had. 

While in the shower, I determined that it was most likely the stings that were making me feel cold vs. the frigid water.  Basically I felt mostly warm 10 minutes into the shower, but the shivering wouldn’t stop.  I took this to be a reaction to the venom, which was confirmed later at home.  Since I had unlimited hot water and confirmation that no one was waiting for the shower,  I gave myself an extra 10 minutes.   I said that I’d stay in the shower for “9 hours, 34 minutes, and 39 seconds” to even my time in the North Channel, but really it was only 20 minutes.   I’m about water conservation after all 🙂

Then I got quickly dressed.  Remember I said that I had been stung in prior days training sessions?  Well I learned that having a layer of tight clothing under a layer of warmer clothing is really helpful.  This keeps the fabric from moving against the skin and causing any leftover jelly stingers from firing.  Yes they stay on even after showering.  They are sticky little buggers and live in water so they don’t necessarily come off just using water.  I bet Nike Pro was never considered for this use!

After the 3 hour boat ride back to Northern Ireland and a small celebration with photos, I drove my crew member and I back home.  Thankfully she offered to cook dinner while I took another shower.  This time with the aforementioned vinegar and credit card.  Then into another set of clean clothes.  I knew that now I just had to ride the tide of the venom process.  Basically your skin feels like it is on fire with the massive pin pricks thus leading to internal singing of “This Girl Is On Fire” by Alicia Keys.  To the actual touch, the skin feels sticky as it is what I call weeping – sticky, wet and cool to the touch.   I believe this either to be the skin working out  the venom or the venom working on the skin cells.  Either way not pleasant.  This lasts for about 1-2 days depending on the severity of the stings.  Seeing as I had 9 hours of stings, I labeled it on the severe side.  Needless to say, this kept me from sleeping that first night.  I did try, but then quickly got up, drew a bath and gathered all the salt in the house and dumped it in.  I stayed in this manner until the water got cold and even then I considered staying there.  I did manage to get a few hours of sleep that night eventually..in a bed not the bathtub.

The next day was pretty much the same as the evening so we did the only thing we could think of, swimming.  Yep you read that right, I went swimming the day after the event.  It allowed me to just stay in the water and feel some relief.  Day 2 after the swim…we went swimming again.  However, the burning and painful pin pricks were subsiding and transitioning into crazy itchiness.  This lasted for another day and a half.  I felt bad for people who were around me those days as I my “I’m an adult and shouldn’t scratch those areas” filter was completely overridden.  (Side note:  I think guys are born without this filter.  Just saying.)  Thankfully most of this itching was on my arms and legs, but still there were some awkward moments.  Ah another joy of open water swimming!  Want to learn more about the various types of jellies in the Irish Sea – here is a great link: http://jellyfish.ie/irish_sea_jellyfish.asp  I can confirm that I saw the Common, Blue, and Lion’s Mane.  The “Little Jellyfish” are usually the ones that take a trip down my suit and cause some major havoc on sensitive stomach skin.  Thankfully none of those on this trip.

Here is a picture of me the evening after the swim.   This is a rare photo where I am bundled up to the hilt and still shivering.   At least we have some idea of what I’ll look like when I’m 80.

Bundled Up Post swim

And here is an account of Day 2 – post swim swimming adventures.  Some good photos in this entry as well.  http://wildswim.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/blue-lough-mournes-co-down/

I know you are all still thinking about the $0.35 cents that I owed for the shower and rest assured that it was paid in full.  We can all sleep easy tonight!

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