Let me tell you my recent experience with a nest of yellow jackets. Or maybe I should call this, as one of my friends suggested, the "buzz in the bedroom."
About six weeks ago we had one of those hard rain storms, and we had closed all the windows in the house. Once the storm was over in late afternoon, I went around opening windows to let the fresh air in.
When I was opening one of our bedroom windows, I noticed three or four of what I thought were wasps in the window. I was concerned. Where did they come from? But I went and got the fly swatter to kill them.
Then I heard a buzzing sound and looked up around the ceiling fan and light. There were many more up there, and they appeared to be coming in from around the light. My next move was not too smart. I got my shop vacuum to catch as many as I could.
In the process, I got stung on my left hand.
Normally, I do not react to stings, so I ignored this one but decided to close the bedroom door and decide on the next course of action. There were simply too many of them with more coming in from somewhere.
Neighbor Bill across the street is good at helping, so he came over and surveyed the situation with me. We decided it would be best to go up to the store to see if we could get one of those insect bombs you can set off to destroy large numbers of insects.
So we dashed uptown, found the bombs and came back. By that time, I was not feeling well at all and apparently looked like I was in trouble. Rather than take the time to call 911, my wife and neighbor put me in the car and we hustled off to the emergency room.
While we were gone, Bill set the bomb off in the bedroom for us. By morning, most of them in the room were dead.
My hand and arm were badly swollen and, in all the excitement, I had not taken my ring off my finger. The doctor said immediately it had to come off one way or another. With a lot of soapy water and pulling, we got it off.
Thankfully, my reaction was localized in my hand and arm and a dose of steroids took care of the problem, or so we thought. I was feeling better and could walk OK, so they sent me home.
Naturally, we found a different bedroom to sleep in that night. The next day, we found an exterminator who could come out right away to find out where the nest was and get rid of it.
Ours is a one-story home, and we knew it was in the space above our bedroom somewhere. The exterminator first checked outside and found out where they were going in the house, a very small hole.
Then he put on his sting-proof garb, which was heavy clothing, and crawled up into the hot attic. His guess was he would find a nest about the size of a softball. He found it, sprayed it with a chemical to kill what turned out to be yellow jackets, and destroyed the nest. It was the size of a football.
He put it in a plastic bag and brought it down for us to dispose of, then went outside and dusted the area where they came in so they would not use it again.
Three days later, I had a doctor's appointment for another reason and, in the waiting room, glanced at my arm. Bright red streak and blotches that I had not noticed were going up my arm.
One quick look by the doctor and he said that the arm is infected. Eight days of steroids and antibiotics took care of the problem, and I have been fine since then.
So much for my yellow jacket experience. And yes, I probably did some things that were not too smart. Hopefully I learned from the experience.
Parker is an independent writer for the Tribune.