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It felt like I stepped on a searing hot nail. Blazing pain shot through my foot. I was in a focused hurry so by the time I picked up my foot and turned to look I didn’t see anything on the floor but the terra-cotta colored tile. I finished my project, ran up the stairs and lay down next to my husband with my feet up. We talked for a bit… our usual nightly routine, while I waited for the pain to subside. Instead it grew. “I think I stepped on something downstairs,” I calmly told my husband. No sense in making a big deal out of nothing. He had to get up early and needed his sleep.

“Let me see,” Allen reached for my foot and I winced. The pain pulsed and gradually radiated up my leg and a tingly feeling crept up from my toes. The results of his inspection revealed the tiniest pinprick of a spot on my foot instead of the torn flesh that should accompany this kind of pain. My foot still in his hand, the tingling reached my shoulders. Then the tremors started. First my hands shook, then my legs and once my head filled with the fuzzy fog, my jaw shuddered uncontrollably. Piecing things together, Allen got on the phone to poison control. “Yep,” replied the voice on the other end of the line. “She was stung by a bark scorpion.” My symptoms were all the confirmation she needed. “She’ll be okay,” the voice counseled. “It’s just not going to be a fun night and symptoms might linger for a day or two.”

We elevated my foot and my husband went to bed. I lay in the dark for hour upon hour as my body shook and jerked and a ceaseless steam of tears drenched my pillow. My mouth felt somehow full of tongue and at some point the sensation of cold water being poured over my head, followed by a similar warm shower, joined and haunted me for the rest of the night.

I prayed for sleep. And when that wouldn’t work I nudged my husband and asked him to find a way to knock me out. I begged. Not my finest hour. It was another couple hours until sleep overcame me. I woke to my baby’s cries down the hall and as I stood from my bed, my leg wouldn’t hold me. Nausea came and went all day along with headaches and pain around the sting. Days later and halfway down my stairwell with a baby in my arms my leg again turned to Jello. My free hand shot out to grab the banister and the other clung to my child.

Two months later I was stung again and was pleasantly surprised to find that all scorpions are not created equal. Although painful, the sting of this scorpion was localized and endurable.

Strangely, living through the sting of a bark scorpion has left me less phobic than I was before. Not to mention that I finally feel like a true desert dweller.