I stepped on one of these furry bees back in the early 80’s – got it stuck right between between two of my toes. By the time I pried it out, it stung me something fierce. My foot got puffy and sore, but it turns out the worst was yet to come.
Less than an hour later I was at the emergency room having trouble breathing and experiencing the most piercing headache I’d felt. Bee allergy was the diagnosis, after a battery of tests detected a dangerous sensitivity. The doctor gave me a kit with an epinephrine injection and told me I’d be carrying it around with me for the rest of my life, ready to jab the needle into my thigh in case another bee attacked.
It would be years before I was stung again, and thankfully, the allergic reaction never returned. But the fear remained. I refused to go outside in gym class at middle school, scared a bee would sting me. I was stung riding downhill on a couple of bike rides, and stopped nervously at the side of the trail to take my pulse and check my breathing. I even thought about my “allergy” the other day, when I brushed a nest with a broom and was stung in front of my house.
It took me years to realize that initial reaction was the extent of my bee allergy – although I still do carry Benadryl around just in case. Turns out you can grow out of a bee allergy.
Which brings me to my back, and the point of this post. I also think it’s possible to grow out of a back injury. For me, it required trusting that I wouldn’t hurt myself and getting on the bike, hitting the weights or jumping on the treadmill. In this way I learned, no matter how much my back ached, it always felt better after exercise.
I took this to heart Saturday morning, when I got up early after planning a 30-mile mountain bike ride. My back was sore because my knee had been bothering me – always a recipe for lower back ache in my body.
Five minutes in, cycling up a wildflower-covered ski slope in Park City, my back didn’t hurt anymore. And 25 miles later, even after I caught a handlebar on deadfall and took a tumble over my bars, it still felt fine.