My husband and I had done a lot of planning for our move to Mexico, but somehow overemphasized the “getting ready to move” phase and completely overlooked a few things about actually living in Mexico. It’s kind of like how when you’re pregnant, you obsess over cloth diaper selections, nursery decor, and the daily fruit representation of the little human growing inside of you instead of, you know, figuring out what the hell to do with said human once they have crossed over to the other side. Well, that’s us. With Mexico.
A few days before flying from Sidney BC to Guanajuato, we read the “welcome” email from the owner of the home we are renting and our jaws dropped when we came across the recommendations about scorpions. WTF? Scorpions? No. Not happening. We did what any repulsed, anxious-leaning people would do and asked google everything we needed to know and learned that a) Some species are fatal. But only for most vulnerable people, like toddlers. Perfect; b) We should probably have nets for the beds; c) Many places in Mexico, Central and South America have scorpions, including places we have been to for extended periods. How the hell have scorpions never shown up on my radar?
Fast forward a couple anxious emails later. In all of their 10+ years in Guanajuato, the owners of our rental have only come across one scorpion. Really? OK. Exhale. I hear angels. Oh and they will fumigate the shit out of the home before we arrive so that those little buggers stay far away. This is when I started to realize that me fearing scorpions is probably the same as a tourist coming to Canada thinking they’ll get attacked by a cougar. Not likely, right?
Fast forward to yesterday, pre morning outing. I opted for my cute above-the-knee, strappy, micro-floral-print coral dress with my newly coveted black high top converse. It would have been so lovely. But I didn’t make it out the door become some asshole scorpion shot it’s staple-gun stinger into my big toe. And the worst part was, I even banged my shoes together and tried to shake any squatters out of there! I followed the rules god dammit!
So there I was, laying on the floor screaming for my husband to get out of his man cave (i.e., bathroom) while my two toddlers stroked my arms and asked what was wrong. Before yesterday, I had wondered why people wouldn’t “catch-and-release” scorpions, but watching my husband demolish that rat-bastard was the hottest thing ever. Highly recommend it. But seriously, after only one botched attempt by accidentally hitting the door with his shoe (so funny, by the way), he murdered that son-of-a-bitch with one swoop. Then Nola, our oldest, got all excited and started pretending to bash something, hysterically laughing at herself. Oh the comedy.
Lucky for us, our Spanish tutor, Sergio, also happens to be an MD with many years of ER experience in the US. Seriously. So. Convenient. Turns out this specific species is considered “non-dangerous” so I’m in the clear. And now that this encounter is behind me, here is what you can expect if you arrive at the same fate while simply trying to give your sandal-wearing feet a break.
What to Expect From a Scorpion Sting
- Pain. Shortly after the sting, I described the sensation as a large needle being slowly inserted into my skin, and then it kept going…and going…to the point where I didn’t even know where the epicentre was. Half of my foot was screaming in agony, and the pain signals didn’t stop for hours. Eventually they would come and go, almost like contractions in my foot. Ugh. Some extra-strength Tylenol seemed to help. And laying low. After about 6 or so hours, I felt nothing. Literally, the pain was completely gone. I packed my toddler in the carrier and headed out for the afternoon, minding my step of course.
- Fear. It seems like for Mexicans, scorpions are either a slight nuisance or a non-issue. In fact we were told that every home in Guanajuato, modern or not, will have scorpions so there is no use in trying to escape them if we plan to stay in this part of the world. Fear of what we don’t know can be intense! I could feel a major adrenaline surge and sense of panic set in, manly because I had no idea how serious this was, nor what to do about it. Some scorpions are very dangerous (we were told the ones that are lighter in colour), so it makes sense to be concerned and afraid. Just be sure to get in touch with a doctor as soon as you can (and bring a picture of the scorpion, or even better, bring the scorpion…dead-or-alive I suppose). After seeking some medical advice, best thing to do is calm down, take a breath, and let the fear pass. It’s not that helpful at that point anyway…the bastard already got you.
- Perspective. What is most surprising after getting stung is that I can smile about it and honestly say that I am glad it happened. Part of me is terrified that one of our girls will have the same experience, but at least I have a sense of what it would feel like for them (while also knowing that a tiny little confused toddler would likely react more severely). I also have the experience of feeling completely fine within a few hours. I didn’t know it would be this way. We have had a few good laughs, have become more cautious (in a responsible way), and gained some hilarious comic strip ideas featuring a ill-fated scorpion antagonist.
What sticks with me most after getting stung is a major case of the hee-bee-gee-bees. This is so so real. More real than I have ever experienced in my life. It’s almost to the point of having a constant creep-out chill (or a pee-chill, as my sisters and I believe perfectly describes the sensation). And the funny thing is, that very same morning my husband and I spoke about how we are starting to feel comfortable and settled in this home.
Ha! Not quite yet. The universe is funny that way. Don’t get too comfy, she tells us. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep challenging yourself.
Author: Kate Butler
Kate Butler is a writer, a wanderer, a digital nomad. A mother of two, lover to one, and dedicated to living an inspired, colourful life. She co-authors Flipping Moons and has an online therapy practice, LiveLight Counselling.