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Getting an Acetylcholine injection

This week: Getting an acetylcholine injection; A bit of reconfiguration; Rain works wonders;

A freshened forest
A freshened forest

I’ve had lots of pain and no real gain this week.

OK, that is an exaggeration, I have made progress but it has mostly been inside.

We have had some much needed rain, not a huge amount, but enough to freshen things up. Just 3.5 mm fell, so 3½ litters per square meter.

It was the right kind of rain too. Although it was the very edge of a thunderstorm, the rain was gentle so it has soaked in rather than just running off the top.

Then as I sat down to write this blog after lunch there was a rumble of distant thunder.

I checked Blitzortung.com and there is a storm over Split, 28 kilometres to the north.

Saturday afternoon storm over Split
Saturday afternoon storm over Split

The storm looks impressive, but to the east there was a much more significant Cumulonimbus cloud over Brač. Red circles are lightning strikes within the past 10 seconds.

Saturday afternoon storm over Split
Saturday afternoon storm over Split
Impressive cumulonimbus cloud over Brac
Impressive Cumulonimbus cloud over Brač

An hour later and the Split storm was moving slowly towards Dol, with the potential for more rain.

Slowly moving SSE
Slowly moving SSE

By the time I finished today’s blog, the storm has dissipated and we haven’t seen a drop of rain!

Oh well, may be next week then…

Getting an acetylcholine injection

I’ve been in pain this week following an injection!

Watering plants in the orchard on Thursday tea time, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my calf.

Looking down there was a hornet on my leg, so I brushed it away, but not fast enough to prevent further stings. I have to say it hurt at the time and 48 hours later, the sting site still hurts.

The European Hornets only attack when they are threatened or angry.

European Hornet
European Hornet

I suspect it was on the stone path feeding on some fallen fruit, as they like sugars, and I didn’t see it and stepped on it.

They generally leave non-prey alone, so I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I’ve been stung by bees and wasps before, and whilst they can be painful at the time, the site can quickly be soothed with some Anthisan cream, which I always have available.

However Anthisan took some of the fire out of these stings, but hasn’t stopped the pain.

This made me look at the European Hornet, Vespa Crabro, to see what is is they inject and how.

This was because each of the puncture wounds the insect left bled afterwards. You don’t see that with bee and wasp stings.

Most people know bees only sting once because their stinger is barbed and remains in the skin, with the venom sack still pumping venom after they have been knocked away.

Wasps and Hornets, which are different species, don’t have barbed stingers like Bees and can and do sting multiple times.

Anatomy of a Hornet stinger
Anatomy of a Hornet stinger – 0.15 mm in diameter

The European Hornet is a large insect, up to 2.5 cm in length, however it is only the females which sting. Their actual stinger can be 8 mm in length, which probably accounts for my discomfort.

Hornet stinger
Hornet stinger

Human Calf muscles are quite large and close to the surface of the skin.

Human calf muscles
Human calf muscles

It got me on the bulbous part of the gastrocnemius. I have a patch the area of the palm of my hand which is inflamed, feels hot to the touch, is sore and is painful when I walk.

I suspect that the Hornet injected me with several doses of venom, a major component of which is acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, through the skin and direct into the muscle.

Certainly the pain was instantaneous and has been long lasting, even disturbing my sleep. At least I know I am not allergic to the venom! The pain is just localised around the injection points.

Sometimes I do wonder though about the motivation of some people.

I found the video below on YouTube, which shows a very determined cameraman, trying to photograph European Hornets. Even deliberately getting stung, all captured in slow motion.

This is a still frame from the video.

Hornet sting in action
Hornet sting in action

By their reputation, there is no way I am going to disturb a Hornets nest, no matter what the reason.

I still regard them as a gardeners friend though, because of the number of caterpillars and insects they take to feed their young. It was my fault because I didn’t ‘see and avoid’.

So this has rather curtailed my activities at the end of the week. Even sitting can be painful if I catch my calf on the chair!

A bit of reconfiguration

I fight a fairly constant battle with dust in the buildings.

From Spring to Autumn I have all the windows and doors open, with insect screens across them.

However whilst the fine mesh does trap some wind borne dust and pollen, evidenced by the pale colour outside in the autumn, they don’t prevent everything coming inside.

The windowsills are always covered in dust and grains of sand, as fine as talcum powder. However I’m prepared to accept it because the air movement keeps the house cool.

My outside environment is “difficult”. With my soils baked hard but having a surface of fine sand, it catches on the soles of your shoes.

The courtyard is reminiscent of a builders yard because I still don’t have the stone sets laid. So it is just sand on sandstone.

And guess what, the felines enjoy a roll in the sand, and then they come inside.

I have seven floor mats, in strategic locations, which by the amount of debris they trap do a good job, but they don’t stop everything. So after a while, there is a fine layer of dust absolutely everywhere.

Between other jobs I have been thinking about a dedicated computer for scanning images.

As I posted last week, I have boxes and boxes of photographs, from the mid 19th century onwards, in a variety of formats. They need to be preserved!

Boxes of material for scanning
Boxes of material for scanning

As I moved the desk scanners which were attached to this computer, I realised I haven’t moved them to dust since last autumn.

Having a separate computer with 1Tb of storage, dedicated to scanning will make the work a lot easier.

Just a little dust
Just a little dust

So this week I have cleared my study desk put a separate large screen computer onto the desk – yes, it’s a big desk – and then rerouted all the wires.

I could have used wire-less technology but I find that image transfer is faster with a USB2/3 wire. I don’t trust wireless!

Wireless technology
Wireless technology

Getting everything back in place, including a new automatic 35 mm film strip scanner has been the easy part.

New scanning work station
New scanning work station

I now need some time to install the specialist image handling software and the drivers for the various types of scanner.

So this is another of those “watch this space” jobs!

Rain works wonders

The morning after the rain this week, I walked one of my favourite paths through the Maquis.

The air was fresh and clear, and the rain falling on the trees and plants had released their scents.

Forest refreshed after the rain
Forest refreshed after the rain

There were the oils from the pines and the smell of damp foliage from Rock Roses which line the paths.

Rock Roses which have very deep roots are the only plants which have not turned brown.

There are large patches of Cladonia sp Lichen. Even after just a small amount of rain, these lichens have become soft and pliable like a sponge.

Cladonia sp Lichen
Cladonia sp Lichen

My gardens and orchards have appreciated the rain too.

Absolutely at it’s northern most extent, this is the Egyptian Star Cluster, Pentas lancelotata.

Egyptian Star Cluster
Egyptian Star Cluster

It likes poor soil and adds much needed bright colour in the middle of a Mediterranean summer. The brilliant red star shaped flowers give it its name.

Flowers of Pentas lanceolata
Flowers of Pentas lanceolata

Originally from Yemen and the Nile and Red Sea coasts, it is definitely a tropical species, but it will survive in zones USDA10 / Sunset23.

I am in 9B/10 or 21/23, so I am on the borderline which means I have to look after it, should there be a winter cold snap. NCG

2 Responses

  1. Dave

    Hi Rob
    After all the dust shown to accumulate under the PC equipment, have you thought of opening the PC itself as it may require some internal dusting also? Fine dust can sure cause havoc with any moving parts like fans and CD drives and in particular scanners.

    By the way, I enjoy your weekly writings!

    Dave USA

  2. Marcy

    Hi Norman,
    I am so sorry you had the hornet sting. I’ve had my fair share of them as a kid as well as most types of bees. The one that really did a job on me was a big fat bumble bee. I was about 8 or 9, and the bee got caught in my shorts while I was on the teeter-totter. It stung me 6 times on my thigh, and I thought I was going to die. But, interestingly enough, an old wife’s tail of putting wet nicotine on the bites, and the swelling went way down quickly, but the hurt stayed for a few days.

    Loved the flower pictures. So beautiful in your area. Thanks for sharing as always. Hope you feel better soon. Marcy