Surviving A Scorpion Sting in Costa Rica

Mar 4, 2020     Costa Rica     Leaves and Critters, My Adventures
Here he is, the critter that got me!
Here he is, the critter that got me!
"It's like a bee sting" my butt! Here's what it's really like to go through this tropical rite of passage.

The Sting

I had just walked back from the common outdoor kitchen (rancho) to my cabina on the beach in the jungles of southern Costa Rica. My hostess and the man staying in the other cabina were on their way out for the night, and I was feeling like a mellow night at home. Even though I was in a somewhat "developed" town, it's where the true jungle meets the beach. Sloths in the canopy, boa constrictors (and various other snakes) are somewhat common, goodness knows what types of biting insects, kinkajous in the trees, agoutis, coati, and other oddball tropical fauna abound.

It wasn't a far walk to my little stand-alone room (raised up about 4 feet off the ground, by the way), about 50 yards on a dirt path. After feeling I had successfully avoided the plethora of rather large purple & red crabs and huge toads that were usually out at night, I turned my flashlight off as I went up the stairs to my front door. As soon as I opened my door and stepped across the threshold, I felt something bite the side of my foot. Ouch!

I spun around and flipped the light on to see what had gotten me, but there was nothing there. Ouch ouch OUCH! OMG oh no, this is not good. The pain hit me so hard and so fast, that I knew I needed help. I hobbled (yes I was already reduced to a hobble) out to the driveway to catch my friends as they were on their way out in the local taxi.
where the true jungle meets the beach ... oddball tropical fauna abound
By the time I got to the car and told them something bit me, I was actually yelling in pain. Wow, I have a pretty high pain tolerance, too. They helped me back into the rancho where I sat in a combination of tears and swearing. There was nothing; no evidence of any sting or bite! But we glommed meat tenderizer on the area that hurt and my hostess grabbed me a Benadryl. The taxi guy decided it must be from a scorpion. What?! Crap.

They pretty much carried me back to my room and only a few seconds later, sure enough we found the little bastard (scorpion) hunkered by a beam in my wall. Taxi guy scooted it out and hit it with his flip flop as it scurried across the floor with his stinger up and poised to find my foot again. Sorry buddy, you are NOT staying inside my cabina. You stung your last victim.

It had to have been either right in front of the door to my cabin, or maybe even under it. I never saw it as it got me (over my flip flop) as I walked through the threshold. I have tried to be so careful here, too! I'm not sure if I was relieved that we found it, maybe even somewhat fascinated, or just plain freaked out.
This is taken from the deck of my Costa RIca jungle beach cabina, looking out toward the rancho.
This is taken from the deck of my Costa RIca jungle beach cabina, looking out toward the rancho.
My friends left me in bed and told me to call if I needed anything. Were they really leaving me? Well that must mean that this is not a big deal. They live here and know about such things ... right?

The Pain

For the first hour, I was in excruciating pain that did not let up one bit. The throbbing would come and go and I could barely walk on it. So much pain. I cried and even yelled out in agony. Wow, again, they really left me alone with this?

About 45 minutes in, my tongue and lips started going numb and tingly. This could be worrisome. Time to get totally Zen and not panic. Don't they say that with snake bites, if your heart rate goes up, it more quickly disperses the poison in your blood stream? Deep breaths, stay calm(ish).

I certainly hope my tongue doesn't swell and I'm not able to breathe. There's pretty much nothing I could do at that point. Even if I called my friends to come back from the bar, the nearest hospital is an hour away and very few people have cars here. Shit. I never made my will.

After an hour the pain finally started to subside, but the numbness did not and my vision started getting blurry. Then my arms and hands started getting just a little bit tingly, too! What's happening? Time to reach out to someone, anyone.

I texted a guy I know who has been stung like 5 times(!) to make sure I wasn't dying, and I was also texting with my friends in San Diego, California, one of which is a nurse. They were worried as shit, but Google searches showed that my symptoms were pretty normal. Apparently the neurotoxins in the scorpion's venom cause the effects (depending on how good it got ya, and apparently it got me pretty good) and if you are allergic, you're screwed. Please don't let me be allergic, please don't let me be allergic.
I thought this would be like a bee sting. Not even close.
Whoa! That was a pretty big earthquake! The cabin shook pretty darn good. Really? What is up with this night? Two signs of my own mini apocalypse? LOL

10:30 pm (3 hours in), although I still felt it, the tingles started to subside and I had some spasms in my feet. At least it stopped getting worse. Ouch, the sting still hurts and I can't put any pressure on it. I just have to keep my foot on a pillow and not move. My friends came right over to check on me when they got home from dinner which made me feel better that someone was around.

OMG then as I was falling asleep, big waves of chills or more like full body tingles would wash over me. Soooo weird! I fell asleep hoping I'd wake up in the morning.
This is actually post-flip-flop-smash in the middle of my room.
This is actually post-flip-flop-smash in the middle of my room.
the neurotoxins in the scorpion's venom cause the effects, and if you are allergic, you're screwed

The Aftermath

I woke up the next morning pretty much ok. My mouth was still a little numb and tingly even 12 hours later but eventually that went away and you couldn't even see anything where it stung me.

9 days later: My 5-time-stung friend told me that eventually it would itch like crazy. I forgot about that until now. Yep!!

Well that was certainly an experience! All fine eventually but that was some serious pain and because I didn't know to expect any sort of reaction, the surprise of that sure freaked me out. Maybe a bit of drama and some panic for a bit, but hey, I'm a first timer over here!


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