Written by Brett Weiss
About a week ago, as I worked to clean a hot tub in southern Arizona where I currently reside, a bark scorpion stung my right ankle. I moved to Arizona about six years ago so do not consider myself a native and have limited familiarity with what to expect from stings and bites of the local arachnids. I grew up in the Midwest. I used to visit Arizona from a very young age and always had a strong fascination with the desert animals. Thus, as morbid as it may sound, I find it somewhat ‘cool’ that I experienced the sting and subsequent envenomation from a bark scorpion. I did not seek medical attention after the sting as the exterminator who visits my home monthly has always downplayed the importance of seeking medical help should a sting occur. I had previously accepted the possibility that a scorpion could sting me since the desert lays just beyond the back fence of my house. At the same time, I considered the possibility relatively unlikely as I know other people in this region who have lived here their whole lives without getting stung.
I did not experience a tremendous amount of pain initially from the sting. The sting itself felt like the sting of a wasp– perhaps a bit more intense but not much. A few minutes after the envenomation, I felt dizzy and light-headed. My heart rate increased significantly as well (tachycardia). I also noticed that I could not sit still. Since getting stung, I have done a bit of research on scorpion stings and have found that these symptoms are quite common in those who get stung as the venom from scorpions is a neurotoxin (affecting the brain and spinal cord). Clinicians call the restlessness and inability to sit still ‘motor hyperactivity,’ which has something to do with the scorpion venom’s effects on sodium and potassium ion channels in the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Of note, the motor hyperactivity and elevated heart rate interrupted my sleep the night after the sting (the sting occurred around 8 PM).
A scorpion stung me. I got through it. It was not a big deal. The sting did not induce much pain. The primary source of discomfort from the ordeal came from losing out on a decent night’s sleep due to restlessness, inability to sit still, and elevated heart rate. The dizziness and light-headedness subsided three to four hours after the sting. In order to prevent such an event from occurring again, I bought some ‘scorpion killer’ spray and sprayed the substance all around that hot tub as well as various other nooks around the backyard that scorpions may infest.