The Small Business Owner’s Wife Gets Stung By a Scorpion

Part 5 in the #sbowife series

Elisa Watson
Sep 8, 2016 · 8 min read
Arizona: Home of beautiful sunsets and scorpions

I was stung by a scorpion recently. The dreaded bark scorpion, to be precise. Most websites that talk about the bark scorpion will suggest that a sting from a bark scorpion may kill you, but not to fret because most people will never encounter one since they are only to be found in the Sonoran desert.

This is not reassuring to residents of the Sonoran desert (and there are about 7 million of us).

However, on Arizona-specific websites (e.g. sites for local exterminators and such) you’ll find a calmer perspective. Yes, bark scorpions are capable of packing a serious punch, but it’s pain you have to be concerned with, not death. The pain spreads, it runs its course, and within a few hours it starts to fade.

That description fit my experience. It hurt, badly, in the evening when it first happened, my sleep that night was fitful, by the next morning the pain was only mild, and by the following evening I just had localized numbness around the finger where the sting happened. (And that numbness continued for several weeks afterwards.)

That’s a clinical-sounding description of my experience. Here’s the non-clinical description:

My husband was out of town at Boy Scout camp with our oldest son, and they were totally off the grid. Our other three boys were home with me, and we had just finished dinner and I was about to get them ready for bed. I walked past a cardboard desk we had (my husband is something of a Kickstarter junkie, and this one was a winner…until it became a home for a scorpion), and I stooped down to pick up a piece of cardboard that had fallen off the chair so I could replace it.

Cardboard Desk aka Scorpion Apartment

Fun fact: in addition to bark, bark scorpions like cardboard!

The thing about the sting is that it didn’t just hurt, it felt electrifying. I screamed. I’d love to say I reacted calmly, but I screamed. I saw the culprit scurry into the cardboard chair I’d been on the brink of repairing, and then I started frenetically wandering through the house with no clear thought of what I ought to do. I ran my finger under cold water in the kitchen sink, I grabbed an ice pack, I informed my boys (somewhat alarmed at this point) about the presence of a scorpion, I shouted at them when they tried to go see it. I started texting friends for moral support because IT WAS STILL IN THE HOUSE.

“Long Grabby Arm Stick Thingie”

I knew I had to dispose of it, but that freaked me out more than the sting did. We have one of those long grabby arm stick thingies (may or may not be its official name) so I got that out, used it to grab the back of the cardboard chair, and then dragged it out the front door, praying all the while that the scorpion was still in there and that it would not run out and go under any big pieces of furniture where I wouldn’t be able to reach it.

This is the part where you’ll wish you’d been one of my neighbors, watching this scene unfold from behind a window: I got the chair outside and started kicking it, repeatedly, until that horrible and ugly little arachnid of pain came creeping out. Then I started swinging wildly at it with the long grabby arm stick thingie, which was generally not very effective but friends, I needed to keep some distance between us! I finally landed a hit that made its tail pop off, and then I — a usually peace-loving and compassionate wife and mother and reader of books and baker of cookies — grabbed my shoe and repeatedly smashed it, shouting “I hate you!” at it through clenched teeth.

{I apologize if you are sensitive about killing things. Please make an exception for this predatory and dangerous insect that was in my house hanging out on something MY CHILDREN PLAY WITH.}

If you were my neighbor, you would have then seen me walking back and forth from our house to the recycling bin as I dismantled the cardboard desk and disposed of it piece by piece. It was the only logical thing to do.

At that point a compassionate friend arrived with Benadryl for me. (Children’s Benadryl because we’re moms, and why would we have anything else??) She herself had been stung for the first time just a few days before, so we shared our stories, feeling (quite literally) each other’s pain.

The #sbowife’s sister is a very good artist.

Over the next few days I told my story and heard many more. I found a website that included 100 personal accounts of scorpion stings. One thing I learned: people LOVE to talk about their experiences with pain (myself included, it turns out).

This doesn’t only go for scorpion stings, either. If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know that anyone else who has ever been pregnant wants to tell you all about their experiences — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Same for people who’ve had surgery, or had wisdom teeth removed, or who have broken a bone or had the stomach flu. And same for people who have had difficult, frustrating, or traumatic experiences, even where no physical discomfort was involved. If it was painful or uncomfortable, we want to talk about it.

NOT us.

They say that misery loves company, and in this case I think that’s okay. Because here’s the thing about our love of sharing stories of hardship: I don’t think it’s a glass-is-half-empty kind of thing. I don’t think we’re a bunch of Eeyores, mumbling about the unfairness of the world. I think we love sharing these stories not because we felt pain but because we endured the pain. We survived it.

One thing I’ve learned as a Small Business Owner’s Wife is that this is certainly true in the world of entrepreneurship. Through talking to others and experiencing it firsthand with my husband, it seems that some things are practically universal, and if you’re reading this as a small business owner, you can probably attest to the truth of these things: Starting a business is scary. Getting it off the ground can be frustrating. Making it successful can seem next to impossible. Along the way, you spend large amounts of money on lawyers and consultants and insurance, you make hiring and firing mistakes, you make tax-filing mistakes, you plan marketing strategies that backfire, you have months where you can’t give yourself a paycheck because the business is barely squeaking by. You have success stories sprinkled through and in between these stories, but chances are you have lots of growing pains. And if those growing pains lead to actual growth, then you want to tell people!

Pain — whether physical, emotional or professional — reminds us of our frailty, and surviving the pain reminds us of our resilience. It’s humbling AND it’s empowering. How many things in our life are like that?

Before ever being stung by a scorpion, I kinda liked hearing stories from those who had been. I’d secretly harbored this fear that getting stung was akin to a death sentence, so hearing people talk about their experiences helped it to sound normal and less frightening. When things get tough, there’s a strange camaraderie in knowing that others have gone through the same thing and lived to tell the tale.

I’ve mentioned before that we fostered a little girl for nearly two years, and that was hard, start to finish, although there was sweetness in it too. One of the best things for me at that time was talking to people who were going through the same things, or had gone through them. One of the best ways to know I wasn’t losing my mind was to talk to people who clearly hadn’t lost theirs yet still understood what I was talking about. On days when I stood in my kitchen and felt like chaos and pain were exploding around me, it helped to remember that countless other foster parents had faced the same storm and emerged onto dry ground.

Life is hard, but we all experience the hardness is one way or another, be it scorpion stings or broken bones or business blunders, or pain of a deeper order. So I say, keep telling your stories, not to get sympathy but to share empathy. Tell your stories of pain and difficulty and healing and triumph. Your stories may entertain, horrify, sadden or delight, but there’s a good chance they’ll provide some hope to someone too.

End note: I showed this post to my husband Todd, and he said half-sadly, half-jokingly: “Well, now no one will want to visit us.” I admit I had the same thought! We love having people come to visit and we love having people stay in our home and I don’t want to tell stories about living here that will make people choose to stay away. So let me offer two thoughts. 1) Todd grew up here and can’t recall ever even seeing a scorpion in or around the house he lived in. I lived here for ten years the first time around and never saw one. We’ve been back for over five years now and only just experienced our first stings (yes, Todd was stung not long ago as well). Getting stung is not actually a very common occurrence, and many people live here and never even see scorpions. 2) We don’t have tornadoes here. We don’t have hurricanes or floods or earthquakes or ice storms or snowstorms. What we have are these bizarre little demon bugs. They’re awful, but if the threat of hurricanes doesn’t keep you from visiting Disney World, then please don’t let the threat of scorpions keep you from visiting us!

Elisa Watson

Written by

I am the wife of small business owner Todd (showit.co) and mother to four boys. I have also spent some time as a foster mama (read more at elisajoyful.com).

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