"Reunion the Bee's Knees"

1st May 2018 is a day that Waiwera resident Samantha Wenzlick is unlikely to forget in a hurry.

1st May 2018 is a day that Waiwera resident Samantha Wenzlick (pictured right) is unlikely to forget in a hurry. On an otherwise ordinary Tuesday, the young mum had just gotten off the phone to her husband when she felt a sharp sting between her toes.

Looking down, Samantha could see she had been stung by a bee. For most people, getting stung isn’t a big deal. For Samantha however, it would become a matter of life and death.

Samantha had been stung before, while with a friend, when she was pregnant.

“I developed an allergic reaction that time, but was told pregnancy hormones may have triggered it,” Samantha says, “so I didn’t think too much of it, this second time around.”

In a remote farm location, out of cell phone coverage, Samantha alone, with two young daughters in her care, wasn’t going to take any chances however. She calmly went about preparing for the worst.

“I opened the front gate and tied up the dogs. I rang my mother and told her what had happened and not to worry, and prepared my kids,” Samantha said, “That was the scariest part. I told my eldest daughter to stay put and watch over her baby sister if Mummy ‘went to sleep for a while’.”

With breathing labored and heart racing, Samantha plunged an epi-pen full of life-saving adrenaline into her leg and dialed 111 on her landline.

“I was trying to string my address together when I passed out,” she says.

Samantha isn’t the only person in the Rodney region to be afflicted by the tiniest of creatures in 2018. This year so far, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter has attended nine cases of anaphylaxis due to wasp or bee stings, a significantly higher number than 2017’s two. Recording artist Ladi6’s high-profile attack in Matheson Bay, which the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter also attended, was over Waitangi weekend.

Danielle Johanson (pictured left), however, was perhaps the unluckiest anaphylaxis patient of all with three separate incidents over the space of just two weeks. All the result of wasp stings. If wasps could make a bee line last summer, this school girl from Snells Beach was surely top of their list.

Danielle’s attacks happened on Saturday 24th February at Snells Beach, Friday 2nd March at Sandspit, and Monday 5th March again at Snells Beach.

For mum Jude, the first incident was the scariest. Danielle had been stung before but had never suffered an allergic reaction. This was uncharted territory for both mum and daughter.  Pruning her Dad’s hedge, Danielle was stung three times which ended with Westpac 2 crew coming to provide life-saving aid.

The second attack was the hardest for Danielle. She was at a friend’s send off in Sandspit. Feeling cold, she pulled her mum’s jumper over her. Jude, being a gardener however, had trapped a wasp under her sleeve. Danielle was stung a second time, only this time she passed out. “I remember hearing Mum crying,” Danielle says, “It was really scary.”

 

Danielle’s third wasp sting incident would happen when she went to collect the family cat from under a hedge. Jude’s first time reaction hearing that the rescue helicopter would come was, “this must be really serious.” By this third time, mum’s thoughts were, “Thank goodness they’re here!”

For all four sting incidents involving Samantha and Danielle, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters, were tasked. Intensive Care Paramedic Marcel Driessen, who was tasked to Samantha’s, and the third of Danielle’s unfortunate accidents, remembers them well.

“If Samantha had not administered that first dose of adrenaline using her epi-pen, it’s unlikely she would be with us today,” he says.

Samantha and Danielle’s stories do have happy ending thanks to the quick thinking of their loved ones.

Samantha’s mum rang back. When Samantha didn’t answer, she rang Samantha’s mother-in-law, who was closer and knew Samantha’s neighbour. This neighbour looked after Samantha’s daughters, while her mum-in-law arrived with two more epi-pens.

“Eventually Samantha’s critical status was downgraded to moderate,” Marcel says, “All because of the quick thinking and actions of Sam and her loved ones.”

“Two of Danielle’s events were serious which means she could have died,” Marcel says, “With Samantha and Danielle living in remote areas, getting the vital help they need can take a while by road. It’s great we could be there for them when they needed us most.”

Danielle, would get stung one more time at school but an emergency flight by helicopter to hospital wasn’t required. While feeling just as nervous as the first time, Jude, and the school, had this one under control.

Recently Samantha, Danielle and Jude got to meet Marcel again.

In the spirit of fun, the girls are pictured with Marcel dressed in Intensive Care Paramedic Casey Drum’s bee suits. Casey attended Danielle’s second incident. Beekeeping is one of his hobbies.

Readers can be assured, no bees or people were harmed while putting the suits on.

Photo: Matt Meikle.

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