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Beekeeper Receives Life-Saving Treatment After Suffering Multiple Bee Stings

Monday, April 08, 2013

Beekeeper Receives Life-Saving Treatment After Suffering Multiple Bee Stings

“If it weren’t for Dr. Modad and his wonderful staff, I may not be alive today,” said beekeeper Charles Jeckmen, whose life was saved at the Cuba Medical Clinic after 35 beestings and an allergic reaction.

Beekeeping was a passion that 80-year-old St. Louis resident, Charles Jecmen, developed as a young boy after reading an article about the queen bee and her role in the honey-making process. Once he entered retirement, Charles decided to pursue his lifelong interest to become a beekeeper.

For the last 11 years, he has traveled nearly every week from St. Louis to his tree farm in Cuba, Mo., maintaining the property’s seven beehives and harvesting the honey to sell at a local farmer’s market.

“As a beekeeper, I’m fortunate that I’ve been stung only a handful of times over the years,” said Charles. “And I’ve never had a bee allergy, so the bee stings never really bothered me much.”

That all changed on Sept. 27, 2012. While visiting his tree farm, Charles noticed that one of the beehives had turned over causing the bees to become rather agitated.

He carefully approached the beehive wearing a beekeeper suit and veil. However, the veil was not properly attached, leaving a small opening with access to his face and upper body. When Charles bent over to move the beehive, a group of bees flew up through the opening and stung him multiple times – 35 stings to be exact.

Charles immediately jumped in his truck and drove into town in search of the nearest doctor’s office. He was in a lot of pain and worried about the extent of his injuries. “I was worried my face and eyes were going to swell shut, so I knew I needed to get medical attention quickly,” he recalled.

After driving for six miles, Charles was directed to the Cuba Clinic by a local store owner. He stumbled into the lobby and told the nurses that he had just been stung numerous times. Realizing the seriousness of his condition, the nurses rushed Charles back to an exam room, before they could even ask his name. Dr. Musa Modad, an internal medicine specialist on staff at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital, the Sullivan Clinic and Cuba Clinic, rushed to the exam room to evaluate him.

“Considering the circumstances, Charles seemed to be doing fairly well when I first saw him,” recalled Dr. Modad. “However, as soon as I began to ask him some questions about his medical history, he passed out. His blood pressure was extremely low. In fact, he turned completely blue, stopped breathing and had no detectable pulse.”

It was clear that Charles was having a severe allergic reaction to the bee stings. To combat the effects, Dr. Modad administered a shot of epinephrine. Unfortunately, the first one didn’t appear to work, so he gave Charles a second shot along with some Benadryl. Dr. Modad also gave him some oxygen and prepared to insert an IV. That’s when Charles woke up.

“He was sweating profusely, yet very much alert,” said Dr. Modad. “By then, my staff had called for an ambulance to transport Charles to Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital for further treatment.”

Once Charles arrived at the hospital, the emergency department staff continued to evaluate his condition and monitor his blood pressure. He was released from the hospital approximately three hours later, after his blood pressure stabilized. One week later, Charles had a follow-up appointment with his primary care doctor in St. Louis, who recommended keeping an epinephrine pen handy to treat future bee stings. Fortunately, Charles has already taken certain precautions to avoid any more bee sting incidents – he officially retired from beekeeping altogether. Instead, he is primarily focused on maintaining his tree farm.

Charles is very lucky – he hasn’t suffered any side effects since the bee sting incident. He also hasn’t forgotten the medical help he received from the Cuba Clinic. As a special ‘thank you,’ Charles delivered some freshly harvested honey to the office staff around the Thanksgiving holiday. He also wanted to formally introduce himself, since he wasn’t able to do so the first time they met.

“If it weren’t for Dr. Modad and his wonderful staff, I may not be alive today,” said Charles. “I am so thankful that I stumbled into their medical office that day. Dr. Modad knew exactly what to do to reverse the effects of my allergic reaction to the bee stings.”