I woke up one morning with my left eye swollen shut and a hard lump protruding from my eyebrow. The upper left region of my face had gone full puff. Nothing like this had ever happened before, and I couldn’t figure out any explanation for it. By lunchtime the swelling hadn’t gone down, so I went to the walk-in clinic.
The doctor was a stooped, wrinkled man with snow-white hair. If a police officer had later asked me to guess his age, I would have said 90. His navy blazer was three sizes too large, making him look like a kid playing dress-up. More disturbingly, the blazer was coated in white dog hair. This man looked less like a medical professional and more like a homeless guy who’d wandered in from the alley.
I pointed to my eye. He reached a withered finger toward me and pressed on the lump, hard.
‘It’s an insect bite. Might even be a wasp sting.’
This was January in Winnipeg, Canada. Outside, the snow banks were up past my knees. I had not seen a wasp in months, probably because they were all dead or hibernating underground through the winter. Maybe he was a hobo who’d recently arrived from Florida and hadn’t yet figured out what insects to randomly attribute his extremely professional diagnoses to.
Also, I feel like I would have known if a wasp had stung me on the face.
I went home. The swelling went away on its own.