Schemer, what you had is fairly normal. For about 4 years my stings would swell way up, and itch furiously for a couple of days, but it was always local to the sting, even if local meant half my arm or my hand. As long as it is connected to the sting it is not too alarming. Thankfully that goes away after a while, and it has pretty much stopped doing that to me now.
What Cur has going on sounds different...I can't speak to experience, but I agree that an EpiPen would be a worthwhile investment if this is what you are experiencing. The trick is to find a beekeeping Dr. who knows about the stuff and won't go all crazy on you and tell you to stop beekeeping now.