Haha, sounds like it was a pretty intense showdown for the first few minutes. One thing I'd recommend is to just go ahead and throw a paintball at the monsters right away. They last for probably a good ten minutes or so, and if the fight feels like it's going on for a little bit, you can eventually throw another one. But a lot of times just one will last you, and especially once you start fighting monsters multiple times and you really get their patterns down.
How are you doing with the insect part of the Insect Glaive? The toughest part for me is still being quick and accurate with aiming the bug, but I've noticed my improvement over the time I've spent, and that feels rewarding.
Also if you haven't already, I'd make it a priority to craft that Jaggi armor, so maybe talk to The Man and see what he's offering and what he needs. The defense aspect of armor alone really does make a huge difference when you start fighting some of the bigger, nastier monster. That's not even to mention the potential added skills from armors.