Thursday, August 20, 2009


Can not express how grateful and relieved we are to be home again with our happy and healthy 6 year daughter.
It has been a very full and stressed filled couple of days, so this post might be a little wordy.

At around 5:30pm on Monday evening, our oldest daughter Kate was bitten by a brown snake.

However, we didn't think she had been bitten (she told us that she had seen it, and that it had run over her foot where she was playing on some farm equipment behind the dog pens, not far from where we were talking to the fuel truck driver). I looked at her foot (and horror of horrors, spat on my finger and rubbed the dirt off her toes!), but couldn't really see any marks apart from a tiny mark on her toe, that she said she had kicked earlier in the day.

Fifteen minutes later, she collaped on the ground, convulsing and vomiting. This bit will haunt me for the rest of my days - at first I thought she was mucking about, for about 10 seconds. The next 35 minutes were the longest of my life. When I rolled her onto her side where she had collapsed, I yelled something along the lines of "GET AN AMBULANCE!" and Trevor took her from me. I ran for my car, tried to start it and ring 000 from the mobile, but the car wouldn't start & phone flat. I then ran for his ute, but 000 didn't want to connect on his phone. So I then ran for the house (we were out in the back paddock), running into our neighbour who had heard us yelling. She quickly took the other two kids back to her house, bringing back bandages.

Meanwhile I had contacted 000 on the cordless phone and returned from the house with our woefully inadequate first aide kit. Our neighbour Marie and I then bandaged the foot where we thought she had been bitten, and I held her in the recovery position and kept her responding to me by having her squeeze my hand. She was semi conscious and still vomiting.

Marie's husband brought over their car, a Kluger and I informed the ambulance dispatcher that I thought she was detioriating and that we would meet the ambulance enroute to town, some 45kms away. I started off sitting on the backseat with Kate half on, half off my lap, but this didn't help her airway, so knelt on the floor as best I could (my skinny days are long gone!) trying to keep her on her side. She couldn't speak but responded to my questions and was having trouble breathing. Trevor broke all speed records on that trip, and it felt forever before the ambulance was sighted - we had passed the half way mark to town where we met it.

Once transfered to the ambulance and given oxygen, as well as having another compression bandadge applied, Kate improved greatly. However, once in hospital she continued to vomit, although quite alert and responsive. Her vomit started to show traces of blood, and at around 8pm her gums began to bleed. Her urine was also bright pink. At 10pm the Flying Doctor arrived and we were flown to Townsville General Hospital, with a "broad" anti venom finally being administered as we landed in Townsville, at around midnight. Immediatley she experienced a reaction to this - face swelling and rash. Once in Emergency (no waiting, straight in) they decided to stop this anti venom, and continue with fluids and half hourly obs.

Throughout this Kate was napping, but quite well in mental state.

In hindsight, I should have probably made some more noise about what treatment she was going to get, as it was 6am on Tuesday morning before one of the Emergency doctors looked harder at the suggested bite site, and it was swabbed positively for brown snake venom.

We were transferred to ICU (protocol with snake bite) where she was given both phernergon (a antihistimine to conteract any reaction that she might have, learned from when she reacted to the "poly-venom" administered earlier) and specific brown snake anti venom.

INFO: brown snake venom has this affect: it causes the blood to loose clotting ability, hence the bleeding gums and blood in urine etc. The anti-venom mops up the venom and the body then breaks this down itself, and returns the blood to normal.

It took all day Tuesday for her blood to test within normal range for clotting ability (The lab were not able to get ANY clotting from her early blood tests). In the early hours of Wednesday morning she was transferred to the Childrens Ward, as her ICU bed was needed. Wednesday afternoon her final blood test came back completely normal and she was discharged. We drove home today.

I didn't get any sleep until 5:30am Tuesday morning, after sitting all night in Emergency. I got a scant half hour before going to ICU, where I then managed to have a rest (Kate was sleeping soundly under the influence of the anti-histimine) and then another quick half an hour before Trevor arrived by car just after lunch. I had a couple of moments where I had a few tears, mostly because I was so tired, but once I had a nap and Trevor arrived, I was fine.
I am surprised that I didn't end up a sobbing mess on the floor; then again ICU puts things into perspective - when your child can talk and laugh, as her bed lays opposite to some poor soul on a ventilator and with every limb plastered, ones troubles tend to get smaller.

I cannot express how wonderful the Emergency nurses were (Renee and Bronwyn) and then the ICU nurses (Liz and Fiona) were just the best. Kate was quite happy to be left with the ICU nurses so we were comfortable leaving her there during the night so we could rest. One of my old school friends nurses in ICU so she came over during her break and it was so wonderful to see her. Mind you, some of the oodles of doctors that came past (a teaching hospital, so some were students, some different levels of the medical hierachy!) were a little bit different!

So very very glad to be home, and our girl is feeling wonderful, has been quite spoilt from all of the attention and is about at the stage where she is getting into strife again.

I don't know that we will change much of what we do as a consequence of this happening: the pile of farm equipment will be moved away to discourage any snake hideyholes so close to our house yard, and the kids encouraged to wear boots outside the yard. Mostly to NOT play on and in areas that snakes can hide.

Whatever: our girl is home, and we will look forwards and try not to think about that horrid 35 minutes when things weren't going so well.

If you've made it through this, thanks for reading.


  1. OH my goodness ... I don't know what to say but that I am covered in goosebumps and had tears welling in my eyes. I can not imagine how you must have been feeling. So glad to hear she is well and hope you can settle back into life OK.

  2. There is a strength inside all of us Sharon that enables us to cope with the unthinkable.
    I am so very glad all is good and well for you and your precious daughter.

  3. WOW!!!!!!
    Sharon. You certainly have had a highly stressful, horrendous week! Although that must have been terrible for you, we all know the outcome for a brown snake bite is often (usually?) much worse! Maybe it was a baby snake? You are so lucky to have your girl happy and healthy back at home. What an experience though! You must still be physically and emotionally exhausted! Thanks for sharing, and you are excused from the next challenge!

  4. I am reading through tears. Sharon you are all so very blessed. I must say it is amazing the strength you can find when it is needed. Remember though you are only human, and now that all is back to 'normal' to give yourself a little time to process what has happened. Go and give Kate an extra big hug and a kiss from me! Side note went to see My Sister's Keeper at the movies last night so I am extra emotional! So glad all is well!

  5. Sharon - this is UNBELIEVABLE. I have always had a serious snake phobia (too many encounters growing up in the country!) This is just about my worst nightmare realised. Thank God it turned out OK. Like Tammy, I've got tears in my eyes right now. I'm sure this experience will effect you, and all the family, for a long time. Be kind to yourselves. SOOOO overjoyed for you that all is well. Sending you hugs and lots of love. Anita. xxx

  6. Oh Sharon...
    I am reading through tears also, as it reminds me of the night I almost lost my son at 3yrs of age. He is now 6. I am so glad everything turned out ok in the end for you. Sending big hugs your way...Monique X X

  7. Wow... I'm crying reading this.. I am so glad that she is okay...

  8. Oh Sharon....I had no idea...You poor poor love. I am SO happy to have read this now, when I know that everything is okay. I cannot imagine. I know how terrifying being flown out to hospital when your little one is sick feels. You just feel so incredibly helpless:(
    Give your babies a super big cuddle.

  9. OMG what drama! A close call like that can make you reassess & take stock, thankfully she pulled through so well.

  10. Sharon, my eyes are full of tears, That is just a nightmare what you went through. I'm so, so glad things worked out ok!! Your heart must have been pounding out of your chest that entire time, you poor thing. I have just realised how extremly spoilt I am living exactly 3 minutes drive from our local hospital. I can't even imagine what you went through on that journey. My heart goes out to you. Now that Kate is all good and home take a deep big breath and tell yourself what an amazing job you did! I'm sending Hugs and kisses your way. JO OOXX


Other posts you might like...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...