Isaac and Judi Bain. Photo Contributed
Isaac and Judi Bain. Photo Contributed Contributed

Rural mum tells of horror midnight snake bite

IT WAS stinking hot, the industrial fan we put on in desperation to try and get some reprieve from the heat was loud and offered little relief.

Out of the fog of sleep, I heard the intercom go off, it was 1.30am. I raced to the phone and picked it up.

My son, Isaac, informed me he had just been bitten by a snake. Stupidly I asked what kind, to which he replied mulga brown.

I am fully awake and years of nursing and emergencies seem to kick in. I raced back to our bedroom, threw on the light and relayed the message to my husband.

I told him grab the RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service) magnet with the phone number on it while I dragged the RFDS emergency kit and tossed out everything until I got to the bandages.

My son was in the cottage about 150m away. As in these situations, we couldn't find a torch anywhere. The solution was to grab the quad.

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This was a blessing because, at this stage, the initial adrenalin rush had left my legs shaky and although capable of walking, I could not get them to go any faster.

I could feel my heart racing and it really did feel like everything was in slow motion.

We arrived at the cottage only to have our eldest son inform us there was still a cranky, 1.8m-long, thick as a man's wrist, snake racing around the house.

He only had a broom to work with.

By the time it was safe enough to enter, Isaac was vomiting and seeing black spots. He had had the presence of mind to keep calm and was sitting on the bed, in which he had been sleeping.

I got him to lie down while I started bandaging and hubby was on the phone to the doctor from the RFDS relaying messages back and forth.

Isaac had at least three puncture marks visible at the base of his thumb and, because he had been asleep at the time, we had no idea of how long it had been since he was bitten.

He wasn't doing anything stupid, he wasn't even outside and he was asleep in his bed in a house with gauze on all windows and doors.

Unfortunately, at the time, Charleville only had one RFDS plane that was out of action.

Our only way to get help was to start driving and meet the ambulance on the road. The doctor was in the ambulance.

The trip to Charleville is 200km, including 70km of very ordinary gravel.

As you can imagine, hubby put down his foot but sensibly, as he knew it was no point killing us all.

I can still hear Isaac groaning in pain as we literally flew over the grids. I have never been so thankful to see flashing red and blue lights signalling literally life-saving help.

We managed to cover 120km in an hour.

In the middle of the road in the dead of night, we loaded our son into the ambulance and continued praying he would survive.

We are a family of faith, our children were at home praying for their brother and we were praying the whole way.

About 15 minutes after putting him in the ambulance, we had a flat tyre and I am so thankful that was not 15 minutes earlier.

Like a well-practised pit crew, hubby and I had that tyre changed and were back on the road in time.

We arrived at the hospital to find Isaac in a bad way. By now he was losing consciousness (they didn't know why although I believe he had to go somewhere in his mind to cope with the pain).

His urine was the colour of coke and his blood was nearly rosé.

I cannot fault those two RFDS doctors who worked on Isaac to stabilise him. They were calm, confident and did everything they could that resulted in a positive outcome for Isaac.

Due to floods being around at the same time, we could not get a plane to fly Isaac out until much later.

It was nearly 12 hours before we could get him to a tertiary hospital for further treatment.

This also is testament to what those first responder doctors did for him: His recovery was directly related to how long before he got emergency care.

Again, I can only thank God and that medical team for saving his life.

Isaac spent five days in intensive care, where he had doctors from India who explained to us that you did not see this type of reaction from snakes in Australia.

Isaac must have had a really good dose of venom: His kidneys could not cope with the rubbish from the toxins, which meant he had to go onto dialysis for a time.

His arm took a big hit from the toxins and resulted in 10 operations during 18 months in order to initially save it and then to make it as good as possible.

We spent initially 12 weeks in Brisbane and then were slowly allowed home for longer and longer periods.

It took two years of follow-up with doctors and occupational therapists before our visits to Brisbane could stop.

Long-term the prognosis for Isaac is excellent. Even though he suffered a vicious assault on his kidneys, he should not have any major issues down the track.

As for his arm and hand, he is young, has become ambidextrous and has a fantastic attitude, rising to any challenge.

As I mentioned before we are a family of faith and I acknowledge and thank God for Isaac.

The amount of the prayer that went up for him was unbelievable and the outcome was we had the right doctors at the right time.

The outcome would not have been so good either without access to the RFDS. They talked through exactly what to do and were ready for us when we got there.

According to their official website, The Royal Flying Doctors Service of Australia is one of the largest and most comprehensive aero-medical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to those who live, work and travel throughout Australia.

The RFDS helps someone every two minutes in rural and remote Australia. The services the Royal Flying Doctors provides include clinics, aero-medical transportation and tele-health consultations.

This is an essential, world-class service available to rural and remote Australia.

Although some financial support is available from the government, it also relies heavily on fundraising and donations.

 Bush Kids recently made a 2016 calendar to sell, with proceeds going to this wonderful organisation.

Calendars are still available online at a reduced rate to help this wonderful service continue servicing the bush.

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