I have no glorious story to tell here, I was simply bitten by a viper snake in Khasab Oman and I survived to tell the tale.
Friday evening, after a good day of rock climbing in Khasab, I joined my friends at one of the secluded beaches nearby to set up camp.
Whilst I was assisting my friend setup her hammock, I rested my hand on a rocky ledge; and within seconds, I felt as if my finger had been struck by Thor’s hammer itself.
… I screamed instantly from the pain, and realized it was a viper about to defend itself, and strike again. Everything around me slowed down, but I felt as if I was on fast forward. Many thoughts rushed into my mind. However, I pulled myself together and focused on controlling the situation, calming down and coming up with an effective plan.
First, I made sure it was a viper snake that bit me. It is a measurement victims should take in order to get the right treatment (anti-venom). It was a small viper, but still deadly. Ironically, less than a minute prior to being bitten, I told my friends to watch out for the vipers around camp site.
Adrenaline kicked in, and I had already drawn up a plan to get to the nearest hospital; which at that point, I thought was in Ras Al Khaimah.
In speed of lightening, I put my shoes on, tied a sling around my wrist, grabbed my phone and light, and ran to the other side of the hill where the tour operator camp was. I was hoping I could get a lift to the port with their speed-boat; or at least have access to mobile phone reception to call for help.
The camp operators rushed to help me. They gave me water, a chair and ice for my arm, whilst they called their boat to come over. I also called my friend Najm who has a speed-boat and was with me earlier that day. Minutes later, my rescuer Najm arrived. I hopped onto his speed-boat and we took off towards the port.
Najm has organized a car that was waiting at the port when we arrived. My spirit lifted when I was told Khasab has a hospital minutes away from the port. So we did not have to drive to the hospital in Ras al Khaimah.
By the time we reached the hospital, my finger has swollen up like a long potato. The pain was intense, constant and pounded up my arm.
At the ER, I was questioned whether I was certain it actually was a viper that had bitten me. It was difficult to convince the nurses because I had no snake bite symptoms at all aside from the swelling. It took them a while to believe me.
I was put on an IV, received my first anti-venom shot alongside with painkiller shot. They also withdrew blood for lab tests to assess the coagulation rate. Oh boy, what a relief!!! The pain slowly eased, however, my arm kept swelling.
2 hours later the result came out, it showed high coagulation rate in the blood.
At that moment, I could see the distress of everyone around me. They moved me to the ICU and gave me more shots. I could only see needles flying right, left and center 😛 . I lost count of the number of shots I received – JOKING 😛 – I received shots of anti-venom, cortisone, a pain killer and an antibiotic.
I spent 3 nights in total in the Khasab hospital. And here’s a brief journal of my stay:
Saturday, November 21st:
I was under the impression I will be treated and discharged that day. Until the truth hit me, and realized I am not leaving the ICU anytime soon.
I was given multiple shots, however, the pain was constant and very annoying. I was steadily recovering and the blood test results were improving. All these positive results gave me hope I would get discharged the following day.
Sunday, November 22nd:
Despite only getting few hours sleep, I woke up optimistic I would be able to leave the hospital on this day. This glimmer of hope soon turned to a wishful thought, AGAIN!
New blood results showed very high coagulation rate, even higher than the previous day. I had no choice but to stay-in the ICU until further notice and to receive more treatment.
I spent the day reading my book, oblivious of how dangerous the situation was.
Monday, November 23rd:
The blood coagulation rate was steadily declining, and I was informed I might be discharged later that day or early next morning. After a little bit of nagging 😛 , I managed to get discharged that night 🙂
What I experienced during those days surprised me. I had not for a single moment feared losing my life, because, of my optimistic thoughts and positivity that I would bounce back fast and make a full recovery.
Putting things into perspective, I received a total of 14 anti-venom shot in addition to a whole lot of other treatment.
… I moved on, I was on my feet heading to work the following day. However, my finger never retrieved its full functionality. For nearly 2 months, I kept losing sensation in my finger, it went numb, turned yellow and became cold. The numbness and discoloration have kind-of healed now. However, I still cannot bend my finger completely and when I try to, it becomes really painful. I really have nothing to complain about, I lived another day to tell the story 🙂
MUCH APPRECIATION AND THANKS TO:
- my Omani friends Ali and Najm who took very good care of me during my stay in the ICU.
- the kind hospital staff, who treated me very well.
- my two brothers, Khaled & Omar and to Leanne who never stopped researching and attempting to help me in every possible way. Despite my decision of not allowing them to visit me, nor giving them full info of how serious my situation was.
It was also cool to have met and to have had a quick chat with the Omani Minister of Health whilst he was visiting the hospital 🙂
As for the do’s and don’ts, here are few tips:
- Don’t panic and stay calm. You should keep your heart rate very low.
- Keep the bitten part below the heart level.
- Do not cut the patient
- Do not suck the wound
- Please don’t kill the (a) snake.
Last but not least:
- No matter how strong you think you are, do not try be a hero. When you see a snake, move away. Both, the UAE and Oman are known for their deadly snakes, so please be extra careful.
- In general, snakes are afraid of humans, so they tend to hide or flee the scene. However, they are very defensive and aggressive when in close encounter (similar to my experience).
- Vipers usually active at night, and hide in rocky corners awaiting prey.
- The Horned viper below (shot taken by Ajmal Hasan), is able to camouflage in the sand and can be very hard to notice.