Monday, January 4, 2010

On mini-hiatus.

No Monday Morgue for this morning, as I'll be going on a short hiatus while I'm hospitalised. For those of you who haven't heard, I'm currently warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, after I was stupid and careless enough to step on a hollow-cheeked stonefish (Synanceia horrida) on Terumbu Bemban Besar on New Year's Day.

Hollow-cheeked stonefish, Big Sister Island;
(Photo by Kok Sheng)

You can read Ria's account of the trip and subsequent evacuation here. Kok Sheng also wrote about the visit, as well as my incident with the stonefish. Thanks to everyone for not panicking, and for doing their part to ensure that I received proper medical attention as quickly as possible. I am especially grateful to Marcus, Andy and James for sending me to the hospital, and for getting the paperwork settled while waiting for my girlfriend and sister to arrive. I also appreciate the kind words from everyone who sent their well-wishes via SMS, Facebook, and Twitter. The medical staff at Tan Tock Seng have been doing a great job of seeing to my needs and making sure that I'm well taken care of, and for ensuring that I'm on the road to recovery. And of course, my family and girlfriend have sacrificed so much to spend time with me here, trying their best to ensure that I'm as comfortable as possible.

Right now, my left foot is quite swollen and very tender to the touch. I am thankful that the sharp stabbing pain I felt at first has vanished. I suppose I'm already doing better than many other stonefish victims, since it seems I did not get a very large dose of venom, plus my friends were quick enough in getting hot water for me to soak my foot (heat denatures the proteins that make up the toxins in the venom). Still, the pain was agonising, and my current state of paralysis is nothing to be sniffed at. The doctors that examined me yesterday say that I now have a mild secondary infection in my leg. Hope it clears up soon; right now I'm receiving antibiotics intravenously.

I wish I had been crazy enough to take the time to photograph the stonefish, which was still sitting there among the coral rubble after I had stepped on it. Or that I had been more attentive to detail, and accurately noted down my progress as the venom worked its way around my system. Andy recorded some footage of the evacuation, as well as my reaction to the pain (lots of screaming and swearing), and it would be nice to use all this information to either publish a paper in a scientific journal like Nature in Singapore, or to create a documentary in the style of Anatomy of a Snake Bite.

It is quite a bummer missing out on all the shore trips I could have gone for, especially since I had really wanted to check out Pasir Ris to see for myself just how bad the fish mortality event was. Besides, it would have been an excellent opportunity to obtain a lot of new material for Monday Morgue. At least I have my iPhone here, so I can check the various blogs and read about everyone else's adventures.

Hopefully, I'll be discharged soon, and I'll provide more details about the incident. For now, all I can do is rest, and console myself that it was not an irukandji jellyfish (Carukia barnesi), geographic cone (Conus geographus) or blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata). You can read the latest updates on my status on my Twitter feed.