Wednesday, 31 July 2013

I now know the Turkish word for Scorpion!

Last night I was up later than I normally am because we lost our Internet connection at the weekend and I was catching up on emails etc. At midnight I thought I really should be getting to bed, so shut the computer down and cleared up ready to climb the wooden hill to slumber land. At the very last minute I decided that before going up, I would sit on the terrace for a minute and have a last cigarette while watching the stars and enjoying the peace and tranquillity. Big mistake!

As I stepped out onto the terrace I felt a searing pain in my toe, looked down and saw a scorpion on the doorstep. Trying not to panic, I woke David up who was fast asleep on the sofa - enjoying his film!

"I've been stung by a scorpion what do I do?" The first thing that came to mind was to get the venom out. I don't have one of those little pumps for this, so I suggested as obviously I couldn't reach my own toe that David tried to suck it out. Surprisingly and in the heat of the panic, he tried but that didn't make any difference. How ridiculously we behave in a crisis.

I switched the computer back on and googled 'scorpion stings in Turkey' The first thing I saw was that if the sting was on the hand or the foot to elevate the limb, so still trying to read I put the affected leg up on the kitchen worktop. Next advice was to put a cold compress on the site, so David was dispatched to the freezer whilst I continued to balance precariously and carry on reading. The pain was excruciating and neither elevating nor the ice was making any difference at all. Next thing put vinegar on it, so again David dispatched to get kitchen roll soaked in vinegar to wrap around it. No difference still agony!

Other advice almost always included hospital visits, and one guy said he had rushed to the Esnaf hospital in Hisaronu where they had dispatched serum and then rushed him to the Fethiye Esnaf for further treatment where he was met at the door by a doctor and 4 nurses who had been advised of his imminent arrival., and that afterwards he went into shock. This is not starting to sound too good!

The list of potential symptoms were swelling, drooling, twitches, heart palpitations as well as more serious symptoms which include widespread numbness, difficulty swallowing, a thick tongue, blurred vision, roving eye movements,  seizures, salivation, and difficulty breathing and that death may occur. At this point I am thinking maybe hospital is the best option. I was tempted to just go to bed, but the pain was so intense I don't think I could have slept.

So half past midnight I rang our dear friend Eddie who was of course fast asleep to come and take me to the hospital. Bless him, his response was I'll be there in ten minutes. So off we all set to the Devlet accident and emergency in Fethiye.

On arrival I hobbled to the reception desk and asked if anyone spoke English. They didn't but rang a nurse who did and I spoke to her on the phone. I explained that I had been stung by a scorpion.

She said "stung? scorpion? what is this?"

Great I thought there aren't many different words to describe by phone with no hand language what has happened. In the end in desperation, between gasps of pain, I said "ANIMAL BITE INSECT!"

"Oh animal insect" she said as though that made all the sense in the world "I will come now". Are you a resident?"


"Give the man your residency book"

A couple of minutes later there she was and I was ushered through to a consultation bay. A lady doctor came along and took my blood pressure and disappeared again. Two minutes later the nurse came back and said they were going to give me serum intravenously and an injection in my hip. Which indeed was exactly what happened a couple of minutes later. Then a man came along and wheeled me off down the corridor. I thought great, now I'm being admitted to hospital and David and Eddie won't have a clue where I've disappeared to. But in fact I was wheeled into a four bay side room further down the hall and left complete with drip attached and the company of two other lady patients.

I lay on my stretcher bed and was in agony and the pain showed no sign of abating at all. With no pillow, my back soon began to ache to add to the misery and I couldn't work out how to sit up or roll over. If I rolled onto my right side I thought I would bend my arm and shift the needle and if I rolled onto my left side I thought I'll rip the needle out of my arm altogether. I then tried to work out how I could sit up using only one arm as I couldn't bend the other one. After a couple of fairly pathetic attempts and by grabbing the bed rail with my free left arm and much heaving I managed to sit up.

At that point the husband of the lady in the bed next to me appeared and talking in Turkish she must have told him about my contortions because the next thing I know this strange man is trying to help me lay back down again. Good god it's just taken me about fifteen minutes to work out how to sit up!

"OK" I shouted at him.

"OK?" he replied "

"Evet" I say. "Do you speak English? "

"No - Dutch" he said

So that was the end of that conversation. By know I am throwing my leg around with the pain which is still incredible, and I'm thinking 'twitches' one of the major symptoms.

After a while the nurse reappeared to check my drip. I asked her what the injection had been. She said it was pain relief. I said well it hasn't worked. She disappeared.

Five minutes later the drip has finished and she returns with another nurse, and tells me that they are going to attach a second serum drip, but this time with pain relief in it. Which indeed they do and I am left laying there watching the ceiling again and listening to the Ramazan drummer who has started his rounds to awaken the fasters for their breakfast.

About ten minutes later I have the most incredible urge to giggle, and after a few minutes I can no longer resist the urge and lay there giggling. I didn't realise scorpion bites turned you into a mad woman. Then I thought Ah! what is in this drip? After another half an hour of giggling as quietly as possible to myself the nurse reappears and tells me I can go home now, so she lifts the bottle of 'substance' off the hanger and carries it beside me as we go back to the consultation room, where the other nurse disconnects me and I am free to go.

As I turn into the waiting area corridor I catch sight of David sitting and I start to laugh, as I go to pay the princely sum of 88 tl for my treatment (around £30 - can't complain at that) I laugh. We go outside and get a coffee from the all night shop and sit outside and drink it. I tell them that I don't know what they put in the drip, but I can't stop giggling, which David and Eddie find hilarious.

We set off home at 3.30 in the morning and actually found it really interesting to see how many households were in the kitchen preparing and eating their breakfasts. A lot of Turks here clearly maintain the Ramazan tradition of fasting.

So we finally arrive back in Uzumlu at around four in the morning, and after a quick cup of coffee I set off to bed. By now the pain is coming and going rather than constant, but the pain is so intense I just cannot sleep in spite of how tired I am. I tried every position possible, I elevated my foot, I slept upside down in the bed and pressed my foot against the bedhead, I dangled my foot over the edge of the bed all to no avail. It was like every time the pain came it was a pulsation kind of feeling and nearly drove me mad. Finally at 5.30 I took some strong pain killers put on a tight slipper sock around my foot and finally went to sleep.

This morning I woke up to more a feeling of pins and needles and numbness than pain, but I have felt a bit odd - odder than usual - all day.

I hate wearing shoes and have never worn anything on my feet at home and quite often in the garden, but this has made me quite paranoid, and I have resorted to wearing crocs outside the house and looking a lot more carefully where I am walking. I am so glad that it was me and not one of the dogs that got stung at least.

I was stung by one of the light brown/grey scorpions which are worse than the black ones, it was quite a small one. Today we can see two marks on my toe, so I think it got me twice. It was an extremely unpleasant and hideously painful experience and I would urge everyone to be aware that they are around and to be careful. So now this year I have been bitten by Yakarca and a wolf spider and now stung by a scorpion, surely that's my turn done for a while. All I can say is after the pain from that sting I do not want to be meeting his father or big brother! Oh and the word for scorpion in case you are stung - akrep, a most useful word to know!

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