Monday, 17 November 2008

Dealing with snake bite

Before you panic, no, this hasn't happened to me (yet).

A kind colleague lent me a very old and rare book recently, that has a great story on the above title. The book, From Cape to Cairo, by Ewan Scott Grogan, tells of the first traverse of Africa from South to North.

The next time you have a bite of some description, be glad the treatment isn't what follows:

"During lunch a native rushed in, saying that he had been bitten by a night-adder (one of the most deadly snakes in Africa). I promptly collared him by the arm, stopped the circulation with some string, slit his finger crosswise with my pocket-knife, exploded some gunpowder in the cut, while Dodson administered repeated subcutaneous injections of permanganate of potash. Meanwhile the arm, chest, and left side swelled to the most appalling proportions. Cavendish then appeared on the scene with a bottle of whisky, three parts of which we poured down his throat. Then we told off three strong men to run the patient round the camp till he subsided like a log into a drunken stupor. The following morning he was still alive, but the swelling was enormous, and the colour of his nails indicated gangrene. Not knowing what else to do, we put a pot on the fire, and made a very strong solution of the permanganate which we kept gently simmering, while six stalwart natives forced the unfortunate's hand in and out. His yells were fearful, but the cure was complete. The swelling rapidly subsided, the nails resumed their normal colour, and the following morning, with the exception of the loss of the skin on his hand, he was comparatively well."