As some of you may know, last June Bella was stung by a large Box Jellyfish whilst swimming. I always thought Box Jellyfish were an Australian problem, but it seems they are thought to range as far North as Thailand. They enjoy shallow, brackish water and are fast swimmers – it is very unusual to get them inside the Strait, but last June the combination of heavy rain and wind direction brought a couple into the area, and Bella had the worst luck to get stung by one at about 8am on her morning swim.
Luckily, a few minutes of CPR got her breathing again although her pulse was very weak, so we set off to the local hospital – I remember she started breathing again about half way across the strait. Interestingly, looking back on it I wonder if the vinegar was pushed her pain threshold higher than necessary, leading to blackout – but it had to be done to take away the remaining tentacles. At the hospital in Bitung we got some Oxygen and an offer of Antibiotics!?! The staff were very nice, but stings like this are so rare they were not sure what to do. Anyway, after about an hours sleep on the Oxygen (keep an eye on the flow rate in Indonesian hopsitals) she was getting a little stronger so we jumped in the car to Manado and tried again – this time no luck. But I did have some luck when the same Jellyfish came back to the same place the following morning, and I was able to squish him between my fingers! We headed over to Singapore 2 days later where we could finally get to a specialist. Fortunately we had done all the right things (paw paw cream and keeping it clean) so we picked up a whole bunch of gauzes and Paw Paw ointment and headed home.
After we got home we had to keep her out of the direct sun and water for what felt like an eternity, once the bandaged were off we switched from paw-paw ointment to Bio-Oil on the scars.
One year on, she still remembers it and isn’t so keen on Jellyfish – she has full movement and no pain on all affected areas, so we are very lucky. She’s started snorkelling now and is happily swimming on the beach most days, and as you can tell from the dark scars – we couldn’t keep her out of the sun for long enough!
Just in case someone else is reading this because they are in the same situation, feel free to contact us if you need help. Antivenin for Box Jellyfish exists in certain areas, and if it can be applied within a few hours it will help with the necrosis. If that’s not available then lots of bandage changes and paw paw cream works wonders, especially for kids as it does not smell medicinal. Thank to everyone who helped in those days a year ago, we really do appreciate it.