One of great joys of being an emergency doctor, (and also one of it’s sobering features) is that, on certain occasions, there will be unfortunate members of the public who present to hospital having done something ridiculously stupid. Many of these foolish acts are chronicled in the Darwin Awards.
On those occasions, you get the opportunity to reflect with reassurance and satisfaction that hopefully you would never do such a thing.
I had one such case recently.
A man from an outback town was called urgently by his neighbour who, having found a large snake, had attempted to kill it by hitting it on the head with a stick. Having not quite succeded, the neighbour was unsure as to what to do next and sought assistance.
The man, who had spent a large part of the day doing not much but consuming alcohol jumped into action. Noting that the snake was still wriggling (and therefore presumably still a danger) grabbed it and in the style of Ozzy Osbourne bit off its head.
Despite spitting out the head immediately, he told me that “I think I accidently drank some of the blood”, and not surprisingly “a short time later I began to feel sick”.
This man did something that we’d all would agree “probably wasn’t a good idea”. Fortunately for him, not being bitten by the snake and only having ingested a few drops of blood, his risk of being envenomed was practically zero and he was able to be discharged from hospital (once he was sober).
Unfortunatley for him but rightly so, justice prevails and he has been charged with cruelty to animals.
There is something about the combination of Australian males, alcohol and snakes that often gives rise to this kind of potentially deadly situation. Lifeinthefastlane reveals another amazing lucky to be here story of the male + alcohol + snake combination.
There are countless other occasions when a patient is relaying their story on how they came to end up in ED that where we as doctors think to ourselves, “that probably wasn’t a good idea”. If anyone would like to share a story (de-identified, of course), feel free to use the comments section.