Didn’t want to bore you with yet more photos of a festering toe but, rest assured, it is on the mend. I know some of you thought I was stark staring mad not to limp immediately the 80kms to the nearest hospital, admit myself and pay many hundreds of dollars a day to stay there while they cut my toe off and insist I stay another two weeks to recuperate before finally discharging me. I like NHS hospitals. They do everything possible not to have to admit you and if you do make it in, do everything they can to get rid of you as soon as possible (one way or another according to Sky News). Here, they’ll admit you for a splinter under your fingernail and before you know it, you’re having open heart surgery and the bill is 30 grand. Twice I have woken up in hospital here and twice I have ripped my drips out and done a runner, once successfully. The second time they brought me back in handcuffs, I kid you not.
Had this happened in rural Trelwanyd, I would have let Nurse Gray place me into his immaculate Berlingo, drive me to hospital and be treated by a load of Hi-De-Hi types all fussing over me and feeding me tea and Welsh cakes. It would have to be something bloody serious, such as waking up in the morning to find my head had fallen off into my lap, to induce me to walk voluntarily into a hospital here. I suspect I would never walk into a hospital here, I would have to be carried in unconscious as on the two previous occasions,
I think the general consensus was that it was a bite from a snake of the viper family and there is no denying, there are plenty of them around here. I have been nipped by snakes on many occasions but never a venomous one so this is a first for me. Firstly, I would say the strike was not nearly as painful as I had previously imagined a bite from a venomous snake to be. Stubbing one’s toe on a brick is a jolly sight more eyewatering. Secondly, I was astonished at how fast everything happened, the necrosis, the swelling and then yes, of course, the subsequent pain. I can only describe it as a tadge uncomfortable. I could handle the pain, it was the nausea and dizziness I found disconcerting. Bizarrely, the little, ring and index fingers of both hands went numb (OK, just the index finger on my left hand as I have lost the other two). I even dropped a full glass of whisky! The pain from my foot lanced slowly upwards until it reached my groin making walking, already a tadge difficult, almost impossible. At one stage as I sat there in the night sipping whisky from what was left of my glass I realised I could no longer focus on my book. Then I knocked the torch over so lay there in the dark smoking. It was only in the morning I saw that something was definitely wrong. By that stage though, the venom was well in so no amount of anti venom would make any difference.
I treated myself with high doses of antibiotics. At first I was also breaking open capsules of antibiotics and pouring the powder directly over the wound. That didn’t work so I resorted to an old bush treatment and poured raw, unrefined, fresh out of the tree-hive honey over my toe and bound it with a handkerchief. Three times a day I bathed my foot, covered my toe with honey and bound it again. Tomorrow you will see the difference.
Although not quite bouncing about with gay abandon, at least able to perambulate with considerably less discomfort than of late, today I unpacked and hung my suits, tidied up my desk (hitherto, like any flat surface here, a repository for personal effects still to be allocated a home in the new house) and installed my new printer on a home wireless network, the first time I have ever managed such a feat. Flushed with success I hung not one but two pictures and then prepared everything I needed to cook a damn fine beef stir fry for when Marcia arrived home. Thus prepared, I had time left over to training the new maid. I shan’t bore you yet with all the details, I shall merely give you a hint of the clay I have to work.
‘Maria!’ I called handing her an empty bottle of whisky, ‘can you please go to the shop and fetch me another bottle of whisky and two packets of cigarettes?’
‘Si, Senhor Tomas’
She came back empty handed.
‘Maria, where’s my whisky and cigarettes?’
Maria is only on her second day. Marcia was kind enough to introduce me to her while she was interviewing but at that stage of the game Marcia could have offered anyone up and I would have said yes.
‘She’s from the Church,’ said Marcia.
I felt another bout of fever and nausea coming on.
‘Sr. Jaime arranged her,’ Marcia continued.
‘Oh well if Jimmy’s willing to carry the can, fine by me!’ I said.
So there I was two days later staring at this rather sympathetic young lady wondering why she had carried an empty bottle of whisky back to the shop instead of chucking it in the bin and returning with a full one and some smokes.
Her face lit up. ‘Do you want me to go back to the shop, Sr. Tomas?’
‘Yes please, Maria, can you fetch me a bottle of whisky and two packets of cigarettes, please?’
‘Yes, Sr.Tomas!’ and off she skipped.
Five minutes later she was back again with a carrier bag containing two bottles of whisky and one packet of cigarettes.
I leave you with an image of my little corner. I have spent the last few nights here. It is miles better than a hospital bed.