Jesse ‘learns to walk’ again after snake bite
The 24-year-old Canadian, who has been living in Byron Bay for four years, was walking home with friends to their Massinger Street house after a night out in the town on Christmas Eve when he was bitten.
But he didn’t know that at the time – he thought he had just kicked his foot - and the consequences were almost tragic.
Twenty minutes after Jesse arrived home he started vomiting.
“I had crazy pains in my stomach and I just thought that I’d probably drunk too much,” Jesse said.
“My sister’s boyfriend drove me to Byron Hospital and I was treated for gastritis.
“They gave me some morphine for the pain and something to stop the vomiting.”
Jesse then returned home, but he was still in a lot of pain.
He managed to get some sleep, but when he woke about 9am on Christmas Day his entire body was in pain and his foot hurt.
“I thought that maybe I had just kicked my foot walking home,” Jesse said.
“But as the day wore on my jaw locked up, my tongue swelled and I had difficulty breathing.
“I was starting to get real panicky.”
Jesse went back to Byron Hospital thinking that he was having an allergic reaction to the medication he had been given.
He stayed in emergency for the evening before being transferred to Tweed Hospital.
“No one really knew what was wrong with me, but at this stage I was very weak and finding it difficult to breathe,” Jesse said.
“I was losing consciousness.”
Jesse was admitted to intensive care where he underwent a host of tests.
One blood test revealed an abnormality, so Jesse was sent to a neurologist at the Southport Hospital.
By this stage Jesse couldn’t swallow his own saliva, couldn’t open his eyes and he was paralysed.
“My muscles were just wasting away,” he said.
“I could just move my wrist a little bit, but that was all and I was really scared.
At Southport Hospital, Jesse underwent an MRI scan and a spinal tap and he spent two days in intensive care.
Jesse said that finally one doctor asked him whether he could have been bitten by a snake.
He said tests were then carried out on his urine and it was found to contain tiger snake venom.
But, thinking it was too late to administer any anti-venom, Jesse had to ‘ride it out’.
Jesse’s parents, Jim and Debbie, flew over from Canada to be with their son and on New Year’s Day, Jesse was moved out of intensive care to a ward.
“I was doing a little better, my CK levels went back up, but I was very weak, I could hardly walk,” Jesse said.
“My girlfriend’s mum tracked down a doctor in Melbourne who specialises in snake bites and he contacted my doctors and told them to give me the anti-venom.
“I was given one vial on the first night and then two vials the next night and slowly things started to get better.”
Jesse however, has lost 15 kilograms and has also had to fight a urine and bladder infection.
He hopes to be released from hospital this week.
“I am really lucky to be alive, if I wasn’t young and fit then I doubt I would have survived,” Jesse said.
Jesse’s mum Debbie said it was a miracle that her son was alive.
“It’s been a harrowing experience, but the doctors here have all been fantastic.”
A fundraiser for Jesse will be held at the Byron Bay Bowling Club on Friday, February 6. For details phone Debbie on 0432177922.