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22 August 2005 at 09:32

support down under



Before I came to Unheard Island, I spent 10 years in Sydney. Australia is big on counselling and telephone hotlines for emotional support. For example, when the opening ceremony for the tunnel under Sydney harbour was drawing near, so many people were distraught with fear of driving through it, that the government set up a 24-hour counselling hotline to talk motorists through their fears.

Australia has hundreds of phone support services, including the national 24-hour poisons advisory service (to advise on snake and spider bites, fish and jellyfish stings, all potentially deadly).

Once, in the middle of the night, something bit my leg, and within minutes it was painful and swollen. Right away, I dialled the poisons advisory service, and heard the following recorded message: "all our poisons advisors are busy, your call is important to us, please hold the line". If this is how many people need poisoning advice at 3 in the morning, imagine the daytime demand!

So I held on, listening to Greensleeves for about 25 minutes, while I tied on a tourniquet and got dressed in case I had to find a hospital. It was getting pretty sore, and I was growing uneasy, especially since I was living in the suburb with the highest concentration of the most poisonous spider on the planet - the Sydney Funnel Web Spider (don't look at this de-fanged example if you're arachnophobic).

I was about to hang up when a chirpy person came on the line, panting as if she had just got back from having a smoke, or sex with the night watchman. She apologised for the delay.

I described my symptoms, and asked if it could be a spider bite. She said it probably was. Then she added the words I wanted to hear: "but it's not a funnel-web spider".

Relieved and impressed, I asked her how she could decide that over the phone.

"That's easy mate, if it was a funnel-web spider, after the time you've been hanging on, you wouldn't be talking to me now."

Blogger Horsey said...

Haha, those wacky Australians. Sigh.

Honestly though, someone I know got bit by a scorpion in South America. Her foot puffed up like someone had inflated it with a bicycle pump. But she went to a hospital and in like 48 hours it went back to normal. She then got impregnated by some guy from Texas, and 8 months later another part of her was swollen just as big.  

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Blogger robmcj said...

I'm guessing the hospital removed that lump too.  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Guy sleeping in the bush saw the end of the snake going into his sleeping bag. Didn't know what kind. Waited. In the morning, it slid out again. Long wait.  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Guy sleeping in the bush saw the end of the snake going into his sleeping bag. Didn't know what kind. Waited. In the morning, it slid out again. Long wait.  

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