Rocky nurse's holiday away ends in agony
"I DESCRIBE the pain as excruciating because the word comes from crucify, and that's exactly what it was - there's was no other way to describe it."
That's what Keven Renshaw said after he was stung by the most venomous fish in the world, the stonefish.
Irishman Mr Renshaw - who works at Rockhampton Mater Hospital as a nurse - and his partner Grace Scantlebury - who works at a Rockhampton chemist - were supposed to be on a relaxing weekend away at Bargara.
But, a day into the get-away, disaster struck as the couple was enjoying the clear ocean waters of Seventeen Seventy.
"I thought a fish had bit me at first and I pulled my foot away," Mr Renshaw said.
"But from the moment you're bitten you know you're in trouble.
"It was like a blunt puncture trauma, like some had hit you right in the soft tissue."
He was stung between his toes on his left foot as he walked in waist-high water along the beach.
"There were a few rocks on the beach but we never thought to watch out for stonefish," he said.
The stonefish venom causes severe pain and swelling and can kill tissues, stop your arms and legs from functioning and put your body into shock.
In just 10 minutes, the 51-year-old said his pain went through the roof.
He said it felt like the webbing between his toes has been sliced.
"It went from a sharp painful thing to being excruciating," he said.
"It was like hitting your toe with a hammer and then rubbing over it again and again with a nail file.
"I guess you have a lot of nerves down there.
"I've been through pain in the past where I've needed a screw in my skull and nothing compares to this."
The Irishman said he'd had a heart attack a few years ago and knew the venom wouldn't be good for him.
But, luckily as a nurse himself he sort immediate medical attention.
"The coughing started pretty quickly and I went downhill," he said.
"I had three green whistles of pain killers and it didn't do anything.
"The venom is not good for your heart, as it can set off an arrhythmia or fibrillation."
He said the pain radiated from his foot where the barb remained.
"I was trying to man up and be a man about it," Mr Renshaw said.
"But you can see from the pictures, I couldn't handle it."
Five hours after he was stung Mr Renshaw was at Bundaberg Hospital where they eased the pain with a "local block" of anaesthetic.
The next day he went in for surgery to remove the barb.
He praised emergency services and said he was well looked after by ambos and hospital staff.
Mr Renshaw said the message for beach goers was to never take anything for granted.
"You always think it will never happen," he said.
"But this broke me and it was such a struggle and brought me to tears."