Survivor: 'I could feel the venom in my veins'

KIA Ora man Steven Osmond (pictured) went from a healthy and active 54-year-old to a sick man fighting for life in a fraction of a second.

Three weeks ago he was walking around a water tank on his property east of Gympie, when "whack," he felt a sharp prick about half way up his calf.

He turned around, and what he saw froze him on the spot. He was staring into the eyes of 1.8m brown snake.

He remained calm but knew he had to act fast.

Grabbing a bandage from inside the house he wrapped the small puncture wound and raced to Gympie hospital - 45 minutes had passed and he was feeling OK.

He would not stay like that for long.

His condition deteriorated.

Kidneys failing, he could now feel the snake's venom in his veins. He was rushed to University Hospital, Kawana where he was immediately put in intensive care.

Four hours later he had lost almost his entire kidney function. It was touch and go. Paintings on the walls were melting. A wall-mounted clock was flying around his head. He knew he was hallucinating but was unable to shake the psychedelic reaction to the snake's bite.

Steven Osmond came close to death when he was bitten by a brown snake three weeks ago at his Kia Ora property.
Steven Osmond came close to death when he was bitten by a brown snake three weeks ago at his Kia Ora property. Renee Albrecht

He believes if a smaller person had received the same, they would have died.

"You can feel your lights going out," Mr Osmond said.

"You are tripping out of your head, you know that you are touching on the edge of life. You know you are in a predicament."

He was eventually stabilised. The day after the bite he was transferred to a ward where he started recovery.

There were complications. He ended up back in intensive care. He was alive, but just.

Mr Osmond has only only just been discharged from hospital but his battle is far from over.

He requires three seven-hour dialysis sessions a week to keep him alive.

He says he is not the man he used to be.

"There is nothing in me," he said

"I am a little grey old man with failed kidneys, going to dialysis in town which I am 30 minutes away from.

"You want to vomit, but you can't because you have nothing to vomit. Because your kidneys aren't working your urinary tract is not operating, so whatever fluid you have goes in under your skin which makes you itchy and puffy.

"It looks like I am getting some medicine to stop the ringing in my ears. You are just fatigued," he said.

Mr Osmond said his mental health has suffered.

From a healthy man to dialysis dependent, Steven Osmond's life changed in an instant when he was bitten by a 1.8m brown snake.
From a healthy man to dialysis dependent, Steven Osmond's life changed in an instant when he was bitten by a 1.8m brown snake. Renee Albrecht

"I'm still fighting," he said.

"As for what's after it, I wouldn't have a clue. I'll settle for half health, if I could be up there a little bit I would refocus on life altogether. I wouldn't work so hard, I would find a program of relaxation. I was always open for the outdoors, I loved it, it was my life.

"But now I have a dialysis tube feed into my chest. You can't even have a shower, because if you get any water down there it goes straight to your heart and you die."

After operating a water tank maintenance business for years, Mr Osmond had a healthy respect for snakes.

He would routinely remove massive pythons from old drums. His mantra was 'Be alert, not alarmed'. That has now changed.

"I don't go over that side of the house," he said.

"I don't go out that back door, I'll never go that way.

"I'm pretty confident I will not be able to continue cleaning people's tanks."

Gympie Times


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