Health Stories

Stung by a deadly fish

Diving into the sea, Brendon had no idea a brush with a fish could send him to the emergency room

Here Brendon Burns, 47, Perth, WA tells the story in his own words. 

Looking forward to a swim, I dived into the sea. I was visiting my mum Vicki and the weather was perfect. 

Suddenly I felt a searing pain in my left hand.

‘Argh!’ I cried, staggering out of the water.

I thought I’d been cut by a broken beer bottle but looking at my swollen hand, I realised it was a sting.

I collapsed onto the sand with the pain.

‘I’ve been stung!’ I yelled, and the whole beach stopped to look.

‘Probably a stingray,’ someone said.

The lifeguard thought it was that too.

‘Either that or a cobbler,’ he said. ‘Just run water over it.’

Mum and I
Mum and I (Source: Supplied)

I’d had testicular cancer and a broken collar bone and it was worse than both those. On a pain scale, it was a 10.

‘You’ve got get me to hospital,’ I groaned.

‘I can’t leave the beach, mate,’ the lifeguard said.

Luckily a woman named Helen offered to drive me to Mum’s, where I hurtled into the bathroom for a cold shower.

It didn’t help. Soon I was in a foetal position screaming in agony.

Mum sped me to hospital in just my towel.

I was blue, shaking, and heaving with nausea.

‘Do your yoga breathing!’ she instructed.

Emergency was packed.

‘I’ve been poisoned,’ I gasped.

I could see everyone thinking – Oh great, this guy’s going to jump the queue!

I found myself on a hospital bed being given a local anaesthetic before having the poison blasted out of my hand by a jet. 

Instantly I felt a lot calmer.

‘I don’t think it was a cobbler,’ I said.

‘No,’ the doctor agreed. ‘It was a Stonefish.’

‘But it hurt so much,’ I said.

He looked at me as if to say, – You’re going to freak when you google this later.

Four hours later, Mum drove me home.

Being a comedian, I was determined to get mileage out of my night.

‘I’m going to do a routine about this,’ I said.

‘No,’ Mum replied. ‘It’s not funny…yet.’

Googling, I learnt stonefish are the most venomous fish in the world.

And cold water makes the pain even worse. It should be hot.

I escaped death that day.

And if I ever find Helen, she’ll have free tickets to my stand-up shows for the rest of  her life.

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