I am not a good liar. I told my girlfriend Ciku we were meeting an insurance agent somewhere on Waiyaki Way (Somewhere? Pathetic liar). When we got to Limuru the questions began; where are we going, what time are we supposed to be there, how do we get back, what is the name of the agent, why are we going out of our way and we are the clients? I refused to say anything.
When we checked into the hotel in Naivasha, it finally dawned her; she had been played! We decided to have dinner before freshening up. The food was awesome but what was even better was the look on Cikus face. She couldn’t believe I had pulled that one off. Her only dilemma was how to tell her friends that she wouldn’t make it for the next day’s plan.
After dinner we walked back to the room enjoying the sounds of birds and crickets chirping, the evening breeze blowing gently through the trees and the gibbous moon glamorously shinning in the open skies surrounded by a constellation of stars. The same sky doesn’t have the same appeal in Nairobi. Ciku tried to identify a few constellations but all I could think of was swimming the following day.
When we got to the room we found Maina the hotel attendant had already drawn the mosquito nets and you could tell he had sprayed the room with insecticide as we had requested. Ciku went on to confirm her obvious beauty on the bathroom mirror. The taps were running as we waited for the water to get hot. (We waste too much clean water in Kenya). I was busy connecting my laptop to the hotel room TV so that I could watch some Ross Kemp documentaries my former colleague Audrey had told me were a nice watch. I was bare feet.
Suddenly, I felt a sharp sting on my right heel. Surprised, I jumped hoping to see the insect that wanted to ruin the beginning of my nice weekend. But it wasn’t an insect. I was in a lot of pain. I told Ciku to get out of the bathroom and out of the room. The taps were still running but that was the least of our worries.
The snake was still in the room. Since there was nothing else to use as a weapon, I gave Ciku my laptop cable and told her to make sure the snake doesn’t leave the room as I went to get Maina to help me kill it. The watchman seemed skeptical about at first but he tagged along as well.
We found Ciku had moved from her “designated post” because the snake had threatened to leave the room and she took off. Maina and I spotted where it was hiding. The watchman who was better armed to handle the situation quickly joined Ciku outside when he saw what we were dealing with. I don’t blame him. Maina moved the bin where the snake was hiding and I hit it hard on the abdomen with a broom. It finally showed its head and I introduced it to the broom. I was on a revenge mission powered by adrenaline. I had not since how long it was until it lay lifeless on the floor.
I quickly asked Ciku for her belt and scarf and tied my leg (the doctor was later to inform us that you should never tie yourself if bitten by a snake). We quickly drove to the nearest hospital as Ciku tried calling some “major” hospitals in Nakuru to find out if they were open. When we got to one of the hospitals, the security guard demanded to know what we wanted before he could open the gate. It is a hospital! Maina later explained that the hospital had been robbed a couple of times hence the tight security. Who robs a hospital?
The doctors attended to us quickly as others just came to see the snake and not the patient. I was put on a drip and given a pain killer shot as the doctors debated if the hospital had anti-venom or not. Sadly, they did not and we were told we had to go check in Nakuru town. It was now a few minutes to midnight. As I drove all the way to Nakuru, Ciku googled “snake bite for dummies”. Unfortunately, none of the hospitals in Nakuru private or public that were open that night had the anti-venom.
One of the doctors in a bid to encourage me read from a chat on the wall the stages of a snake bite. He said since the first 30 minutes were the worst, I was clearly out of danger. I wasn’t sure how to use that particular information. My leg was numb and painful. I couldn’t walk without support. James one of the hotel staff who had accompanied us offered to drive us back to the hotel.
By the time we got to the hotel at around 2.30am, the pain was unbearable. Ciku and I (plus the dead snake in the boot) decided to drive back to Nairobi and not risk waiting till morning to be disappointed. Every time we came to a roadblock, the police would see the drip on my hand and ask too many questions. One even asked Ciku why she did not cut my foot and suck out the poison (this too the doctor later advised is not good because it could infect the wound further). To stay awake and alert and maybe prepare for the possible “next level” all we could do was recite any Bible verses we had memorized.
After driving for about two hours we got to Nairobi at around 5am. I could not move my leg. Ciku dashed to get a wheelchair and quickly dashed me to the casualty area. As we waited to see the doctor I developed a fever and my blood pressure shot up. We had decided not to call anyone just yet so that we don’t cause panic but it was now inevitable. I called my sister Mercy and in a few minutes she came with her husband Mike and found me on another drip to manage the fever and blood pressure.
Though the hospital had the anti-venom, no one knew how to administer it. They had to consult, and they did for quite a while. My brother Mike called a doctor friend who thankfully knew how to administer the anti-venom. Tired, sleepy, in pain and medicated I dozed off. When I woke up Ciku had called my friend Soxxy and as usual he was laughing and making fun of me saying he does not know anyone who was ever bitten by a snake.
At around midday, I was released to go home after one of the surgeons advised that I see him the following day for checkup. He explained that the body was already fighting the venom and I would recover in no time.
I have now fully recovered. The anti-venom was very expensive, but my greatest concern is the state of our hospitals at night. What was even more heart breaking was that I could not get the treatment in any of the hospitals in Nakuru town and had to drive back to Nairobi in the middle of the night to get treated. Clearly devolution is still struggling and we really need evaluate the health sector in Kenya.
The snake ended up surprising me more than I surprised Ciku but thank God I am alive to surprise her again in future. I am blessed to have family, friends and colleagues who came to see me and called frequently to check on me but to also ask the same question Soxxy asked “Who gets bitten by a snake”? I know a guy and now, you do too.
Spread the love. Not Venom. Happy Valentines