In Stories

A Snake on the Bed!

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Dinkar Prasad Singh, a 55-year-old is a farmer from Baraini Village in the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh. He belongs to the Yadav community and has his own farm land and a few Jersey cows and other cattle. He is a heavy, obese man and weighs 106 kg.  His family grows wheat and bajra (pearl millet) in their fields. He has 4 grown up children.

Bite incident:  13th June 2015. Dinkar and his sons were    in a room that had beds spread across the room from wall to wall. At around 1.15 a.m. he felt a sharp pain on his left foot. He got up with a start and realized a cobra was biting him. The snake had to be yanked away. The family panicked. Dinkar was taken to the hospital on a motorcycle.  As they were in a rush to take Dinkar to the hospital, they forgot about the snake.

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It took around 30 minutes to reach Kachwa Christian hospital. By that time Dinkar’s vision had blurred and he had lost consciousness. The resident doctor, Dr Takemba Ao attended to this patient. At the time of the admission, he was GCS 3/15 –  a condition in which only his heart was functioning. There were no other signs of life. Due to Dinkar’s obesity, it was difficult to intubate him. Dr Ao immediately put him on life support and started the first dose of ASV.

Dinkar regained consciousness only on the 5th day of the bite. However, he still needed respiratory support for another 3 days. Necrosis had set in on the local area from the 2nd day of the bite. Tissue damage was severe and spread to the dorsum of his foot. On the 9th day, he was taken off the respiratory support. He received a total of 23 vials of ASV. He was discharged after 18 days. He was later referred to BHU in Varanasi for further treatment of the necrotized area. The wound had festered and chances were his foot could be amputated. The wound needed expert management to ensure his didn’t suffer morbidity. Even today, 8 months after the bite, he does not have sensation on his foot and his left hand has a frozen arm syndrome. Total cost of treatment was Rs 2.5 lakhs (Rs 2,50,000)

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What happened on the 19th day of the bite

On the night of the 19th day, a day after Dinkar was discharged from the hospital, he was sleeping on the same bed as on the   night of the bite. The room was pitch dark. Around 1 a.m. Dinkar and his sons were awakened by a hissing sound. When they switched on the light, a spectacled cobra with its hood spread was seen right in front of the bed. We are not sure if it was the same snake that had bitten Dinkar. In a fit of rage, Gaurav, Dinkar’s 19-year-old son, chopped   the snake in 2 pieces using spear like weapons they kept at home to ward off wild animals raiding the fields and also to guard against dacoity which is rampant in the region.

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Deep seated beliefs in dogmas regarding snakes had made the family perform pujas etc. to ward off the curse (it’s a common belief in India that snakebite is a curse by the snake god). The author inspected Dinkar’s house and provided inputs on the changes that the family should make to guard against untoward incidences like snakebites. The room where the family slept had sacks of grains, a pot filled with water and miscellaneous items packed into it along with wall-to-wall beds. This was a perfect habitat for rodents. The gap between the house wall and the roof was almost 6 inches. This gap was not meshed and gave snakes and other animals easy access to the interior of the house. The author provided guidance on snakebite management and how to avoid being bitten in the first place.

To know more about snakebite management, do follow the below mentioned link

http://www.she-india.org/halla-bol-penned-by-priyanka-kadam/

 

Written by Priyanka Kadam

6 Comments

  • Dr UN Nandakumar
    Feb 22, 2016 at 08:30 pm

    The story is quite interesting and Ms. Priyanka Kadam narrated it beautifully . It highlighted the relevance of ‘ She’ for snake bite healing and conservation of snakes. Congrats& best wishes Ms. Priyanka kadam.

    • admin
      Feb 24, 2016 at 01:58 am

      Thank-you Sir!

  • Rom Whitaker
    Feb 23, 2016 at 05:20 pm

    Really interesting story. They seemed to do the right thing but yet so much morbidity. Imagine the hundreds or thousands of snakebite stories around the country. Cheers, Rom

    • admin
      Feb 24, 2016 at 02:10 am

      Thanks Rom. One stark difference in this story from many others is that this family is financially better off then most of the snakebite victims who come from extremely modest circumstances. Dinkar’s family was able to bear the cost of traveling from their village to Varanasi twice a week and pay for the treatment to save the limb from further morbidity.

  • Vishal Santra
    Feb 23, 2016 at 06:45 pm

    Interesting story. I had a couple of situations when I was alone in a 30 square kilometre area doing snake management. Then over the years boys and girls from different aspect of life came and joined me. Most left but a few dedicated and crazy lot stayed…

    1. In the year 2006 I got a hysteric call from a man talking gibberish. It was 11.32 at night. September. A 13 kilometre drive and I am confronted by some 20/25 people in front of a house. Mud house with a veranda. A cradle with a new born. 2 months. A group of 5/6 ladies consoling another lady who is getting fainted every minute. Talking gibberish. Husband with folded hands and a crying face. I asked them what is it..?? The father pointed at the cradle. I walk to it. The mother faints. I flash my light. I almost fainted. A 2 month old baby sleeping wrapped in small pieces of clothes, covered with only the face and forehead visible. And a tail across the face. Bungarus caeruleus. Head and rest of the body inside the wrapped clothes. A decision has to be made. So many things started crowding in my head. I was clueless… Not being able to decide was becoming more painful. I had to take a chance. First thing I did was to call an Ambulance and have it on standby. Second I called the nearest Govt. hospital to stay standby and inquired about ASV stock, Atropine, Neostigmine stock. When the back up was ready I decided to give it a try. Interestingly the snake had not moved an inch. I removed the first layer of the cloth. NO. Then the second. Yes. The head was by the side of the baby’s left thigh. I was operating from the right. I came to the left without spooking the snake. First I though of hooking the snake and leave the baby as he is. But suddenly the thought came why not leave the snake as it is and scoop the baby up. I did the second. Then as they say everything else is History….

    I reckon what Rom sir has said in his comment. Imagine the hundreds and thousands of bite across India… I see so many during season. I see the pain, the suffering the total chaos and a terrible situation for any budding conservationist.

    Vishal

    • admin
      Feb 24, 2016 at 02:19 am

      Dear Vishal – Thank you for sharing this story with us. That baby is lucky to have survived sharing its cradle with a Krait. Kudos to the way you handled the situation. Made sure the emergency treatment was at the door step before going in for the final rescue. Such situations have a happy ending only when dealt with in a rational way. The family was lucky to have you in the neighborhood. Here’s three cheers to the young conservationist 🙂

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