Wednesday, August 01, 2018

How the Jellyfish Sting almost Killed My Sister

The death of a seven-year-old Filipino-Italian Gaia Trimarchi because of a jellyfish sting during an island-hopping tour in Caramoan (Philippines) brought back the memory of how my sister almost died because of having the same experience.

The little girl who was a gold medalist in swimming competitions in Italy died in her mother’s arms on the way to the hospital. She was stung by the box jellyfish, the world’s most poisonous creatures which kills 20-40 people in the Philippines every year.

The sea is treacherous and it was a painful lesson my friends and I learned several years ago…

I was awakened by a shrill of scream that penetrated the depth of the night. My eyes riveted in the darkness that shrouded me. But, no…it was more than that…the cry was familiar…I chilled when I heard it again. I wasn’t dreaming…

It was almost end of the summer when my former classmates in elementary agreed to spend an overnight swimming in a nearby town’s beach resort. Many of them were in their last days of vacation and about to be back in Manila for their studies.

I decided not to join them since I needed to finish the University requirements the following day. My parents were also quite adamant to permit us. However, after several “conscience pleadings” from my friends and prodding from my sister, I finally relented.

After dinner, one of my friends and I spent our time walking along the shore while others were swimming. Not long after, she decided to join the rest of the group and I fell asleep in the cottage.

The trip immediately turned into a nightmare.

I was trembling when I scrambled on my feet trying to figure out where the sound came from. Then, I saw a friend running while shouting my name. She told me that my sister was stung by a jellyfish also known as salabay.

I saw the group pouring her water and struggling to remove some tentacles that perforated her skin. She was screaming so loudly that I could still hear vividly the terror on her voice. She also fainted several times. We immediately brought her to the nearest hospital after being told by the cottage owner she didn’t have anything for first aid.

When we reached the hospital, she was still unconscious and her arms were swollen as if painted with ugly red lines. Her legs were also full of red stripes.

Time occurred in a haze. When we finally got home, my sister was writhing with fever. Her arms were so swollen. My friends explained to my furious parents what happened while I was in shock the whole time. She was crying non stop and she was brought again to the hospital. She stayed there for about two days but her condition only worsened. She had on and off fever and her blood pressure was so high.

It was the second night when my parents were warned my sister could not make it. We brought her to a bigger hospital in the city and she was given 24 hours to live. Despite of the pain relievers administered, she was constantly in pain.

My sister survived that traumatic accident. However, the tentacles left permanent scars on several parts of her body. Her skin was severely damaged and until now the ugly red blemishes are still visible. Don't be deceived by the beauty of the sea. Always take precautions and bring something for first aid.

What to do when you get stung by a jellyfish? Click here.


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