Jellyfish sting plunges diver into world of pain
ERIC CROSSLEY endured 10 hours of pain after being stung by one of the sea’s most venomous creatures, an irukandji jellyfish.
Mr Crossley, an experienced diving instructor, was surveying oyster shells about 6km off Quondong Point on the Dampier Peninsula in March when his hood slipped loose and he felt a sting on his neck.
He hoped it was not from the tiny, but sometimes deadly critter, which is said to deliver a sting 100 times more potent than a cobra and 1000 times more than a tarantula. But an excruciating battle soon began.
The West Australian understands the incident involving Mr Crossley, 30, came amid a big increase in the number of irukandji stings involving those working in the pearl diving industry this season. Broome’s Cable Beach was closed twice in April after two women were stung in separate incidents.
“It felt like a gentle sting and I very sincerely hoped it wasn’t what I thought it was,” Mr Crossley, from Bath in England, said.
“Then as time went on, the symptoms pretty much in order as listed on Wikipedia set in.
“Around the quarter-of-an-hour mark, you start to feel a bit of tightness in the chest and half an hour afterwards you start to feel like you may be having a heart attack.
“The cold sweats come in, lower back pain, joint pain and then I started vomiting while they got everything in order to get me back to the hospital. It’s quite similar to the muscle cramps and spasms you get during severe food poisoning, but it’s all over your body and constantly pulsating waves.
“You can feel it in every inch of your body because every single one of your nerves are on fire and everything that can hurt, hurts.”
Mr Crossley said he only briefly had the common feeling of dread linked with irukandji syndrome as the people treating him had reassured him that his fitness and good health would help him survive.
After several doses of opium-based fentanyl made no impression on his pain, he was injected with 20mg of morphine and passed out.
He vowed never to dive in the same waters again, but once his decompression-like symptoms had subsided he was back at work after 15 days.
Mr Crossley did not have any hard feelings against his attacker. “It’s not his fault, is it?” he laughed.