Anyone ever been stung by a jellyfish? As of yesterday, I’m fortunate enough to be able to answer that question with a yes, twice. Although I’m pretty sure that yesterday it was a Bluebottle Portuguese Man-of-War — technically not a jellyfish — that just happened to cross my path while swimming on one of the sandy beaches of the Sunshine Coast. Just my luck.
My first encounter with these stinging blobs of the sea happened quite some time ago, when I was very young on a trip to the beach with my Nan and cousin Andrew. I was happily splashing about in the waves when I felt a strange scratching sensation on the inside of my left forearm as the jellyfish brushed past.
It wasn’t too long before I was bawling my eyes out in the back of the car, my arm all red and blistering, throbbing with pain as we searched for some kind of hospital or doctor’s surgery. Eventually we found a place and they administered some vinegar and bandaged the area, which eased the pain a little, but I still had the swelling and itch for a day or two afterwards and vowed never to swim at the beach again, although that didn’t last long.
Yesterday’s brush with misfortune was not quite as severe as I remember my first to be. Perhaps it’s just that I’m a lot older now. Pain thresholds seem to stretch and expand over the years. I was braving the waves of the windy beach, further out than any of the others. My hand coming down into the water must have caught the trailing tentacles of the bluebottle and I knew instantly what had happened and what I was about to experience.
It wasn’t so bad making my way back to shore, picking off the few broken blue tentacles and I wondered if maybe it wouldn’t get any worse, but I could never be so lucky. The ice from the lifeguards helped a little, but then the pain began to spread up along the length of my arm and I began to feel a little dizzy as the pain and poison coursed through my body, leaving me in a kind of dazed state for a little while where I contemplated the chances of that jellyfish and myself coming together at that precise point in time and about all the events in the history of the universe leading up to that exact moment.
Anyway, some Stingoes gel and Panadol soothed a little and we decided to continue our swim at the local pool.