We’ll remember our first night in Etosha for a very long time, and for one very good reason: a bloody axe wound. In fact, even if we wanted to forget about it, we couldn’t. The 4-inch scar down my left forearm will see to that.
It was all going so well. We were finally in Etosha, the fire was going, the first beer was down and the sun had just set on a pretty awesome day. Then I did something stupid. Whilst attempting to replace the axe’s rubber safety cover (the thing that’s supposed to protect you from the blade) my hand slipped and I looked down to see a fair portion of my arm sliced wide open. Idiot!
There was mild pandemonium in camp as we hauled out the first aid kit, flung its contents across our little camping table and proceeded to draw up a game plan fueled by adrenalin, hyperventilation and a healthy dose of panic. It probably (definitely) should have been stitched up. But the problem was that we weren’t sure how long it would take to find someone who could actually do that. Fortunately, we had a few boxes of Steri Strips in our first aid kit – the next best thing according to our friendly GP; Dr. Saner. The deft Dr. Kerryn Maggs had my axe wound cleaned and plastered together in no time. Before she did that however, she managed to inflict more pain on me than a hundred axes ever could (an exaggeration, obviously). When using Steri Strips, they say you should put a bit of good old Friar’s Balsm into the cut and onto the surrounding skin. It’s super sticky and helps to hold everything together. This is what Kerryn did – or rather, what Kerryn thought she was doing. Our bottle of Friar’s Balsm looks almost identical to our bottle of calamine lotion, and this is what Kerryn actually poured into the gaping wound. Now, I’ve never been stung by a box jellyfish, a stone fish or a swarm of hornets, all at the same time, but I would imagine that sensation would be quite similar to what I experienced as half a bottle of calamine lotion oozed its way into the fleshy recesses of my forearm. Tears were shed. On both sides.
But as they say, all’s well that ends well. It has been just over a week and my axe wound seems to be healing nicely. Kerryn has become a lot more intimately acquainted with the contents of our first aid kit and, for the time being, I’ve been forbidden from any form of blade-wielding whatsoever.