’Worse than a broken back’: Dad’s stonefish hell
A COAST dad says he feared a crab had "bitten my toe off" after a holiday swim with his family at Cotton Tree ended in excruciating pain.
Long-time Coast local Che Chapman, who has lived in WA for the past 3.5 years, was swimming with his children and "dozens of others" at Cotton Tree just before Christmas when he was stung on the foot by a stonefish.
Mr Chapman and his family had been back home for a month over the Christmas break to catch up with family and friends and were among a massive holiday crowd in the water just west of the last sandbags at Cotton Tree when he was stung about 8am.
"I thought a crab had bitten my toe off right in among the holiday crowds and surf school kids outside the caravan park," he said.
"There was blood everywhere and the pain was mental.
"I've broken my back, my sternum, severely crushed a finger … this tops them all for intensity."
He was helped from the water by his two brothers and he said onlookers were stunned as blood poured from his foot.
Mr Chapman said some must've thought he'd stepped on glass in the surf.
"I've spent my whole life surfing the Coast and never thought once about stonefish at local beaches," he said.
His brothers piled Mr Chapman into a beach trolley and pulled him through the caravan park to the nearby medical centre.
Mr Chapman said the doctor, who worked also worked at hospital, "called it straight away" as a stonefish sting.
"She knew instantly what it was due to the look on my face she reckons … the pain is intense," he said.
"She said she works at the hospital and gets quite a few from Caloundra."
His foot was submerged in the hottest water he could bear for an hour, and it was enough time for the pain to subside enough for him to "ride out" the remainder.
"Over two weeks later my toe is still a bit tender … they've got some nasty venom in them," he said.