Snake bite victim ‘Joe Knows’ was discharged from Victoria Hospital Saturday morning, singing the praises of staff at the health care institution.
The internationally acclaimed Saint Lucia Tour Operator has vowed to do all in his power to assist the hard working nurses and doctors there to get needed equipment to perform their duties.
‘Joe Knows’, whose real name is Josiah Castang, told St Lucia Times that he would not wish his ordeal on anyone.
“I have survived after stepping on one of the most dangerous, poisonous serpents in the world – the fer de lance,” Castang asserted.
He recalled that a doctor told him that he was in God’s hands because 80 percent of the victims do not live to tell the tale.
“I want to thank the hardworking staff of Victoria Hospital – I must put out a big plug for them; the nurses, the doctors, the caretakers did a fantastic job,” Castang told St Lucia Times.
“Big up Doctor Charles; Doctor Jason Tobiere and all the other doctors and nurses – Nurse Butcher, Nurse Anthony and all the rest of them.”
Castang said he remembers them by name because they became so close to him.
“I am telling you, unless somebody goes into Victoria Hospital, lies down on a bed and sees for themselves, they will not know how we are in a mess at Victoria,” the Saint Lucia businessman explained.
He said the antivenom he was given at the hospital worked, although it was not the right one for the fer de lance here.
“Luce and chance my body type with the power of the Holy Spirit – everything connected together,” Castang said.
“I literally watched from my big toe to my thigh – by my waist, just got big as a balloon – ready to blow up,” he told St Lucia Times.
He spoke of a battle in his body involving the snake venom and the anti-venom.
“Somebody had to be there to see it – how serious that thing it. It’s deadly. It’s like acid inside of you – like fire,” Castang recounted.
“There’s nothing you can do but watch your life slip away from you,” he observed.
Castang issued a call for Saint Lucia as a nation and a people to decide what to do about the fer de lance.
The snake bite victim described the serpent as being ‘in our backyard.’
“It’s no longer in our forest – it’s in our backyard,” Castang declared.
He asserted that in terms of what befell him, everything that should not have happened occurred.
“It’s supposed to be an eye-opener so that we can all be on the same page,” Castang said.
“From the Forestry Department to the Ministry to the PS to the Minister to the Prime Minister to the police – everybody needs to be on the same page.”
Castang expressed the opinion that it’s time to look into having the fer de lance anti-venom not only at Victoria Hospital but elsewhere.
“If somebody needs it they should not have to run here and run there,” he told St Lucia Times.
Castang spent some eight days at Victoria Hospital after being bitten by a fer de lance while on a visit to a waterfall in Anse La Raye.
He was initially rushed to Tapion Hospital, but said that institution did not have anti-venom.
Castang acknowledged that there have been public awareness initiatives but he feels that the information is not reaching the masses.
“There is a lot of misinformation. Do we tie the tourniquet on the leg? Do we cut the leg and suck out the venom? I mean – what do we do? Some are saying ‘No’ some are saying ‘Yes’. We need to have proper dialogue on this matter,” the victim told St Lucia Times.
He is of the view that God chose him to be the one for the mishap to befall, knowing that ‘Joe Knows’ is a brand.
“My people follow me like they follow Jesus,” he told St Lucia Times.
He recalled that there was a virtual traffic jam at Victoria Hospital.
“The people that came to see me and the people who were moved and who cried and who thought I would die and lose my leg – it was that serious,” he recalled.
Castang expressed gratitude to all who came to see him and prayed on his behalf.
“God has delivered me and I am here at home just trying to recover,” he stated, while observing that he is not yet out of the woods.
“I am thankful – very, very thankful,” he stated.
He said everyone was amazed at his recovery and how the swelling went down.
“Only my foot is swollen. It’s as big as your head at present,” Castang said.
He disclosed that the doctor has informed him that in time, the swelling will go down.
Castang said he is looking forward to a full recovery.
“More so than anything else I want to say to the people – to the nation that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. We have to begin to think about what we are going to do about Victoria Hospital,” he stated.
Castang asserted that the hospital is in a mess.
He explained that the nurses are working under difficult conditions.
“They don’t have bed sheets; they don’t have pillows; they don’t have beds,” Castang lamented.
He told St Lucia Times that the doctors cut his leg in both sides to allow his muscles to ‘breathe’.
However he said that there was no antiseptic to clean his wounds.
“There was no white vinegar at Victoria while I was there and I had to get one of my staff to go and buy me a gallon to clean my wounds. By the time I made a clarion call, I had about four gallons under my bed,” Castang said.
“No joke. I am speaking the truth – while I was there they had to take from by stock to help other patients.”
“We need help at Victoria Hospital and I don’t care whether you are Yellow, Red or Blue – our people are suffering and dying and we need to rally around Victoria – that’s all we have for now and we might as well invest in it,” Castang exclaimed.
He said that once he gets back on his feet he wants to throw a concert.
“I saw that happen in Jamaica with Shaggy and friends – every January they come and they throw a concert and they raise money for the Children’s Hospital and to help the children.”
“I feel I have enough friends in the events business and the DJ business that we can rally together to raise some funds to buy blankets and pillows and beds and whatever else Victoria needs to function, so that another Saint Lucian may not die; because it’s either you have or you don’t have,” Castang told St Lucia Times in a telephone interview.
He said on the bed next to him was a teacher who taught at the Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary school.
“He got a stroke and it is embarrassing that the man is next to me and the man is suffering and none of his family or people came to see him and my wife and I, our hearts could not stand it because he taught my daughter in form one,” Castang stated.
“We shared what we had with him,” he told St Lucia Times.
“But I am saying to you, if we don’t have how are we surviving? At least I can make do for myself. I am shocked and appalled that as a people, we have forgotten how to love each other and show mercy and compassion. I don’t know where we are going with all of this greed and power and stuff; but we need to go back to the basics where we used to love each other and share the little that we have,” Castang declared.
He vowed to raise funds for Victoria Hospital, promising that even if he has to so so by himself he will do it.