How we thought I had Melioidosis and how T. was bitten by spider…
I always dreamt about having a garden full of salads, herbs and vegetables. I imagined myself with big boots and a watering can in my hand, walking across the wet grass of the morning, listening to singing birds.
I dreamt about the day I would cook, bake, pickle and dry my own products from my own garden.
However, when you live in Prague, in an apartment, you can only dream about it. So I was going to my family’s cottage where we have actually one of these beautiful gardens and I continued to dream about having my own one day.
Maybe because I was dreaming about it or maybe it was just a coincidence, but the dream came to fruition with a big change in my life circumstances. It just happened, one day I moved to Australia, to live in the Northern Territory.
I was lucky because the garden I dreamt of was waiting here for me. I don’t mean a garden with vegetables and herbs but a perfect place where I could make it.
It started like a classical day. We woke up and I made breakfast with T. I gave him lunch and kissed him goodbye, and after that I decided to start building this dream garden, step by step.
I was lucky because close to our house were two huge planter boxes which someone had left behind. So my plan became clearer.
The first step was to prepare a space for the planter boxes. However the place where I wanted to put them was covered with bricks. It meant I had to take out every single brick and move them somewhere else.
Why did I insist on having the planter box on the grass instead of bricks?
The second step was to remove the soil from the box. In the beginning it looked like 15 kg of soil. After two hours, when I was only half done, I realised that I was wrong. I am guessing that the box contained at least 150 kg of wet soil.
When finally I had removed all of the soil I was dirty and sweaty, and ready for the third step – moving the box.
I really don’t know why I thought it would be easy.
After moving the box to the right spot and losing another half litre of water, the last challenge came. The fourth step was to put the soil back in the box. After a few hours I went home to finally wash myself.
However in the shower I felt a little shock. My right hand had a few large calluses which were full of blood and soil. So I decided I would move the second box another day. Mainly because I spent 6 hours outside, which here, is a lot. I sat on the couch, happy and satisfied, and waited for T. so I could show him all that I had done.
However when he arrived home and opened the door, his first question was: “Did you use gardening gloves?” I smiled a little bit and answered: “Of course not. Do we have gardening gloves? Of course not.” I said to myself that I didn’t use them in the Czech Republic, so why should I use them here. Ridiculous.
But T. continued to ask. “Are you injured? Any open wounds?” I looked at my hands, hid them behind my back, and like a small child, answered with hesitation: “Maybe..?”
T. grabbed my hands and with shock just said: “Holy shit!”
In this moment I started to feel like there was probably something wrong. So I asked him what was going on, and told him I had washed my hands already. Yeah there was still some soil but I would need a small brush to clean it, which we also don’t have.
However T. was in his scary mood and told me with a serious expression: “Do you understand that you could die?” I just answered “of course I don’t understand” and I told him that he dramatises everything and it is ridiculous. I just left the room to disinfect the calluses, hoping this would make him happy.
My continuing calm made his anxiety stronger and he became more frustrated. He started to google some articles about something called Melioidosis.
I don’t know about you guys, but I had never heard of it in my whole life.
So I read these articles about living in tropical areas and how dangerous it is do anything here without gloves, how people have died because of this bacteria which gives you similar symptoms to the flu.
When I finished reading I didn’t feel nice, which T. didn’t help by calling his mum, who is a nurse and had worked with people who had this bacteria. She asked me many questions and told us that T. must observe me for a couple of days.
I don’t know if you know it, but I think what usually happens when somebody mentions symptoms to you, you usually start to feel like you have them. The brain can be a bitch.
I got only a cough from the air-conditioning, so nothing bad happened until next day.
When we woke up the next day, I saw that T. had one swollen right arm with two bites on his skin.
After asking him what happened to his arm, he simply replied, without a blink, that probably a white spider had bitten him. I tried to be calm so I just responded by asking: “Where would have you been bitten by a white spider? This is a nonsense.” But T. made it better and said: “In our bed of course.”
I don’t think a worse possible answer exists. At that moment I didn’t like Australia for the first time. What’s more, I was not able to understand how we could have a spider in our tiny but very clean house, especially when we have grids covering all the windows and doors, or how it is possible that some spider is that cheeky and able to come bite us during the night.
We also knew that if his arm wouldn’t get better in a few days he would have to go to the clinic. To be honest healing is the other problem in a tropical area. It takes a long time.
Fortunately, after a few days his arm healed and we could relax. Well, relax until the time that one day T. pulled back the sheets and found the dead bug. It was about 7 cm long and looked like a wasp with huge antennae.
They say shocks make you stronger and probably it’s true. My reaction wasn’t a hysterical scream (like the day when I saw a 10 cm long cockroach flying around and trying to attack us), or a frightened scream (like the day a cockroach jumped on my hand when I opened a cupboard). Instead of hysteria I looked at the bug and asked “what is it?” Then we started to google entomological websites.
After two weeks in the NT I realised that with hysteria and the denial of some basic facts, like that I am living in a place with 1000 kinds of insects, spiders, reptiles, birds, crocodiles, amphibians, and other kind of mammals but also bacterias, I can’t help myself. There is only one thing which I can do and it is to be careful, enjoy it, but also check everything just in case.
PS: I am really looking forward to the day I will see some huge spider or snake. Then the vision of peace, calm and joy will be gone instantly.