Friday, May 24, 2013

Tommy Goff

Again followers, I owe you an apology. It has been way too long since my last post. I know that life gets busy for everyone, and I promised to write every day that I had a connection...I'm a slacker. I'm sorry. ...Now that we have that out of the way....

Meet the Tommy Goff...The Fer-De-Lance...a nasty little cuss. When you read about him, you will read that he is not necessarily a deadly snake. Then right away, the author will site that his bugger causes more snake bite deaths than any other snake in Belize. I know the locals fear him, and I believe the locals. the toughest 7 year od in Belize! This child was playing in his yard and was struck by the Tommy Goff. His mother is Mayan, and they live in a Mayan village. His father was at the river fishing when the strike occurred. Mom jumped to action and brought the local Mayan Healer out to assist her. Within minutes the man was there. He made a small slit in between the punctures from each fang, and sucked out the poison. Then he mixed a poultice and applied it to the area. Dad was alerted and the family brought the boy to Dangriga, where the hospital is located.

Sweet little brave soul...The little guy said to me that he was glad it happened to him and not his 3 year old sister. He said she wasn't tough enough to take it, and she could have died. There is no doubt as to the strength of this little fella'! One in a million, he is my newest hero. He pulled through and made a full recovery. Thanks to the cooperation of the native healer, and the modern hospital. As with all of Belize, the best parts are when the traditional marries with the modern.

I got to spend a couple hours with this little guy. In Belize, there are not enough nurses to provide bedside care like we have in the States. When a loved one gets hospitalized, the family is expected to remain at the bedside and care for the patient. I don't mean they all become doctors...I mean, the family bathes the patient. The family provides food, and feeds the patient if necessary. The family assists the patient to the restroom. As this trip to the hospital was unplanned and emergency, the child's mother had not prepared for a long stay at bedside. When we arrived, (and the boy took to me right away) she stepped out a moment to freshen herself up, and make some phone calls to the extended family still in the village wondering about the child's well being. I have a Belize cell phone, but the only one who calls me on it (aside from Sean) is Mayan friend....from the jungle remember her?

So...I have all these phone minutes and they will last me for I happily gave my phone to Mom to make her calls. She quickly told me that she would be speaking in her native tongue, almost as though she was apologizing for it. I assured her that the Mayan dialects are fascinating to me, and I listen like someone who is hearing music for the first time. I told her that she could just take the phone with her while she went to freshen up at her sister in law's house. She said she wanted to call her mother and brother in the village. I assured her that she could call Prime Minister, David Barrow, and talk to him until my minutes run out if she liked. I think that made her feel better; I know it made her laugh! I was reminded by her "almost ashamed" attitude toward her language of the heavy heart Marci's mom carries for the young generation of Mayan. This boy's mom is probably...25? She knows the native tongue, but I fear that Marci's Mom is right...I don't think she is teaching it to the children. Sad. Unless the traditional is preserved here in Belize, the country will definitely be the one who loses. How do you explain to a young mother, who is so proud of her modern children, that her ancient heritage is beyond comparison? SIGH....

While I sat with the patient, he asked me to tune his television to something he would enjoy. I clicked the channels for him and he settled on wrestling. (7yo boys...go figure.) We watched the show for a while and talked. He said he likes Orange Soda...and Sean promptly brought one to him. (I picked the right guy for sure.) When his mother returned, she had some clothing for the child to freshen up as well. She borrowed something from the boys (much older and larger) cousin. I kissed my new hero and promised to come to his village and visit him. This is a promise I will not take lightly. Sometime between now and fall, I will visit him. I will bring some little gift for him and something for his sister. ...And I will treat him like the celebrity he should be! He said he will show me where the snake was when he got bitten. I have made a friend for life. <3

His father said that he found the snake and killed it. My friend Walter, his brother, is not convinced that he did indeed find the snake. Lore states that unless the Tommy Goff is killed, the victim of the bite will surely die. The adults may or may not believe that, but they all have hearts enough to assure the little guy the snake is dead. He will never be hurt again by it. Dads are the same everywhere too!

There is a story about a Village Healer who was called out to treat a Tommy Goff bite. He did the same thing that was done for this child. The story says the Medicine Man ingested the poison while removing it, and that HE died as a result. Second hand venom supposedly killed him. It seems plausible enough to me. All myths are somewhat based in reality, and so perhaps this one is fact. I will never know for sure. What I do know...the lesson to learn from this for that I need a phone number for a Healer!


  1. The belief in the healer probably helped the boy until he could get to the hospital more than the actual action of the healer. When you are bitten by a venemous snake the poison instantly enters your bloodstream and is transported through the body. the venom of a fer-de-lance is a hemotoxin. every snakebite protocol article you read will say do NOT cut the bite and attempt to "suck the poison out" because the poison is already circulating throughout the body. Some remains at the wound site, trapped in tissues, but not as much as in in circulation. Snake fangs are like hypodermic needles and work exactly the same way.

  2. I believe...that much is certain. :) Again...thank you for your input. :) Good information....