By DAWN COHEN
Robin Kanters expected to be at the Ballina Cup yesterday, celebrating her birthday.
Instead, she was in Lismore Base Hospital battling a life-threatening brown snake bite.
The 47-year-old Rosebank woman was walking through grass on her farm about 3.15pm on Wednesday when she felt something under her foot.
"I thought I had trodden on a stick," the Alstonville real estate agent said from her hospital bed. "I looked down and just screamed. There was this enormous snake.
"I looked again, and my foot was covered in blood.
"I was with two clients showing them our place because we are selling it. They offered to get bandages but I thought it was just a scratch, and so we walked back to the house.
"Now I know that is the worst thing you can do."
Brown snakes are likely to be found at this time of the year, said Lawrence Orel, spokesperson for NSW National Parks and Wildlife.
"They don't hibernate, but they do become more active, as do humans in spring, and
summer, so there are more sightings in the warmer months.
"They will usually retreat from a heavier animal, so it's best to walk firmly through bush or grass so they can feel your vibration."
Robin's 17-year-old stepson, Brendan, on L-plates and on his first trip to Australia from Holland, drove her to the hospital.
She spent the night in intensive care after a reaction to the antivenom.
"It was worse than the bite," she said. "I couldn't breathe. My body was burning and tingling. I felt like I was on the verge of blowing up and dying.
"They say I could have died from the bite if I hadn't gone to hospital."
Overnight, Robin needed more antivenom. There was none left in the Northern Rivers so some was driven down from the Gold Coast.
Her husband, Jon, couldn't believe it when he got the phone call from his wife saying she had been bitten by a snake.
"All morning I was worried she had had an accident because we were supposed to meet and she wasn't there," he said.
"She called to say something had come up, and I was so relieved. Then in the afternoon she called to say she had been bitten by a brown snake.
"You hear about it happening to other people. You never think it could happen to you."
The couple were planning a double celebration of Robin's birthday and a delayed 30th anniversary, with a jaunt to the Ballina Jockey Club's annual big day, followed by a night at a spa.
"It was supposed to be our first day off in six months," she said.
"We work seven days a week, because we only got JRK Realty in March and we have been running a cleaning business until it got going.
"Last year we learned you should always carry bandages as a precaution against snakes when you go for a walk on the farm. So we did that every time we stepped out the door. But we forgot over winter. I don't think I will forget again."