Thursday, July 24, 2008
I guess I'm one of those people that kind of diddy-bop through life with my head in the clouds or in the place where the sun never shines, but I've never really worried about snakes. When I was a child I dreamed about rattlesnakes, a lot, but that's for another day. When I was much younger than I am now, I worked out in the oil patch down in southern Oklahoma, but that, too, is another story for another day. Yesterday it really came home to me about snakes. I have to say that I have piddled around all of this 3 acres and the only time I've seen a snake was when I was mowing on the riding mower. I go out with my girls and we play ball and we weed and we garden and a lot of the time I'm barefoot with no gloves on. If I see grass or weeds in the flower bed I pull 'em. Never a thought about it. Yesterday my roommate and I had been out pulling up grass around one of the flower beds and after 45 minutes or so we came in for a break and a cool down. I was messing on the computer and she went out to do
some more and in about two minutes was back at the front door and said, "I need your help." So I went out and she said "a snake bit me and I think you should see if you can find it." No panic, no problem. So I followed her out (did I mention that she was in her motorized wheelchair?) and she showed me where she had been digging out grass. I poked around and couldn't see anything and after a couple of minutes told her that I'd try to find it, but I thought we ought to go to the ER now because it takes 25-30 minutes to drive in. By the time we get to the ER, her finger is swelling pretty good and it is hurting like a big dog. It probably would have been hurting more than she realized if her back hadn't started spazzing really, really bad on the way in and that took her mind off the snake bite... I'm talking worse than I've seen her back grab her in over 20 years. Anyway, we got into the room and the doc comes in and makes all these marks on her hand to where the swelling is at that point and asks if we know what kind of snake got her. Of course neither of us did and he says that from the swelling and all he'd bet it was a poisonous snake. Okay, we can deal with that... she's in the hospital where they can take care of her. He decided after a couple of hours that he wanted her to stay and be observed overnight, which is also okay because he's pushed a lot of muscle relaxers and pain drugs into her iv and I figure she will sleep for the next couple of hours or weeks. I drove back to get her some things for overnight and decided that I needed to try to find 'the snake'. Here sister took the bag back in to town to the hospital and I go poking around (after I put on shoes and heavy gloves) digging around where she was earlier. By this time it's 100 degrees out so I'd dig and pull grass some and take a break, cool down and go back out and dig some more. Her sister got back as I was going out the third time and did not volunteer to come help me, but that's okay too because I didn't want to run over her jumping up if I find the little bugger and sure enough, the third time was the charm. I found it. Being a city girl I had no idea what kind it was when I saw it so I got the scoop out of the box where I keep the birdseed and managed to get it into it, twice. He jumped out once and the next time I covered it up with my digging tool and headed to the house... then realized I couldn't open the door without taking a chance on losing it, the snake, I mean, because I was holding the scoop with one hand and the digging tool with the other. I knocked on the sister's window, scaring her because she knew what I was doing and she was afraid it had gotten me also. Nope... just bring me something with a lid on it so I can call the hospital and see if they want me to bring it to them to identify. I got the snake contained, called the hospital and they didn't know what to do so the nurse was going to ask the doctor and call me back. While I waited I went looking, googled Oklahom snakes and as soon as I clicked on this picture -
her sister and I both said "that's it!!!" A western pygmy rattlesnake, a baby because it didn't have any rattles yet. I called the hospital and told the nurse. She didn't know if the doc wanted to see it yet so I told her I'd put it in the freezer and put it to sleep and if the doc wanted it he could call.
I got Missy out of the hospital this morning. They didn't have to administer anti-venom which is a good thing because they say it makes you sicker than a dog... and you can put money on it that I won't be going out barefoot and pulling grass willy-nilly without my heavy gloves on again, because, as my brother put it, where there's smoke there's fire and snakes don't birth one baby at a time. When we got home I pulled the snake out of the freezer and made her look at it and sure enough it was the same one she saw after she got bit... or it's twin (or triplet or ???). But any way you look at it, it's one less venomous snake on our place and, no, Missy didn't want me to try to fry up rattlesnake for her...