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A Peek Inside My Snake Journal

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Posted by Serplover on June 21, 2001 at 17:18:07:

I keep a "Snake Journal/Calendar" with feeding, cleaning & observations noted almost daily. Here's an excerpt from January 31st-early February this year.


10pm-Almost Bought The Farm!

Well the dreaded happened. The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake got me! I found out that it HAS been defecating. I just hadn't seen it because it was coiled up on top of it! So I hooked it with the hanger and was moving it to the other end of the tank. Needless to say it was getting quite agitated. I propped it's shelter up against the end of the tank to "shield" it from me while I cleaned the dirty end of the tank. I was a little worried that it would still be able to get around the shelter and "tag" me so I pinned it behind the head, grabbed it's neck, Made sure I had a good hold of it and started to pick it up. THAT'S WHEN IT GOT ME! Sort of twisted it's jaws and neck right in my hand and nailed me on my right index finger! DAMN! I put it in another container and checked out the wound. Didn't look good. Started to swell almost immediately. I sucked and spit from the wound as best I could without speeding up the circulation. There was still a tiny chance that it hadn't invenomated me. The swelling and slight pain COULD just (luckily) be from the impact of the bite. I sure was hoping. But to no avail. It got me alright! I quickly cleaned the dirty part of it's tank trying to keep my right hand elevated as much as possible. I put it back in it's tank, locked it up and headed up the stairs to get to the hospital as quickly as I could without panicking. Sharon, Louise, Sean and Jessica were in the living room. I told Sharon she had to take me to the hospital that the Rattlesnake had bit me about 15 minutes earlier. Everybody started to freak out and get scared so I kind of calmed them down and had Sharon call 911. The paramedics were on their way! It took them about 6-7 minutes to arrive and the first thing they did was check my blood pressure. They strapped me on the stretcher and headed me over to County Hospital. (Froedeort Hospital on Watertown-Plankington Road.) The Milwaukee County Zoo (and antivenom) would be right down the street. Breathing started to become difficult so they gave me oxygen. It took about 15 minutes to get to the hospital and there was a team standing by ready to go to work on me. They hooked me up to IV's and monitors immediately. Breathing increasingly difficult and becoming nauseous. Intense vomiting. The pain increasing with every passing moment. I can feel it moving up my arm like a searing fire. They're giving me morphine for the pain but it doesn't seem to be helping much. We're waiting for more vials of Western Diamondback Rattlesnake antivenom. (The Zoo only had 2 left so they're Life-Flighting 8 more vials from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Illinois, thus causing the delay.) It's right around Midnight now. That's about 2 hours since the invenomation! More and more vomiting. Increased swelling not only around the bite wound but about way up my forearm.

THURSDAY 2/01/01

1am-Early AM Close Call!

The pain & vomiting is almost unbearable! They have to do a skin test to see if I'm allergic to the anti-venom. Left thigh/anti-venom, right thigh/ sayleen solution. Should take about 1/2 an hour. If there's any reaction to the anti-venom I've got several choices. 1) Take the anti-venom anyway and risk death. 2) Allow my own anti-bodies to try and fight off the venom also risking death. And 3) Amputate the limb to stop the spreading of the venom. All in all not a great menu to look over!

1:30am-...Whew! No reaction to the "horse serum"! But the PAIN! UGHHHHHHHH!!!

2:00am-Almost Bought the Farm!

A combination of the venom, antivenom, morphine and another pain medication put my vitals in critical! I was checking out and I knew it! I could see everyone standing over me rubbing me, prodding me, poking me and saying, "Stay with us Mike! You can do it! C'mon Mike! You're a good patient! Hang in there!" I could hear the oxygen machines going. Buzzers, sirens and alarms going off. I could sense the chaos, panic and urgency in their voices. I sort of "tensed up" a couple of times and then just totally, blissfully relaxed. I even can remember thinking, wow, this is what it's like to die! Not too bad at all. I was like on the other side of the room, then the hallway seemingly getting farther and farther away. Then I remember thinking that , wait a minute my kid's aren't here! What'll happen to them? At that moment it seemed like I was looking back up again at the people working on me. I could hear them say, "That's it Mike! Don't leave us! You can do it! Hang in there!" Iwas grabbing and holding onto someone's hand when I drifted off to sleep. Yes. Just plain, ordinary SLEEP! There was definitely a difference between the exhausted feeling of "physical sleep" & what I had just experienced. That's the best way I can explain it.

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