Where in the hell am I?

February 20, 2008

3 years ago today!

Filed under: bite, East Texas, rattlesnake, snake, snakebite, story — John @ 2:43 am

Originally uploaded by Miss_Colleen

Hard to believe it, but it was 3 years ago today that I was bitten by a rattlesnake. Colleen took this photo of the bite area in the hospital, about an hour after it happened. The bite itself is where the blood streaks meet. From what I can tell, there’s no scar there now and I can’t even feel any marks. I think this is the first time I’ve written the story out.
We were doing a metal detector survey along FM 511 outside Brownsville. The road runs along the Palo Alto Battlefield National Park, so we were looking for artifacts from the Texas Revolution. It was an unusually hot Saturday in February (over 80 degrees), and the area had been mowed in the last 3-4 days to prepare for the metal detecting. These help explain how I was bit by a snake in the middle of winter, when they’re normally hibernating or sluggish.
It was lunchtime, and Tina and Colleen went with Rigden down the road to a gas station to use the bathroom. I decided to walk down a two-track along the railroad, far enough from the road to pee in private. While walking back, I noticed some stuff lying under a prickly pear cactus and decided to check it out (it was a pile of clothes).
Suddenly, several things happened at once. I felt a sharp, burning pain in my left ankle. I heard a rattle. I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw a rattlesnake, mouth open, retreating from a bite. I realized that I was in mid-air, jumping sideways away from the snake, totally subconsciously. And then it hit me: I had just been bitten by a rattlesnake!
My first reaction was to scamper away from the snake, hopping on one foot as much as possible. Then I told myself not to panic, to keep my blood flow down. I started yelling at my coworker Josh, who was on the phone by the highway. I limped along until I was finally in earshot, and Josh and Mindy came out to help me to the truck.
I knew where the nearest hospital was, as we had driven by it the past 4 days. So I put my head as far down towards my knees as possible, breathed slowly, and told Mindy how to get there. I tried calling Tina, but she had left her phone in the other vehicle, and Colleen left hers in her room. They would find out when they got back to the project area and saw that only one truck was there.
I walked into the hospital within 20-25 minutes of the bite. I went to the window and told them what happened, and I was sent straight into the emergency room.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of the saga: the hospital!


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