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Snakes, Worst of the Worse
Posted by Bethaney - Tagged , ,

“There’s a snake in my boot,”

-Woody, Toy Story

 “Enough is enough! I have had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday through Friday plane!”

-Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes on a Plane (TV edit)

Just a few innocent weeks ago, I wrote about the dangers and/or annoyances that come with country living. Scorpions in the house, spiders lurking in drawer corners, ants in the windowsill – I was really cheesed off at these ever-present critters … and I told it to the Internet world. It was the blogging equivalent of not knocking on wood.

Saturday, in a series of Lemony Snicket-like events, Manny was bitten by a copperhead snake. It was if, upon reading my post, in annoyance, Mother Nature said “You have no idea of what I’m capable of,” and struck down her venomous fist of fury.

It all started with the rain. After record droughts in Kansas for most of the summer, we finally began getting some serious moisture. Inches and inches of it. Although humid, the ground was soaked and I leaped with each drop. Rain dancing for celebration, my polka dot galoshes even made a long awaited appearance. They were just as excited as I was.

Later that night, Manny was searching for light-able logs to fuel our bonfire. To remedy wet wood, he stuck his hand into the dry darkness to find unsoaked material, which also happened to be a copperhead snake’s lair. Pure chance and butthole-ish luck, it one-fanged him. Quick and painful, the brief blow was enough to cause intense pain, swelling, and a going-on three-day hospital visit — which is the abbreviated version. No offense, I’ve just told the story 142 times in the past 55 hours.

Not that I had a pre-planned scenario of how a venom bite would play out, but the real-life event was nothing like I’d expected. Unlike Kaa from the Jungle Book, no hypnotization was used to lure the copperhead’s prey. The snake didn’t play soothing music, lure his victim to sleep, or act as the world’s most impressive contortionist. Nor did he have a lisp. Instead he was in hiding, only injecting with a needle-like fang after his home was threatened – a real anti-climactic version of what Disney had prepared me for.

As for the antivenom, it too was a shocker. No nurses ran in the ER toting along a giant needle before thrusting it into his heart … or at the very least, the site of the bite. It was just a boring old IV bag, like it was oddly colored saline, which was administered slowly and with care. It’s as though watching cartoons did nothing to prepare me for life.

All in all, the whole snakebite situation is ironic, him being a wildlife biologist and handling dangerous creatures regularly. (But still no less terrifying.)

Professionally, he must have given tens of talks on the dangers of snakes, and handled them, venomous* and regular, with skill and confidence. Yet this lone snake caught him off guard.

As Phoebe Buffay once said, “Given my lifelong search for irony you can imagine how happy I am.”

The only comforting fact is that Manny and his wildlife-trained friends were able to identify the reptile, and knew proper protocol for dealing with the bite.

Should the event ever happen again (this time I knocked) now I too will know the steps to take. Previously, I tried not to get involved with much of the wildlife. They lived their lives and I lived mine, but never in unison. As a peace offering, however, unless they posed a serious threat, I let them live, usually calling on Manny to whisk them to the freedom of outdoors.

This snake won’t be so lucky.

*Venom has to travel through the blood stream to be effective, while poison affects the skin. In theory, one could drink venom and see no effects, assuming they had no internal cuts or sores. (Don’t try this.)

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