Evan and Lydia were playing on our back deck last night and came running inside saying they found a snake. This sort of thing happens all the time. Not the snake, but they love all kinds of creepy crawling things and love to tell me about what they see – from ants to millipedes to big birds and squirrels. I didn’t think much of it but went out to see and sure enough, right outside my back door was a snake. I didn’t recognize it right off, but it looked suspect to me. And while it wasn’t huge in my book, it was big enough to be on the scary side of snakiness. There was a box on my dining room table that we’d used to bring our chickens home and it was just the right size so I got up behind the snake before he could get off the deck and threw the box over it so I could go look up what kind it was and decide what to do with it. (I generally don’t like to kill animals unless they are dangerous.)
On the way to the computer Lydie yelled something at me about “That snake bit Evan mommy!” Evan hadn’t looked or sounded like anything was wrong up to this point, but when I finally looked at him I noticed his little hand was wrapped up in his shirt and he was holding it with his other hand. I asked him if it bit him and he said, very calmly, “yah.. it just bit me right there…” he pulled his hand out and upon seeing the teeny tiny blood spot he began to scream. From there I had all kinds of visions of old cowboy movies where they cut open the wound and suck out the poison. I’m not a squeamish person by nature, but when it comes to my kids, I’d rather have someone else doing the cutting and sucking. Anyway.. I called 911 and while I was talking to them I looked up the snake. Sure enough, it was a copperhead.
I think the most entertaining part of the evening was watching my husband and two firemen preparing to kill the snake. My sweet Dan had a tiny little kids shovel.. probably because I had told them it wasn’t a very big snake. I knew, however, that it was bigger than that tiny shovel would be able to handle. I was relieved to seen another fireman come around the corner with an axe bigger than Lydia. One fireman lifted up the box while the others prepared for battle. There was an audible “OH MAN!” that escaped the parties lips once the snake was in view. Apparently, it was a big copperhead.
Now I come from out west originally and a big snake means an 8 foot rattler that could eat your grandma. This was probably 2 -2.5 feet long. Not fully grown, but big enough to make firemen squeal. They did an over-thorough job of killing it and then fought about who was going to bag it so they could bring it in with us for definite identification. I’ve since learned that this helps in knowing what sort of medicine is in order for the injured.
Evan thought the ambulance ride was amazing. “They used sirens and everything!!” I was not as thrilled about it as I watched the swelling and discoloration spreading at an alarming rate. Once at the hospital a wild game of show and tell broke out. I think we had every person in the peds ER come into the room to see the snake and the little boy who tried to catch it and the mommy who did catch it. It took a little while to figure out the right antivenom and the right dosage and then where they would get it from, but Evan was doing really well with his arm elevated and nonstop Pixar on the TV. God bless who’s ever idea that was!
Finally he started feeling some pain (Evan has the highest pain tolerance of any kid I’ve ever met) and crying after the swelling hit his elbow. So he got a nice dose of morphine. That really mellowed him out and he was floating high when the Crofab arrived and they started the meds. After that it was a waiting game. He fell asleep and we had to just watch him to see if he was still breathing and if he broke out anywhere. I guess there is a pretty high occurrence of people having allergic reactions to the antivenom itself. I was trying not to think of words like anifalactic at this point. Anyway, things went really well. We finished the dose in about 40 min I guess (you have to administer very slowly starting with a very small dose and then doubling that every three minutes) and he was still sleeping peacefully, heart and lungs just fine, hive free. So we settled in for the night to wait and watch and see.
At midnight he got up and had a bowl of cornflakes and a very funny sort of half drugged, half asleep conversation with the nurse in his new room then he crashed again, assuring us that his arm would be all better in the morning.
At 7am, on the dot, just like every other morning at our house, I woke up to “Good morning mommy! It’s morning! time to get up! Where is breakfast!?” It was a very sweet thing to hear. Plus his arm had noticeably reduced in size and he was smiling and back to his normal self.
After that we watched cartoons and ate “great food mommy! Right in my bed!!” and we played a little game and then when the doctors had taken measurements and were happy with the reduction in swelling they sent us home. Evan was not happy to be leaving his bed that went up and down. And believe me.. it went up and down for two hours straight once he discovered he could control it with his big toe. Plus he was mad that we were leaving before he got another “great meal!” in his cool moving bed. I told him we could have lunch with Daddy and the girls in the cafeteria where he could pick out his own food and he thought that was ok but wondered how they were going to get his bed down to the cafeteria. I assured him that he was quite capable of walking but he was skeptical. He did get bit by a snake you know.
We’re all at home now and he is still doing well. Swelling is continuing to go down but we don’t expect a full recovery for at least a week. There is still tissue damage to watch for and necrosis, compartment syndrome, but the worst is over. Except the bill of course. Don’t ever get bit by a pit viper… or any other kind of snake unless you have fabulous insurance. Crofab these days is running around $1-$2k a vial and Evan had to have four!!!
Thanks for all your well wishes! We’re glad to have our sweet little boy and one less snake in the yard.