Wednesday, June 22, 2016


I do not like snakes, and, if I had to guess, you feel the exact same way. Snakes, however, are part of my life--we live in the woods. Generally, the woods come with all types of creepy-crawly, leggy, biting, flying, stinging, scary creatures. But on the top of the list of scary around here are the snakes. I've encountered the evil, squirmy little devils on my son's window seal, the driveway, once even in our carport by the back door. Oh, and let's not forget the Saturday morning I was on my hands and knees pulling weeds from the flower bed and a shinny green one stuck his head out of an azalea bush six inches from my face. Then, there was an encounter just last week with not one, but two snakes as my husband and I were taking an evening walk.

But thankfully, I've never had the terrible, life-threatening experience my grandmother had with a deadly copperhead snake.

(I talked briefly about her here when I shared her beauty secret.)

She was working in her flower bed on a typical sunny, summer afternoon pulling weeds without gloves. She felt a prick and assumed it was a thorn or stick or just something in the bed. Without thinking too much of it, she continued her chore. Unfortunately for her, this time when she reached down for the weeds and felt a second prick, she also saw what delivered it--a snake. Blood was flowing from the two holes, so there was no doubt what had happened.

She made her way into the kitchen and called 911. I remember her saying that in that moment, waiting on the ambulance, she felt like she was probably going to die. When my mom phoned to let me know what was going on, I remember thinking, "Surely she has not lived to celebrate her 90th birthday only to be taken down by a snake?"

You can see the bite marks in the center of her red, swelling hand. I didn't have any experience with snake bites, so my first question was, "What's up with all those black lines?"

The lines mark the spread of the poison. 9:45, 10:08, and so on. It's hard to see in the photo, but her arm turned red as the poison traveled. Before it was all said and done, the lines went all the way to her shoulder.

She spent two days in the ICU and three more days in the hospital. Poison Control worked closely with her care takers, and following their instructions, she was administered seven bags of antivenom at an average cost of $12,000 a bag. (Can you believe that?).

It took some months for her arm and hand to completely recover, but they did. I talked to her this afternoon to double check a few facts. She had been working in her yard... :-)

Celebrating her 90th birthday.

This summer she will celebrate another birthday. This time she'll be 92.

What about you? Do you have a snake tale to tell?


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