Snakebit Tim

Being a lawyer is bad enough. Being a snakebit lawyer on the mends is tragic, or funny, or more, or less an interesting story of what its like to be the victim of a rattle snake bite

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

More Pictures

Poor snake bitten puppy and another picture of big foot. This one was about 1 day after the bite. I finally figured out how to upload this one from my cell phone camera. Whew.

My bitten ankle is still fat but most of the swelling and all of the pain is gone. Thank heavens, it looks like I'll be the lucky of the unlucky. Thanks to all who sent my posts, emails or called. It really means a lot to me. One person assured me that if I was a Native American, I could now become a medicine man. I suppose thats good?

This snake dancer doesn't look that happy to me. Anyway, let me answer a few questions I've been getting before I sign off for good:

1. No, I didn't kill the snake. In fact I bear no enmity at all towards the little lady. She was just doing her thing.
2. No, biting a lawyer is not necessarily lethal to the snake.
3. Yes, I will play golf again. In fact, I already have but I must admit to a little trepidation when I got near the rough.
4. Yes, the main cause of all snake bites is carelessness. So please be careful - there's lots o snakes out there and some of them are also poisonous reptiles.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Snakey Western Culture

Maybe it all started with Adam and Eve. Thrown out of the garden of eden, the evil snake is destined to forever slither on its belly. (If the Gnostics were right, though, the snake was not a seducer but in fact liberated Adam and Eve from the garden so they could become truly human.) What was St. Patrick's claim to fame ? Driving the evil snakes from Erin. If they're not evil, we tend to think of our serpentine friends as dreadful, slimy, and always dangerous.

What occurs to me, physically recovered from the rattler's attack but obviously not yet mentally or spiritually comfortable with the experience, is that snakes are not inherently evil, dreadful, or even necessarily gross. And as we discussed before, snakes alsoare not necessarily males (even though I'm always asked, "Where did he bite you? or "Did you kill him?') In some cultures, snakes can even be cool and female. Native American cultures do snake dances and other forms of snake worship. Hindu mythology includes stories about snake people, etc. that make the little fellers downright fun and friendly. Buddha learned his most important lessons from, you guessed it, the king of the snakes, the cobra. But enuf of that.

What about snakes and golf? No connection you say? boff !!! Now let's face it, golf is not a macho sport compared to football, rugby, boxing, wrestling, etc. Knickers and tea time v. blood and guts. My theory is that to turn up the testosterone, golf product producers and even golf courses appropriate the snake not unlike the new Americans rip off stereotype labels of the first Americans like redskins, braves, warriors, etc. The significant difference is for various reasons, its politically correct to misuse snakes. The leaders are Cobra and Snake Eyes, two companies with a wide range of snake inspired products but perhaps a generic golf club cover like this stupid one is more to your liking?----------------------------->

Thursday, September 14, 2006




Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Snake Stuff

September 13, 2006

Medical Update :
I'm back. On the eighth day of my new snakebit llife, I threw down my crutches. On the eleventh day, 9/11, I limped into work on sandals and lasted till lunch. Next day, sneakers till 4, and today, my Bostonians till way past closing time.
The pain is starting to itch. You know, the good itch? So, I'm not looking back. No more blogging for me. Where's my sticks?

But first, I wanted to suggest a cool holiday gift idea, but not for me.
RRrrrrattlesnake EGGsssssss !!!! I'll take mine poached, how about you? Actually, you can choose between the "sounds like a snake" variety or the "keep in cool place to prevent hatching" approach. Probably the only thing worse than gag snake products? Snake jokes.

I must admit that after three nights in the ICU, some steady discomfort, pain killer smog, a substantial hospital bill, pity from strangers, helplessly watching my family wait on me -ok, it wasn't all bad- and last, but not least, realizing I must endure the eternal ignomy being known as the shake-bit lawyer, the snakebit golfer,'re the snakebit guy, etc. I must admit that right now, I have some trouble seeing the lol humorous side of snake bite jokes like ...

Why didn't you tell him (sic) you were a lawyer, he(sic) wouldn't have bitten you ouf of professional courtesy?

or the cornball approach like :

What's the worst thing about the snake that bit you? His (sic) poisonality. (groan)

In our society, snake jokes are either real corny or male bonding opportunities. The one joke I heard most and in several variations, but always from males, will not be repeated here except to say its about two lifelong friends, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Abbott and Costello, father and son, whatever. One, the male, gets bit by a rattler you know where. The other rushes off to get medical advice. The doctor, nurse, witch doctor, ranch foreman, whatever, advises that the only hope is to use the traditional method: cut the nearby skin followed by immediate, forceful suction to extract the venom. The true friend returns and tells the snakebit friend, "Sorry pal, you're going to die."

Now for whatever reason, this joke seems to be the favorite or most common snake joke, at least in my immediate circles this year. Of course, real men prefer trouser snake jokes.

(Please don't send me any snake jokes. Ah heck, go ahead or post the answer to the following perplexing question, "What is the difference between a snake and a lawyer?)

Enuf said about snake jokes. What bothers me is that on the internet, an alarming number of folks like to post and even more like to look at gruesome snakebite victim photos. Yuk. (The same people like to watch operations on the medical channel.) Now, my working hypothesis is that most are not men. We like jokes better. If you're part of that cult, stay tuned for a few.

Snake Bite Recovery

After three nights in the hospital and one lesson from a physical therapist on the proper use of crutches, I thankfully headed home sitting sideways in the back seat of our Volvo, swollen foot perched on a pillow. The burning question at this point is how much longer before I could walk or even put my foot down without the searing pain generating from the fangsville portion of my left foot and more importantly, how long before I could golf? Yes dear, I will hit the ball straight. I will not look for my ball in dry arroyos. I will not lose my temper.)

The pulmonologist (?) in charge of the ICU estimated three to four days depending on when the swelling went down. Three to four days later, the swelling had gone down some but the pain persisted. At this point, I started searching the source of all answers to important questions,, and found the story of a similarly situated victim, Charles Clifton from Pueblo, Colorado. He quickly replied to my email and he said it would take a month. YOW ! We both marvel at how little seems to be known about rattler bites but I guess its understandable because let's face it, very few folks are actually snakebit.

The next day, I asked my doctor at a follow-up visit for his best estimate. He asked around the medical center and based on his colleague's experience with poisonous spider bites, he said, "About a month." JEEZY PETE. Well, its almost two weeks later and I'm pleased to report that its better each day. In fact, I headed back to work Monday, 11 days after the "incident".

So overall, I feel pretty unlucky to have stepped on the snake, but pretty lucky that I received quick and effective care. I think the key was getting the antivenin up and running within an hour. I understand that for up to 4 hours, antivenin is effective. After that, we're talking serious consequences, especially if the bite is to the head or hand. Check out what happened to this guy.

In a sense, thats the end of my story but since I am now truly snakebit, I have decided to expiate all remaining venom from my body by continuing these electronic ramblings for a while to talk about snakes, stupidity, and so forth. Plus, I found some cool pictures to share. So stay tuned and keep those comments coming !

Monday, September 11, 2006

Hospital Time

It could have been worse. In Florida, a snakebitten golfer was kissed on the noggin by a big ole rattler and woke up three days later in the ICU. My hospital stay was somewhat more conscious. At the emergency clinic, I luckily arrived when the shift changed. Except for Ron who had a doubly pained expression not only because I was hurt but because his current and near future golf plans had gone up in smoke, I was the only male in a room of about 13 various doctors, nurses, orderlies, candy stripers, etc. all of whom wanted to see where "he" bit me. I calmly but firmly explained it was a "she," then made up a few reasons about how I knew. (Why do I have the burden of proof here?) "Because she was mean.." by the way didn't work. I was finally saved by a gay male orderly who snuck in, looked at the wound marks, and said, "Yep, that has to be a female bite. No male would do that" then gave me a quick wink and scampered away.

At this point, I was informed that we needed to go to the main hospital in downtown Albuquerque so my condition could be monitored more closely. In other words, the Intensive Care Unit was my next stop.

Now here's where I talk about horses and sheep. Antivenin is the modern way to treat snake bites. Its produced from the blood of horsies or sheepies who have accidentally on purpose been bitten by some highly paid consultant rattlesnakes. So the heck with dogs, these are man's best friends when it comes to snake bites. The problem is that an allergic reaction from the antivenin can be worse than the bite so they have to closely monitor, i.e., take lots of blood samples and hook you up to their newest monitoring gizmos, and ask you every two minutes whether you're having trouble breathing. Meanwhile, my foot and leg is starting to swell pretty good. Stay tuned for not so gruesome pictures.

The first night was bad. Lots of pain pills, hydrocodone, but I couldn't get used to sleeping on my back with my foot up. No appetite but plenty of sympathy from the staff at Pres- they were awesome- and my loving wife and daughter, also unflaggingly supportive of the old man.

The second night was way mo betta cause I could lay on my side. Heck, I even ate some hospital food and we all know how a little of that makes you want to go home asap. At this point, I started lobbying hard to get released. Finding a doctor with a low tolerance for whining, I was allowed to leave Saturday afternoon - I was bitten Thursday afternoon. But when I put my foot down to try out the crutches they had brought me: NO WAY JOSE. As soon as my up foot went down, my scene of the crime ankle started hurting enough to make a freight train take a dirt road, to make a blind man see, to scare a bulldog off a meat wagon, etc. One more night in the hospital but at least I had snookered them into disconnecting me from the IVs, the monitors,and so forth. Next stop, la casa.

Early Treatment for a Snake Bite


When we arrived at the pro shop I got out of the golf cart and quickly realized I couldn't walk on my left foot at all. I hopped into the shop and plopped myself down on a comfy couch while two EMTs from the nearby Hyatt Tamaya were summoned. Everyone seemed clueless about what to do for a snakebite victim unless gawking counts. The EMTs agreed that icing the wound was right and told me to elevate the leg above my heart. I later learned that both suggestions are wrong. (Check out this rattlesnake cite.)

One doctor later explained the don't ice a snake bite because ice increases the chances for tissue damage. Tte wound can be elevated but should be placed below heart level to inhibit the flow of venom. The EMTs did a good job checking my vital signs and freaking me out by commenting about how high my blood pressure was. They also insisted on waiting for an ambulance because "this is serious" and they didn't want to get their employer in trouble. I joked about them putting their concern for their employer's butt ahead of their concern for me but it went right over their heads. In any event, my suggestion that I should just jump in Ron's car and get to the hospital was roundly rejected by everybody, and rightly so, because waiting for an ambulance turned out to be the right thing to do. (Whenever you're pretty close to an ambulance, wait fot it. If you're out in the boonies and get bit, its better to get to care on your own if you can.)

In my case, the fire department ambulance arrived in about ten minutes and unlike me, the EMTS, and the rest of the Twin Warrior staff, the fire department paramedics knew what to do: stabilize the wounded leg, have me hold still and take deep breaths, and offer me morphine. I did the first two but resisted the dope because the pain was not that bad, just insistent, and I had some bad trips with morphine the last time I was hospitalized. By ambulance we went to Presbyterian's emergency health care center in nearby Rio Rancho. Within an hour from the bite, I was hooked up to an IV with anti-venin, had some good pain pills in my belly, and for the first time thought maybe I wouldn't die after all.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The wind blew up the canyon on the 12th fairway of the Twin Warriors course so we bet a buck on longest drive. Ron won but only because I hit the long grass on the left edge of the fairway, just where I aimed. My hybrid caught in the grass on my second shot of the par 5 hole and I pulled it into a dry arroyo where I hoped to find my ball. As my brother says, you've got to have a lot of balls to golf the way I do.

I walked up and down the arroyo without luck and headed back to the cart for another ball. Ah heck, one more look won't hurt.....wrong. When I stepped back into the shaded sand, a lightening bolt of pain struck my left ankle. Glancing down as I jumped straight up about 3 feet, I saw her coiling and recoiling then I heard the proof, the distinct "Don't f with me" sound of the rattler rattling... oh my goodness, lets talk about pain, panic, self-recrimination, pain, and doing a not so rhythmic one footed jig.

"Calm down, get in the cart, let's go" from Professor Ron brought me back to earth. Back to the clubhouse we sped. Now here's where a little knowledge would have helped. To be a murderer, the snake venom needs an accomplice, a freaked out victim who takes the pain on a not so joyful ride to elevated heights where panic, anxiety, and irregular breathing have a multiplier effect. The trigger for the bark worse than the bite is not the searing pain which doesn't let up and seems to get worse, its the dreadful realization that she got me, she really got me good. (Now remind me to talk about why we think of snakes as males or is it just Western Society that's stuck in this anthropomorphic reverse chauvinism?)

Anyway, female rattlers are smaller than their male "counterparts." Here's what she looked like.

Snake Bitten

My two day trial had been continued and I finally had a window to get out and golf with my buddy Ron. We figured that TwinWarriors at the Santa Ana Pueblo would be deserted and we were right. What we didn't figure on was my stepping on the diamond back rattler.