So yesterday was just like any other day at work until about 9:30. That is when I got the scariest phone call I have ever received.
Long time readers know that I live in South Georgia on a small family farm. Our kids roam around and explore and can just be boys. Living where we live, we are used to snakes being around. Our kids know what to do if they see a snake and that a snake with a triangle head means its a bad one. We have educated them and I promise you, they know all the safety precautions and they know what to do if the worst happens. So back to the phone call.
I happened to be sitting down when I noticed that my mother-in-law was calling. She only calls me at work if it's an emergency. I walked out on the back porch of our office and answered the phone. Honestly, all I heard was Josh, snake bite, and what hospital they were at. I ran back in the door and grabbed my purse telling my co-workers (in an apparently very panicked voice) that I had to go because my son had been bitten by a snake. Y'all, for the life of me I could not put the code in to open the door. I was shaking so bad that I could not remember the code. The only guy in our department came up behind me and put in the code and asked me if I was sure I could drive because he would take me. I told him I was fine and just kept going. I called my husband to tell him what was going on and got in my van and started driving. While I don't recommend speeding and normally I am a speed limit on the dot person, I didn't care how fast I was going. All I knew was that I needed to get to my kid. I met my husband outside the local emergency room and they let us back to where Josh was. There was so much relief just seeing him and knowing that he was at least okay and then he told us what happened.
He and Miles were outside playing under the pecan trees in the yard. Josh reached down to pick up a stick when a copperhead bit him. He slung the snake off and he and Miles ran to the house. Miles was screaming and Josh was yelling we have to got the emergency room now and that he was bitten by a snake. She threw them in her truck and flew to the ER. They got him triaged and had each boy show them the snake on a picture board. They both described and picked out the copperhead. This is about the time we came in. They started the anti-venom and called to have him transferred to a larger hospital with the capabilities to handle a snake bite. Anti-venom runs for an hour per 4 vials. (And by the way- 1 vial apparently costs $15,000 according to the ER staff. Which is criminal! And a topic for later.) We were at the other hospital by the time the first 4 vials finished. The second ER started the next 4 vials and we now have a emergency room pediatrician and an orthopedic plus a critical care doctor following us. We are now in the ICU at a hospital in Dothan, AL while we get anti-venom until it works. We are currently at 14 vials with more scheduled because we cannot seem to get the swelling to stop. He was bitten on his middle finger on his left hand above the second knuckle. We have no idea how long we will be here and we have no idea what is actually going to happen with his hand. The hope is that the anti-venom kicks in and there is no tissue damage and we get to go home later today. The reality is that we are probably here a couple more days and there is probably at least some tissue damage.
We have no way of knowing how much venom was injected into his 11 year old body. We know that it was a young snake because of the size the boys described and the size of the bite (approxiamately 3/4 inch between puncture wounds) and young snakes tend to bite and don't let go until they are made too so they inject more venom. We are not 100% certain that it was a copperhead but we are pretty sure it was.
Y'all- my kids know all the snake rules. No touching, turn around and go the other direction slowly and calmly, and go find an adult. He was bitten anyway. The snake blended in with leaves and sticks on the ground. You never know. You can educate and you can be extra cautious but this stuff still can happen.
Josh did everything he could do when this happened. He remained calm, he told an adult and said we need to go to the emergency room, he got his little brother away from the snake as quickly as possible, and he paid enough attention to the snake to be able to describe it to the doctors. All of that came from education.
So for now, we have one child in an ICU bed and a 6 year old who had to FaceTime his brother because he is not allowed in the ICU to see him. Miles was brave and made sure his brother was okay and he knew enough about the snake to help ID it. He is scared now and worried about Josh but I am so thankful he was not bitten too. It could have been so much worse. I know that my boys will be a little more cautious when they are outside now. That is if we let them back outside after this.
It is definitely the time of year that snakes are crawling everywhere. Teach your children about snakes. At least enough to know what to do when they see one and what to do if they are bitten. I cannot tell you how important that is.