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Anna and the Snake

June 20, 2012

The text messages hit a couple of minutes apart in the wee early hours of Sunday morning.  Terrie and I had stayed up later than normal on Saturday night, so we were already a little short of sleep and trying frantically to catch up.


My iPhone stirred me to a semi-conscious state of confusion.  I remember a vague thought about finding my glasses and seeing what the commotion was all about, but better sense closed my eyelids and sent me drifting off again.


Anyone with an iPhone knows that you get two little alarms per message before it gives up on you.  This second one moved me from confusion to irritation.  This feeling was not unlike  what you get from a pesky fly.  All you know is you want it to go away, but you know it won’t until you wake yourself up, find it and kill it.  But then I remembered that you only get two little alarms.  Ahh… blissful rest was again within reach.


Two text messages?  I was now beyond irritation and well into curiosity.  I fumbled around for my glasses and phone and hit the little home button.  Two messages showed on the unlock screen: “i got bit by a snake” followed by “like a poisonous one so call if you’re awake.”  Curiosity was giving way to a frantic struggle to make sense of all of this.  Terrie was not amused by all the ruckus and rolled over to see what was going on.

“A snake ?!?” I said.


“It was from Anna.  She got…”

“Blunk-blunk-blunk blunk-blunk-ka-blunk-ka-blunk-ka”

Now I was interrupted by the Xylophone ringtone.  I will have to admit that this sent me back to a state of irritation, but just for a moment.  I recovered OK and quickly moved on to curiously alarmed.

“Hey Sweetie.  What’s going on?”

“They said I had to call you.  I got bit by a sidewinder.  But it was just a baby.”

“You what?”

Terrie now sensed something of significance and was awake. I was trying to concentrate on what Anna was telling me, but there was so much noise and talking in the background that I could not be sure of what I was hearing.

“I gotta go now.  They are gonna take me to a hospital. I will try to call you later.”  <click>

Try that in the middle of the night.  We had seen Anna off to Camp Ironwood just two weeks previously.  She was attending their six-week Leadership Live camp.  This program was part camp and part camp work.  She would be assigned to a work detail and participate as both camper and staff helper.

We were already worried about her.  Anna is one of those “size-zero” girls and has this propensity to neglect her own basic health, forgetting things like… you know… drinking water and staying hydrated.  And now here she was flying off to California to spend six weeks in the Mojave Desert.  She had her first kidney stone at age 14, and all we could picture was another kidney stone the size of Poughkeepsie.

And now here we were at 1:00 am. wondering if our little girl would survive a rattlesnake bite.  It’s times like that when you are keenly aware that you have no option but to trust the Lord.  So we prayed for her and tried to get some more sleep.  About an hour later, the phone rang as Anna arrived at the community hospital in Barstow, California where she received her first injection of anti-venom.  Then it rang again an hour or two later after she was transported by ambulance to Loma Linda University Medical Center near San Bernardino.

As it turns out, Loma Linda is world renown for its research into and treatment of envenomation trauma.  Anna was getting the best care available.  There was some possibility that she would lose some use of her thumb, but it looks like she will fully recover.

“So how did this happen?” you may wonder.  Glad you should ask.  As it turns out, Anna has this certain affinity for certain reptiles that pass certain criteria for basic cuteness.  All she has ever asked for Christmas is a gecko.  (So far, she has struck out on that count.)  She likes the little green and black snakes that occasionally show up around our yard.  She recently kept a little chameleon-like lizard in a terrarium in our upstairs hallway for a few weeks.

So when she and some friends were walking along somewhere around the camp on Saturday night and a cute little baby snake crossed their path, she just had to try to catch it.  No kidding.  Look at the picture of the baby sidewinder – the one in the heavily-gloved hand.  It’s got horns above its eyes and a diamond shaped head.  I was thinking, “For crying out loud, sweetheart.  God even made it look dangerous just to keep you away.”  As she made an attempt to catch the cute little baby snake, it tried to kill her by striking her thumb and injecting venom.

Her hand and arm swelled up and her thumb turned black.  After treating her with more anti-venom, they kept her in a small observation room just off the ER.  We were very grateful that she had been accompanied by one of the Ironwood healthcare staff named Amber.  She  looked after Anna during their entire stay of 36 to 40 hours there at Loma Linda.

The swelling finally ebbed, and her blood work returned to levels within acceptable limits, and they returned to Ironwood.  They gave her a day or two to recover and then sent her back to her duties in the kitchen.

So as they say… all’s well that end’s well.  Terrie, of course, would say that “they” have no idea of what they are talking about.  But Anna now has a new badge of courage and a great story to tell her new nephew some day.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2012 1:14 pm

    Oh my! That’s scary, but it will be a funny story one day..I am the same way – thinking all animals and reptiles are cute, despite my friends saying I’m crazy..Didn’t know there were antivenom experts in the area! There is nothing really out there in Barstow.

  2. June 20, 2012 1:16 pm

    Wow!! To courage – the ancestors would be proud of her 🙂 great story!!

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