Saturday, September 12, 2009

A rattlesnake had the nerve to bite PureCajunSunshine, Part 1

Dearest Friends,

I have a recipe for Rattlesnake Gumbo, and I am not afraid to use it! Unfortunately, I missed a chance to make it because the snake that bit me on the leg got clean away before I could catch it.

All kidding aside, I am having a very rough time of it…and to make a long story short, I am trying not to lose my leg. On top of all that, I’m not sure which is worse: hospital food or snakebites.

If that wasn’t bad enough, I am unable to get online! Maybe it’s just as well…my morphine-fueled posts and rants may not be appropriate for the internets. Because I am not sure when I’ll be able to post again, I am typing this on a laptop computer and will burn it onto a CD to give to a friend who will cut and paste it to here. (Thank you sweetly, Billie!)

Some time ago, I wrote on my blog about herbal measures that I used with great success on a copperhead snakebite and brown recluse spider bites. I also cautioned that if professional medical care is available, to USE IT. If medical care is NOT available, or won’t be available for a while (such as in the event of a severe and prolonged disaster, or a zombie invasion, or some other crisis), then it might be helpful to know which herbs our ancestors have used for eons. Of course, in spite of the very best care that modern and ancient medicine has to offer, nothing is 100% guaranteed!

Hopefully between modern medicine and natural healing efforts, I will be back online to announce my recovery soon!

By the way, toasted garlic bread, a tossed salad and a fine red wine goes very well with Rattlesnake Gumbo.

‘til later,


Part 2, a couple of weeks later:

I am tired of being digested alive by rattlesnake venom!

What a wild ride this is…The doc says it ’taint over yet. He said I was not out of the woods, but we’re approaching a clearing…

I STILL HAVE MY LEG (so far) !!!!!

I have been so exhausted that a few times I came here and also to a few of my favorite forums to thank all y’all for your kindnesses and welcome smiles and laugh-out-loud funnies…but I couldn’t sit long enough and think clearly enough to post, until now.

My leg is still horribly swollen and sitting in front of puter makes it scream…

Rattlesnakes are such bad juju that here it is two weeks later, and it still feels like I am being bitten over and over again… and there’s the weird sensation of a snake writhing around inside my leg! I was told that others who have been bitten experienced similar feelings. I suppose this is the result of nerves and muscles rebelling…

I just can’t NOT write about this…Soon as I can, I will post more about it on my blog, with a view to surviving rattlesnake bites, especially in austere situations...complete with pictures for Pablo. (Warning…not for the fainthearted or those with snake phobias.)

I've been in and out of the ER, and in the hospital bed five times, and spent most of the rest of the time at a friend's (with no internet) and now recently back home.

Yes, I am battling compartment syndrome, and I am worried sick, cause the pressure has not eased up very much for two weeks. I still have circulation in my toes...HOW DO I RELIEVE THIS AWFUL PRESSURE (without surgery?).

They are hesitating to do the surgery because of several reasons...don't have the stamina to explain it right now. My leg looks like a train wreck and now I'm getting some raised red whelps that are painful...I caught some term, vascularization...something or another...doc flew off before I could ask what that was about.. Also, how long can a leg be under this amount of pressure and horrific bruising....?

I am praying that infection (gangrene, etc.) stays out of the picture, as well.

Thank all ya’ and friends in the cyberworld and in the meatworld for your kindnesses and good wishes. There’s something so very therapeutic about friends rallying ‘round…

‘til later,


Part 3:

I'm 'bout ready to haul off and hunt that snake down right now.  Today is the 20th day since it bit my leg and it feels like it's been forever…

If'n I can whine, I must be getting better, right? In many ways yes, and some ways no.

Sitting at the computer is agony, still. (It will take more than a few tries to complete this post.)

To make a long story snakebite recovery was clouded by the lack of antivenin treatment.

Snake antivenin is not given to persons who have had reactions to anti-tetanus and anti-rabies treatment, unless cardiac or respiratory arrest is in the picture. Otherwise, the consequences of deadly reactions to the snake antivenin serum are too great, even with the best measures taken to correct them.

I was not given antivenin treatment because of a past history of serum sickness and bad reaction to two episodes of anti-rabies treatment that I underwent three years apart, six years ago… (second go-round was a serious anti-rabies overdose situation…The docs mistakenly gave me the entire ten-shot regimen over again instead of the required two shot booster dose).  Serum Sickness City.

On the other hand as a result of not having antivenin, I experienced a rougher ride with the snakebite itself.

I've also been battling a massive bacterial infection that was introduced along with the snake's venom…This (and the effects of the venom) caused my entire leg to swell up Goodyear Blimp style…and away we went. 'round the clock IV antibiotics hardly fazed it. After two days, it finally started to show a little improvement…

I looked at my leg and tried not to throw up. That's sayin a lot for a Cajun, seeing how we're such a strong-stomached bunch, and all…How in the world can a human leg bruise and swell and stretch so much without splitting wide open?  The nurses told me of a patient they had who was bitten on the arm by a rattlesnake. His arm swelled up and finally did split…why did they hafta tell me all that?

The fevers were weird, weird, weird…waves of them left me drenched in sweat and dizzier than a fool on Bourbon Street after Mardi Gras…In between the waves, I felt so fragile that it scared me. I'm not the tough nut I thought I was.

The hemotoxic effects of the rattlesnake's venom caused my platelet count to plummet to near spontaneous hemorrhaging levels.  My veins were disintegrating with only a few rounds of IV antibiotics, morphine, etc. (I forgot the medical term for it). My arms look like they've been in a train wreck, with all the bleeding under the skin going on.

Doc told me that normal platelet levels are near 100,000, and that spontaneous hemorrhaging occurs at 10,000. Then the doc told me that my platelets were dropping, and at last count it was 18,000. (I'm happy to say that as of this writing, my platelet levels are finally back to normal.)

Then the nasty words 'compartment syndrome' were thrown around for good measure. The remedy for this condition in snakebites is primitive and brutal, and is the alternative to amputation…Unfortunately it in my situation, it would also have been extremely bloody.  On its website, the World Health Organization detailed the procedure and showed how in a case similar to mine (no antivenin, low platelet count, etc), a patient underwent the fasciotomy surgery and was given 20 units of blood to try to stem the loss…

Forget that mess. And, I'd imagine cell salvage procedures would also be a joke…

I was told to watch my toes, and if they showed signs of impeded circulation, then it was time to do an emergency fasciotomy.  It is butchery on a snakebitten leg…

For my leg, the plan is to make two great big and deep incisions, from just below my knee to my ankle. One on the inside of my calf, the other on the outside of my leg. The cuts are made deep, in order to cut through the fascia (the tough membrane that covers groups of muscles). Each group of enclosed muscle is called a compartment. When the compartment fills with blood, fluid, etc. the pressure on blood vessels and nerves can cause permanent damage. When the pressure is too great, muscle and tissue quickly begins to die and decay…Hence the emergency to cut it open in a large way.

The brutal-to-me part: These incisions are left wide open for a week or more (sometimes less), with saline dressings on top to keep things from drying out, and to encourage muscle tissue to extrude from the wound…! Later, the mess is closed with skin grafts…

Naturally, because snakebite and hospital introduced infections are common, there is a chance of muscle loss anyway.

Bottom lines: I am hopefully almost 'there' as far as winning the battle with the bacterial infection (leg is still hot and swollen, but not as much. Fevers are gone.)…and my platelet count is back to normal…but the compartment syndrome is still a worry.

I'm just glad the rattlesnake did not bite me on the face or neck…which almost happened. I was squatting down on the ground cutting the wires to strap the "No Trespassing' sign to the tree with…and stood up, and squatted back down to fool with the wires some more, and stood up again when BAM the snake bit me on the leg…

Being hard of hearing, I didn't hear the rattlesnake ‘say’ a single word with the characteristic rattling they do, and it was so well camouflaged that I didn't notice it at first…

Wow. This could have been so much worse.

I learned more than a few things from this experience. One of the best things I learned is the immense value of Echinacea, a time honored Native American snakebite herb…it is doing wonders for the pain, infection, fever and more…

I'll write more about that later here on my blog, f'sure.

Thank all y'all sweet'uns (here, there and everywhere) for your graciousness.



Anonymous said...

So sorry about your bite. Get some rest! I just wanted to let you know that I LOVE YOUR SITE! Have you actually gotten all this stuff together in a book? That would save me so much time cutting and pasting recipes!!!

Diane said...

Holler if you need anything at all, okay? Anything and I'll be there in a jiffy. I'll PM ya my number at TBM.

gunwitch said...

Hey PCS,

Read about what happened on our forum and just wanted to say "Get well soon" we miss your posts.
You WILL NOT lose your leg and if you want any help hunting the wee bugger down you know where you can come.

Hugs and thoughts

The LSG Crew

PureCajunSunshine said...

Thank all y'all for the good wishes and kindnesses. 'tis good medicine for a bad day!

Diane, check yer PMs... thank you sweetly!

GW, Thanks for the good ;) BTW, 'taint a 'wee bugger', no!

On September 12, Anonymous professed love for my site (I'm just *beaming*, thanks!), and asked if I have actually gotten all this stuff together in a book...

Well, yeah...kinda, sorta. I've been working on it for a long, long time. And speaking of's time to unload it...even if it's in bits and pieces. It'll come in the form of smaller e-books and longer articles. Some will continue to be free on my blog, and some of it will go for a small eBook charge.

Later, when I'm a little more flush with cash, I plan to self-publish hard copies of some of these eBooks...

Meanwhile, I'll be doing my best to make sure my readers feel that all my publications are worth every cent!

Descry said...

If anyone can get on the other side of this you can...You are one tuff cookie!
I love you dearly.

Karen said...

Praying for you and your leg! Get Well Soon!

flourbug said...

I just want to let everyone know has put up a PayPal donation button for Pure Cajun Sunshine, to help with the huge medical bills she has incurred as a result of her run-in with that rattlesnake. All of the money (save whatever PayPal deducts as fees) goes directly to PCS. The button is in upper right of every page - you can't miss it. Even a little will help. Thanks!

PureCajunSunshine said...

Des, Karen and Flourbug....thanks!

For the curious, is a global discussion in everything under the sun. Some of my favorite forums there include herbal and natural medicine, disaster preparation, gardening, cooking, and so much more.

I am floored how this lil' community has banded together and surprised me with this PCS-aid help me keep the medical-go-round wolves from my door.

Thank you Flourbug and gang...and thank all y'all who sent your TLC my way...