Luckily, what I thought was the ambulance driving past the private road was actually the ambulance turning onto that very same winding, bumpy dead-end road.
My BFF Jacqueline had stood at the corner of the road to make sure the EMT guys didn’t do exactly what I was dreading—miss the turn.
My other friends, Stephanie and Nihal came running ahead of the firemen to help me. They actually lifted me, and all I could think about was the large protein shake I had had for lunch, and how much less I would have weighed without it.
Jacqueline opened the gate for the firemen, they walked toward me on foot. The Fire truck would not make it down the trail. They motioned for Stephanie to put me down (thank God the guilt about the protein shake diminished).
I lay on the trail on my side. I asked Nihal and Stephanie to take my shoe off because my foot was swelling at a very rapid pace.
The firemen approached and started doing their thing, until they were bumped by the EMT guys, who would eventually be replaced by the emergency room docs, who would make way for the ICU staff. But I am getting ahead of myself.
One fireman pulled off my sock and started to ask questions that I would hear over and over for the next few days.
Well actually, I’m still hearing them.Under my right sock, on the back of my calf, were two puncture wounds dripping blood down my leg. I had not wanted to look at it. I finally got my first glimpse, it looked...so...stereotypical.
The firemen started to doodle on my leg, making marks showing the progression of swelling. At one point they actually scribbled on my skin when they ran out of ink, asking each other for a pen that worked.
The EMT ambulance drove slowly down the trail to where I lay, and the guys loaded me into the ambulance. They asked me the very same set of questions that the firemen did. They had a conversation about which hospital I should go to. They hooked me up to an IV of fluids and off we went—at a snail’s pace.
There were two things that happened during my snakebite adventure that were less than stellar.
The first was the ambulance ride.
Even I know that time is of the essence when you are dealing with a rattlesnake bite. The tissue in my foot was being destroyed before my eyes. The swelling had spread to my foot and was starting up my ankle. The EMT guys also drew lines on my leg with ball point pens, indicating how much the swelling had spread how fast.
I was still feeling the intense buzzing all over my body and now my muscles started to twitch and spasm. My stomach started to cramp. The cramping and pressure was so intense, sort of reminiscent of a large pachyderm stepping on my belly. I felt dizzy and light headed.
I kept asking the paramedics, “aren’t you going to put the sirens on?” They kept saying that they only used the siren in case of emergencies. I’M NOT KIDDING.
They just kept looking at my vitals which read: heart rate: 88, blood pressure 139/86. My normal heartbeat is between 48 and 58, and my blood pressure is on the low side, somewhere around 100/68. I don’t think they understood how different from my norm the vitals on the monitor were.
They did give me oxygen, however.
Even though my preferred Kaiser was in Santa Clara, the driver had decided to take me to Santa Theresa Kaiser hospital which was a little closer. The driver called Kaiser Santa Theresa to tell them to have the antivenin ready.
Kaiser Santa Theresa called back and said that they had lost the antivenin.
They lost it.
I’M NOT KIDDING.
This, as you might have guessed, was the second thing that happened in my rattlesnake adventure that was less than stellar.
Well, at least we were now on the way to my preferred hospital.
And, if the elephant were not stepping on my stomach, I would have stood up and used my good foot to put the pedal to the metal to get us there a little faster. I thought they were going to stop off at Starbucks for a coffee on the way.
Lord knows they could have used it.
We finally got to Kaiser Hospital Emergency where I was rushed in to a waiting treatment room. Those same questions were rattled my way by at least six more people.
They hooked me up to more fluids and they contacted the pharmacy to have the Crofab, or as I like to call it Crofabulous—Crotalidae Polyvalent Immune Fab Ovine—started.
Crofab is the antivenin stuff that saved my life.
The only problem with Crofab is that it must be mixed by hand very slowly or the proteins break apart. Actually, it has to be rocked like a little baby, very gently so it doesn’t get foamy.
So it would take another two hours before I felt it’s neutralizing effects.
(To be continued.)