Now, being a California girl and pretty darned used to snakes of most descriptions, I thought it was "no big deal"... especially since I hadn't heard any rattling beforehand.
So being the calm, cool and pretty much unflappable woman that I am, I simply hollered out to the guy who was running his sheep dogs next door.
"Hey Jack... I think I was just bitten by a snake. What do I do?"
HOLY MITHER OF JAYSUS! STAY RIGHT THERE AN' I'LL COME AND GET YA!. DON'T MOVE! WHERE'S THE SNAKE AT. DO YA KNOW?
OH GOD...OH GOD!
No Jack... I can't see him now, but I think he may have gone under the laundry tub. I'm not sure though. He wasn't very big ... does that matter?
OKAY, STAY STILL AN' DON'T MOVE A MUSCLE! THEY'LL ALL KILL YA - AND DEADER THAN A CARP, BESIDES!
Now because Jack was screaming, going all red in the face and running towards me as fast as his little bandy legs could carry him, I started to get a little bit worried.
Worried as in "Oh shit...I'm gonna die here. Oh shit!"
So, Jack leaped the fence in a single bound, (well not really, since he was barely taller than the fence itself, and he had gotten tangled up in the chicken wire and ended up landing face down in my chrysanthemums) and he ran to my side.
Now I had talked to Jack many, many times over the fence - but always at a distance - and in all that time, I had never realized that he barely came up to my armpits.
Or my boobs.
So Jack, after dusting himself off, rushed to my side and he proceeded to put his arms around me.... attempting to carry me to the back porch - with one leg stuck up in the air. (luckily, the affected leg)
Except that while he was busy grasping me in his arms and trying to point my right foot to the sky at the same time, his face was pressed into the side of my boob.
LIFT YOUR OTHER LEG KATIE, AND I'LL CARRY YA TO THE PORCH!
AN' CAN YOU MOVE YOUR BREAST, PLEASE? I'M HAVING TROUBLE SEEING WHERE I'M GOING HERE, FOR YUR BREAST BEING PRESSED UP TO MY FACE!
Ummm...Jack? I don't think this isn't going to work. How about if you just sort of balance me, and I just hop on over there? Or maybe you could just sort of drag me?
NO! YOU CAN'T MOVE A MUSCLE OR THE *PISON* WILL MAKE YOU DROP DEAD! HOLY MITHER OF JAYSUS! WE NEED BANDAGES!! DON'T BREATHE! THAT MAKES YUR BLOOD PUMP AROUND YUR BODY AND YOU'LL BE PISONED TO DEATH! STAND STILL AND LET ME TAKE CARE OF YA'S!
Well... Jack managed to get me to the porch, and he unceremoniously plunked me down on the wood box.
OKAY, WE NEED SHEETS NOW! WHERE ARE YUR SHEETS? DO YOU HAVE SHEETS, WOMAN?
They're in the cupboard just off the kitchen ... top shelf I think. Just grab whatever's on top.
OH NO! I CAN'T GO IN THERE! WITH YOU BEING A SINGLE LADY AND ALL, I DON'T THINK IT'S FITTIN' FOR ME - A SINGLE MAN - TO GO INTO YOUR HOUSE! THINK OF OUR REP-ATATIONS! WHAT WOULD THE NEIGHBORS THINK??
Oh for God's sake Jack... I'm sitting outside on the wood box in broad daylight and probably dying of snakebite... so if you go into my house, I'm pretty sure the neighbors won't talk too much about us having an affair.
They probably won't even worry about it unless I'm dead and you've made me get dead, so you're just being a silly!
Well, he eventually went in and got the sheets (my favorite ones too... but when you're dying, it's kind of nice to think of dying while wrapped up in your favorite robin-egg blue colored eyelet-trimmed sheets.) and he proceeded to rip it into strips, and applied a tourniquet.
He then ran back in the house, (looking over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching him enter a single ladies house, with lascivious thoughts in mind... and potentially ruining both our reputations) and he brought the phone out to me.
Now being fairly new to the country and all, I knew that you didn't call 911, but I couldn't remember what number to call.
411? 444? 999?
Oh hell, I couldn't think, and Jack was still dancing around, going redder by the minute, and telling me to stop breathing... so I just called my friend Jenny and told her I had been bitten by a snake and that I needed help.
I figured that she would just call an ambulance or the coroner or whatever you do in circumstances like this, but instead she came in her own car, and between her and Jack they tossed me head first in the front seat.
Which probably didn't do that damn tourniquet any good, and it probably dislodged the venom that was supposed to be somewhat damned up beneath the eyelet-trimmed sheet strips.
Now... Jenny drives like a bat out of hell at the best of times, and I've white-knuckled it with her many many times before, but this time, she put those race car guys on the Bonneville salt flats to shame.
All I could think about was us crashing on a curve going way over the speed limit,, and then everyone would be so busy pulling our mangled selves out of the car, that no one would even think to ask me if I was snake-bit ... probably just assuming that my right leg wrapped in strips of robins-egg blue eyelet-trimmed sheets was just a stupid Americans fashion statement.
And then I would die.
But somehow (probably due to the fact that I started reciting the Rosary, even though I'm not Catholic) we made it to the hospital, where Jenny laid on the horn and started screaming :
SNAKE BITE! WE HAVE A SNAKE BITE!
Let me tell you, those emergency room people can sure move fast when they want to, and I was in a wheelchair in about 2 seconds flat, and being run hell-for-leather through the corridors.
Unfortunately, because they had my snake-bit leg up, I got run foot-first into a wall a time or two, almost breaking the foot or leg in the process, but they eventually got me on a gurney.
I just took it uncomplainingly.... figuring that broken legs are probably preferable to dying of snake venom... so I just stoically hung in there, while clutching my imaginary Rosary beads and keeping my mouth shut.
And then the doctor came in... and this is where it gets strange.
This doctor was decidedly Indian looking, and she had the sing-song Indian accent to go with it.
All I could concentrate on was her accent, and it kept running through my head that I was listening to Apu from the Simpson's.
Now whether that was from that potential snake venom coursing through my veins, or the possible brain damage from having my foot and leg jammed repeatedly into walls, affecting my spinal cord synapse's and making my brain go all wonky, I couldn't tell you.
But this short, rotund, dark-skinned Indian woman started wringing her hands, and proceeded to tell me:
"Oh dear. I do not know anything about these bites from these snakes. We do not have snakes in my country, you see. I do not know what to do for you. You must tell me now, what you are feeling inside of you."
And I'm thinkin' :
"Well, okay honey, but you sure don't look Irish to me, and as far as I know, the only country in the world that doesn't have snakes is Ireland. And we are NOT in Ireland at this exact moment. At least I don't think so, anyway.
But maybe I'm just nuts from the snake venom coursing through my veins, and I'm actually on the Emerald Isle. But then why am I dying of snake bite, if that's true?"
Now, you would think that I would be thinking stuff like "Oh %&$#! I'm gonna die! Oh *%#@!" wouldn't you?
Or I would even be thinking:
"Well hell... if you don't know what to do for me, the least you could do is call the coroner."
But no.... I just sat there looking at her quizzically, thinking ... "but you're not IRISH, woman!
And the name Vivekanadam doesn't sound even remotely like Mary Mac Gregor or Molly McGee! Because you sure as hell sound nothing like sweet old Jack Green who has just done his level best to keep me alive, even if it was by ripping up my favorite eyelet-trimmed sheets... which are now forever ruined!
Now JACK is definitely an Irishman - and you woman, are NOT!
Thank God for some of the best nurses I've ever met in my life - that's all I can say.
Because that Indian/Irish doctor was about as worthless as tits on a bull, and twice as stubborn.
But maybe that's just my opinion.
But those highly professional and caring nurses knew exactly what to do, and they did it so well!
They swabbed my puncture wounds, to test for what type of venom it was, brought a book over to see if I could identify what type of snake might have fanged me, checked and re-checked my vitals and did everything they could to make me comfortable... as well as doing everything they did, coolly, thoroughly and professionally.
And as highly trained professionals, they didn't even comment on the fact that with the hair on my unshaven legs, finding a couple of small-ish puncture wounds, was like trying to find a needle in a furry haystack.
To my face anyway.
Eventually, we found out that it was a Tiger snake, but luckily, I hadn't been "envenomed". I just had the puncture marks.
See... it seems that Tiger snakes only rarely "envenom" people (or more likely, prey) and they only do it when they're seriously looking to eat you.
Not when they're just pissed off from being stepped on.
Which is what probably saved me from being treated me with Tiger snake antivenin.
Antivenin that the hospital probably has 44 gallon drums of, because they're just waiting for people like me to come in and be antivenined.
Or rather other people to come in .... people who may have, or probably have been "envenomed" because they looked like dinner.
Not me, who just pissed off the wrong snake by stepping on him.
And because Australia supposedly has more venomous snakes than anywhere else in the world, it seems to me that 44 gallon drums of assorted anti-venom's is probably a a darn good thing to have on hand if you're running a hospital.
Even if you don't always need to use it, it's comforting to know it's there ...even if foreign doctors have no idea of how to administer it..
But it still makes me wonder... If Australia has such a huge variety of killer snakes ... WHY does our hospital employ a doctor who claims to "come from a country where we do not have snakes" and who doesn't know how to treat snake bites?
Now... what made me tell you this story today of all days?
I was looking through a folder of photos, searching for some birthday party pics, when I ran across this:
Now I don't know if it's the exact same snake or not, but Jack took a picture of one he found at the fenceline the same day that I got bit, and he eventually moved it to the other side of the creek.
I think they're a protected species or something, and you're not allowed to kill - or harm -them... Which is probably why hospitals have 44 gallon drums of antivenin.