My parking lot coworker quit his job before The Man and I arrived to work in the mercantile. He and his lady friend Donna stopped at the mercantile a couple of times to say hello when they were passing by, and one day The Man came out of the bargain grocery store in Babylon to say he’d seen my coworker inside. I ran in to say hello, and we chatted a few minutes before I went back out into the heat. We talked on the phone a few times, and early one afternoon The Man and I stopped in for a visit at my coworker’s house on the way back up the mountain. It was good to stay in touch.
One week, The Man and I stayed on the mountain on our days off. On Monday, we thought it would be nice to pay Donna and my coworker a visit. We were at the mercantile using the internet, so I decided to call my coworker and find out what he and Donna were up to.
Donna answered my call. I said hello and identified myself. I asked her if they were up for company.
Gil’s in the hospital! she said of my coworker.
What?!?! I asked. What happened?
She said he’d been bitten by a rattlesnake while getting ready to go to a barbeque. The snake had come out from under the truck and struck Gil in the foot. She said Gil should be home from the hospital around one or two o’clock that afternoon. I know he’d love to see you, she told me.
Gil was bitten by a rattlesnake! I told The Man after I hung up with Donna. He should be home in a few hours. Do you still want to go?
We decided to go over. Donna said Gill would want to see us despite his injuries, and I knew this was sure to be a good story.
We arrived at 2pm, and Gil wasn’t home yet. He didn’t get back until nearly five o’clock. In the hours in between, we visited with Donna (and hopefully distracted her from her worries) and learned the details of the story.
It all began on Friday. Gil and Donna were preparing to go to a barbeque at a neighbor’s house, and Gill was next to his truck, either putting things in or taking things out. He was wearing sandals, and when he turned from the truck, he felt a sharp pain in his left foot. I’ve been stung! was the first thought through his mind, and he turned, looked down, and saw the snake. It was a timber rattler, and it had just struck him.
I’m not sure if their neighbor and good friend Joe randomly stopped by or if Gil called him, but Joe was pressed into service to drive Gil the 40+ miles to the nearest hospital. The emergency room may have been the destination, but the fellows never quite made it there.
Although Gil and Joe are mature men, they are also party animals. Before going to the hospital, they decided to stop at a bar where a friend was celebrating her birthday. After a few beers, Gil decided he was capable of toughing out this whole snakebite thing (and what a good story that would make!), so he told Joe just to drive him back home. Apparently, the guys decided to stop for a nightcap at the last bar before the climb up the mountain. After a shot of tequila, Gil felt his pain intensify, but for some reason I cannot begin to understand, Gil had Joe drive him up the mountain instead of back to town and medical assistance.
When Gil returned home, he found Donna incapacitated by the three vodka drinks she’d had at the barbeque. His foot continued to swell, and Donna said Gil screamed in pain all night.
Despite the increased screaming and swelling, Gil still thought he’d ride out the injury. However, when Joe dropped by to check on Gil around nine o’clock on Saturday morning, Joe was quite concerned about the size of the snake bit foot. He convinced Gil he really should get medical attention, so they headed back down the mountain to the emergency room again.
Gil was admitted to the hospital where he received antivenin and morphine (!) for the pain. He was required to stay in the hospital for observation for 24 hours after the last dose of antivenin, which meant he should have been released early Monday afternoon.
Gil and Joe were a long time coming up the mountain, but Donna and The Man and I had a nice visit while waiting for them to show. When they finally arrived, they said they’d been slowed down at the pharmacy. The prescription for the painkillers couldn’t be phoned in, so they’d had to wait for it to be filled after Gil handed the paper over to the pharmacist. Also? The guys had stopped for one more beer before they started up the mountain.
Once home, Gil filled us in on some of the pieces that had been missing from the story.
The snake, he thought, had been molting. Molting snakes are apparently blind and grumpy, and the rattler must have used its infrared senses to strike out at Gil. One fang went into Gil’s foot pretty good, but the other bounced off the boney ankle knob on the side of his foot. That fang probably didn’t release much venom into Gil’s bloodstream, which is probably why Gil got away with delaying treatment.
The good-that-came-out-of-it part of the story is that while in the hospital, Gil was diagnosed with high blood pressure and prescribed medication to control it. Maybe this whole ordeal was a blessing in disguise, Gil thought.
Gil walked into his house using crutches, but ditched them as soon as he arrived. He was hobbling around the house unaided before we left. He took off his hospital-issued sock too, and we gasped over his swollen, discolored foot and the one visible fang mark.
As I had suspected, it sure was a good story, but only because my coworker lived to tell it. If he had died, it would have been a tragedy.
Image of rattlesnake from https://classroomclipart.com/clipart/page-9/Clipart/Animals/Reptile_Clipart/Snake_Clipart.htm.