4987RE: [NUTS] A Geocachers Adventure (not for the faint of heart you have been warned) by TRAKD
- Jul 25, 2007
I took the liberty to keeping the GBES folks up-to-date on your adventure including reposting your email from below since they are local folk who know you. There is a thread on Groundspeak that just started today about snakes. You might want to post your email there so they can hear about snake bites first hand - What about snakes and other nasty criters? - Groundspeak Forums
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto: email@example.com ] On Behalf Of Trevor Anderson
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 6:20 AM
Subject: [NUTS] A Geocachers Adventure (not for the faint of heart you have been warned) by TRAKD
This is no Harry Potter read but my humble account without embellishment of my story. But, before my story begins I first want to thank everyone for the overwhelming outpouring of love and support. It is difficult to put into words the waves of feelings I have had over the past week and a half but I will try. A week ago Sunday my partner in crime Salmon Falls Widow (and now honest to goodness hero) and I had decided to take a six or so mile hike along Folsom Lake to snap up some caches that have been nagging us for months. We only had a few hours and it was a wonderful morning. Early on into the hike we passed one of our slithery friends with fangs along the trail but it paid us no attention other than turning its head and moving on, so we did the same. It had been a few weeks since our last encounter (about 15 in all this summer alone) with one of our friends of nature so it was a good “reminder” to be vigilant and aware of our surroundings. Anyway, fast forward to the last cache of the day. I dropped SFW off at the trail head and parked the Green Machine. The GPSr said the cache was only 390 feet up the hill and I met her ¾ up with only 100 feet to go. She chose to continue along the trail and I chose to chase the arrow and booneycrash to the treasure. Of course I got to the wonderful view and spot first. Once there I did as all cachers (should) do before searching for anything and made my presence known. I checked over the area looking low and then high and back to low again as I methodically searched where digits told me the prize was hiding. Then… Yep… you got it… BINGO! The prize was spotted. I remember reading something about a moldy log so when I opened the container knew what I was in for. The log was a bit damp and swollen inside and I pulled out my trusty extraction device. As I extracted the log it slipped and proceeded to drop between my feet. I looked down and around as I closed up my extraction device unaware that the next second and a half of my life would be so life altering.
I was a couple of three feet away from the tree as I reached down with one hand to gather the log when something shot out of the tree (about 1 ½ feet high up) like a cannon with no warning. In slow motion I recognized my hazard instantaneously and my reflexes were already kicking in moving my hand back and away… unfortunately, I am no longer that shortstop in college and my reflexes are not those of a 20 year old. This could have been a blessing or a curse and I will never know but the rattlesnake hit my hand between the thumb and forefinger in mid-air as I was reflexing my arm back. The snake sank in but did not get to clamp as the inertia of my arm swinging back flung the snake. I heard and watched in slow motion as it thwaped up against a tree behind me. I yelled a few obscenities as time resumed its normal pace… or did it? Thankfully (to be discussed later) my partner was still a hundred feet down the trail and we instantly headed back to the Green Machine. I booneycrashed straight down the hill with my survival senses kicking in knowing I was already in deep doo-doo.
See, we had been hiking six or so miles today and I am sure I was a bit dehydrated. The cache was at the top of the hill and my heart rate was already up and running when all of this happened. Plus when the snake hit my hand I saw blood spurt a couple of three times after it was flung aside. Yeah, it was an arterial stick. As my veterinarian wife would say if it were a dog or cat it would have been dead within five minutes unless treated. My own medical training and knowledge of the area knew what I needed to do.
Story note: I initially thought the snake was between 18 inches and two feet long but when I made the distance with my hands to friends and family they were quick to point out my male shortfalls in sizes. Turns out it was closer to 2 ½ to 3 feet long.
Back to booneycrashing. I lowered my arm (A KEY THING TO DO) and applied pressure above acting as a clamp to slow the venom already in my bloodstream but the systematic pulsing of the vile fluid was already being felt. I started up the Green Machine and turned the A/C all the way up and waited for my partner. She was deeply concerned and scared to drive my beast but since I was unable to do so she stepped up to the plate. I tried my best to stay calm and reassured her of my status that I would be just fine. She drove as fast as she safely could down the road with unsuspecting cars in our way. All along I tried 911 but got either no signal or “all lines are being used” notice. We stopped briefly at the Parks Kiosk but the lackadaisical actions of the attendants I knew we really only had two choices and that was to get to either a hospital or fire station. Once again knowing the area I knew that Mercy of Folsom was the BEST snake bite hospital in the area due to my past as an EMT.
You can judge my decisions to wait and get medical treatment or get to the hospital as fast as we possibly could… that is fine but it was my life on the line and I knew seconds counted here. I did the math in my head on times and knew we could make the hospital in 20 minutes or so driving safely. If we waited I would get some basic medical treatment maybe in 10 to 15 with no guarantees. I continued with 911 hopping that they would answer and we could meet an ambulance somewhere along the way… unfortunately that never happened. As the wild ride continued I reassured my hero noting details of the incident (size, times, etc) to her in case I passed out because in reality I was feeling my body systematically coming under the influence of the poison. My right hand initially felt the effects and within minutes both legs, other arm, and face were already going numb. But, I continued to reassure that I was alright… just run that last light. We pulled into the loading bay of the Mercy Folsom ER at T-plus 21 minutes (when I started the car I noted the exact time and checked again as I opened the door). Two nurses were going off break and heading in as I cried for help and promptly fell flat on my face after only a couple of steps with my body cramping from the bite. Shelly raced around the Green Machine and helped me up as a gurney was brought out. She helped me onto the gurney and the wild ride continued. I entered a small room with two or three nurses and doctors. Each one fired the exact same questions at me as I mumble answers. My lips had gone numb and speech was difficult but I was getting through. As the next hour or so went on I overhear the ER staff say I should be back up and running in a day or so once the anti-venom or crowfab was on board. How some things give you hope and push you that extra mile.
Familiar faces began to pour in with my wife Debbie showing up and best friend Brave Sir Robin as well. At one point in this ordeal with all of my family, friends, and medical professionals around I had to let loose. I had been questioned, re- questioned, poked, and prodded… I just could not take anymore. So after one more siphon of blood was drawn I popped off… “You know you doctors have stuck me more times than that #$%&@ snake did”. This seemed to lighten the tension in the air as a hearty laugh was collectively expelled. I know that if you can not laugh at adversity and challenges then half the battle is already lost. For the next trying hours and days I have many many stories of both laughter and sorrow. But, in the end I made out of ICU after 7 days and got to see my precious boys. This story ends happily. My arm still feels the effects of the bite as I type these words but I know that too will pass. I have been questioned about my ordeal and if I would cache again. Not only yes, but… HELL YES! My “Cache-Du-Jour” streak is over and as the boys have grown it was about to anyway because they are into swimming and laser-tag and there seems to not be enough hours in the day for it all. But, Geocaching is a fun outdoor activity and I am not going to let a snake bite push me back to the couch and what is the next season of drivel on TV.
I have never tried to preach… oh, I have my opinions but try to keep them to myself. However, I am going to step up on a soap box here. Please do not take this story as one of tragedy… take it for what it is worth… hopefully a compelling glimpse of time that I went through. I initially did not want to tell half assed bits and pieces because people will snap to judgment and take action without thinking. In my humble assessment with my rattlesnake encounter, it was a one in a million shot. It was the exception and not the RULE! Please, please, please should not frighten ANY ONE away from caching. Only make us ALL more vigilant and aware of our surroundings. As a cacher it is our responsibility to remember that we are in THEIR territory. Be mindful and respectful to this and hopefully you will never encounter the freak accident I did. To this day I believe I was aware of my surroundings. I did not see the snake because of how it was hidden and it never made its presence known until it uncoiled and leapt like a rocket. Will I be more cautious… of course. Was I cautious enough in this instant? In my humble opinion I think so.
Thank you all for being patient with me those who helped as messengers both suspecting and unsuspecting and respected my privacy over the past week or so. I also have a bit more peace to say before I wrap up with the serious stuff. First to Shelly. If it was not for you… From my understanding with what the doctors and nurses have now told me I would probably not be able to type these words today. Through great fear on your part you arose to the occasion and hauled my sorry ass to the ER without hesitation. Then both you and Mike sat vigil at my doorstep as I went through the pain and recovery of this ordeal. Once again for this I can never begin to repay either of you but you both will always have my deepest gratitude. To everyone else who stopped by once I was out of the woods and has sent emails, cards, well wishes and the like words fail me. In all my life I never thought that I would have touched so many who cared so much about me and my family. The words of concern and latitude have just overwhelmed me. Thank you.
Ok, now the serious stuff is over (and I will never forget)… Bring on the ribbing… I know, I deserve every bit of it. As I said before if you can not laugh at diversity and challenge then half the battle is lost. I am an easy target now…
Trevor from TRAKD
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