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Iva Lawson

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Member Since: Jul, 2004

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Serpentine Part Two (A True Story)
By Iva Lawson
Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Recent stories by Iva Lawson
· To Hell and Back
· Serpentine Part One ( A Vignette)
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Part One of this slithery story was true , but written in short story form with names changed. Part Two actually happened as written.

            It was July 16, 2007.  Having relocated almost two years ago from my muggy Southern roots to the Washington, DC area, I was nestled into a groove as most working women tend to do.  My youngest son, age 23, had completed his degree at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and made a bee line back to North Carolina to attain his Master’s degree.  My oldest son, age 25, was working as a Counselor at a Cub Scout camp near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border over the summer before returning to Towson University for his Junior year.  The camp was deep in the woods along the shores of the Susquehanna River.

            I had been in a meeting until noon, and when I returned to my desk my cell phone indicated there was a voicemail message waiting.  “Hi, Mom.  I’ve had my first Camp injury.  Don’t worry, I’m OK, but after spending 23 years in North Carolina with mucho snakes, I had to come to Maryland to get bitten by one.  I’m fine, though.  Call me when you get this.”  Of course, I dialed him immediately.  My son is 6’ 4” and wears a size 13 shoe.  He weighs about 275.  He seemed a little tired and told me that he’d spent the night in the emergency room.  The full story he relayed later amazed me and cracked me up at the same time.  It goes something like this:


*  *  *  *  *


            Freshly showered in a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops, I realized that I’d left a load of laundry in the machine.  It was 1:00 in the morning on a Monday and I had to get up early so I didn’t bother putting my glasses on as I left go get it.  A fellow camp counselor chose to make the 200-yard walk across the compound to the laundry building.  She was chattering the entire distance. 

            About half-way there, I stepped on something that made a sound as if I’d stepped on a kitten.  I felt a scratch on my ankle and looked down saying, “Awww, poor kitty!”  I saw a snake going for a second swipe at my ankle and yelled, “NOT kitty, not kitty!”  I had firmly planted my left foot about 10 inches behind the business end of a Northern Copperhead moccasin.  With his remaining strength, he had bitten my right ankle twice.  Adrenaline rushing and hopping around with my ankle bleeding, I yelled for my walking companion to look at the snake and confirm my glasses-free identification.  She was not snake savvy in the least having grown up in Baltimore and was consumed with, “Oh my God!  Oh my God!  Chris got bit by a snake!  Oh my God!

            I continued to try and calm her as well as myself.  I insisted that she just look at it and describe it to me.  The serpent was sluggishly making his way underneath a nearby parked car.  “Well, what do poisonous snakes look like?”  I didn’t want to put any ideas into her head because I just wanted an accurate description so the ER would get the anti-venom right.  I said, “Just look at it and tell me what color it is.  Does it have any markings?”

            “Oh my God!  Oh my God!  It’s kinda pinkish-orange and has brown diamonds down his back!”  He’s getting away!  My companion was freaking out and I was hopping around on one foot trying not to panic.  My ankle hurt like hell and I grabbed my cell from my short’s pocket and called the only other person I knew was still awake and just happened to be in a nearby cabin.  I could hear him scuffling to get into his clothes and at the same time calling the camp medic.  She was a small woman who was a registered nurse and drove a very large Ford pickup with an extended cab.  A few moments later, the truck was bouncing over the hill in a cloud of dust and slid sideways to a stop near the car the snake was curled under.  It had drawn a crowd of onlookers with flashlights by this time, all speculating on what kind of snake it really was. 

            The medic examined my ankle and called the ambulance.  They carried me as best they could to an area where I could recline.  “We need to keep him from going into shock.”  At that moment, I was thinking I might already be doing that.  They put me in a chaise and elevated one foot, but not the one the snake had likely left his signature venom in.  The ambulance arrived and carted me to the not-so-nearby ER.  As it turns out, the snake did not release any venom, or at least not enough to cause alarm and my ankle was bandaged, I was given pain meds and advised to keep it elevated and iced and sent on my way. 


*  *  *  *  *


            When I saw my son two days later his right foot was extremely swollen and he was still wearing a bandage.  The bite site was slightly red, but he assured me that it was an improvement over the bologna-sized, sausage-like protrusion that was masquerading as his foot just a couple of days ago.  We elevated it and iced it at every opportunity and he walked with a slight limp for a couple more days.

            It has been two weeks since the incident, the swelling has gone completely down and the bite marks have disappeared.  He no longer wears a bandage, but complains that he has some tenderness in the area of his Achilles tendon.  We will pay another visit to the doctor about that in the next day or so.  Apparently the snake was more concerned with getting my sizeable son off his back than he was with injecting venom.  Or, perhaps the ankle was too bony for the creature to get enough traction to release the venom.  Maybe it was a matter of catching the snake by surprise and the venom didn’t have a chance to manifest.  Whatever the case, my son said, “Mom, I’m just glad it was big ol’ me and not one of the little kids.”  Personally, I think the snake may be in worse condition than my son.  The darn thing actually cried out.  I suppose if a 275 pound man with a size 13 foot stepped on me, I’d cry out, too.  I just never knew snakes had voices.  If it survived, it will likely slither with a limp.


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