I Was Bitten by a Rattlesnake

By CourtesyMarch 2, 2021

Ann King, Fort Hunter Liggett Staff Action Control Officer, shows a photo of her swollen foot after she accidentally stepped on a baby rattlesnake in 2019. The hospital marked the foot to gauge further swelling. King was given antivenin and released the next day, but suffered nerve pain for five months afterward. She doesn't blame the snake, because was just defending itself. King showed the photo during a class she took in February 2021 on how to safely relocate rattlesnakes. She was the first one to volunteer after the instructor showed how to do it.
Ann King, Fort Hunter Liggett Staff Action Control Officer, shows a photo of her swollen foot after she accidentally stepped on a baby rattlesnake in 2019. The hospital marked the foot to gauge further swelling. King was given antivenin and released the next day, but suffered nerve pain for five months afterward. She doesn't blame the snake, because was just defending itself. King showed the photo during a class she took in February 2021 on how to safely relocate rattlesnakes. She was the first one to volunteer after the instructor showed how to do it. (Photo Credit: Cynthia McIntyre) VIEW ORIGINAL

By Ann King, Fort Hunter Liggett Staff Action Control Officer

One thing I never expected to happen was to be bitten by a rattlesnake.

It was a hot sunny day in July 2019. I got home early to begin packing for a weekend of camping, and I took off my shoes and put on flip flops. I went to our garage to get the camping gear off the shelves, and at some point I felt a tap on my foot.

Immediately, I knew I had been bitten. Not because it hurt, but because I just knew. I looked down and saw a baby rattlesnake. It was not coiled, but stretched out, about 12-14 inches long. It never even made a sound. Not that it could have, because it didn’t have any rattles.

I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t even mad at the snake. It wasn’t its fault that I stepped on it. It was just defending itself. I probably passed by it twice without it noticing me. I was definitely mad at myself because I usually wear boots, but on this day, because it was so nice out, I wore flip flops.

My husband jumped into action and dispatched the snake. I called 9-1-1 right away. I told the dispatcher that I had just been bitten by a Pacific rattler, the type of snake native to this region.

Within three minutes of getting bit, I could feel my upper lip and my tongue getting numb. I got off the phone with the dispatcher and my husband rushed me to Mee Memorial Hospital in King City. Within approximately five minutes, my foot started to itch as a reaction to the venom.

I kept my foot lower than my heart, to keep the poison from circulating faster, so I didn’t elevate my foot, which had begun to swell.

Because I called 911, they were able to contact the hospital, which was waiting for us. The medical professionals put me in a room and immediately hooked me up to an IV. By then I felt a tight squeeze around my chest. I had contractions in my upper torso, and severe itching on my foot, which had doubled in size. The nurse drew lines on my foot with a marker to gauge if the swelling increased beyond the lines, which it did not, thankfully.

Within minutes after they gave me the antivenin, the contractions went away and I started feeling much better. The photo shows the extent of the swelling at its worst. If the first dose of antivenin didn’t work, they could have given me more, but I responded quickly. The medical team seemed way more worried than I was, but as soon as the first dose went to work I knew I was going to be fine. From the time I was bitten until the time I received Benedryl and antivenin in the hospital, about 45 minutes had elapsed. They kept me overnight for observation.

Other than swelling, and pain due to nerve damage I didn’t experience any other residual symptoms, although it took five months for the nerve pain to disappear.

The cost for the treatment was more than $112, 000, but thank GOD for insurance! Don’t let the expense keep you from seeking treatment, though. If you have been bitten by a snake, even if you don’t know it was a rattler, call 911 immediately. Do not wait! And tell them, if you can, what type of snake bit you.