Saturday, September 14, 2019

Small Bushmaster Bite

Someone asked about me being bitten by a bushmaster snake. It was just a baby. Still dangerous. Here's what I wrote:
Dear X: It was nothing. When I had my bar in Iquitos, Peru, people would bring in all sorts of animals and we'd buy them in exchange for a meal, then give them to a friend who would take them out into deep, non-inhabited rivers and set them free in their own environments every week or so. One time this guy came in with a small, two-foot long baby water snake he called it. It sure looked like a baby shushupe — bushmaster — to me, but I couldn't tell because he had it in a bag of water in a pail. So I took it out — I was pretty good at handling snakes, having worked with Rom Whitaker in India and watching him do it — it exposed it's fangs and I told him never to pull that nonsense on me again. Water snakes are often harmless, this was a baby monster. I put it back in the bag but he fumbled tying the bag off and the petrified snaked jumped out of the bag and onto the bar. It got past me and I realized that my baby daughter, Madeleina, was about 10 feet to my right, so I quick stepped and grabbed it before it could fall off the bar and kill her. Unfortunately, I missed the perfect catch just by the head by just half an inch, enough for it to snap into my right forefinger. I snapped it off quickly and killed it where it fell with my heel, but I knew I had a wet bite. My wife, Chepa, was called and rushed to the bar and took me to the Ana Stahl Clinic where my friend Jeremy Lenigan was volunteering. He shot me up with adrenalin, cleaned the wound, drew blood, and watched over me for hours. The venom was not injected in sufficient amounts to kill me — the bushmaster, even juveniles, can be deadly — but did get me sick for a few days. And I lost the ability to bend that forefinger for a few years. I almost have it back now, 19 years after the bite.

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