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Son's snake bite serves as lesson and reminder

Son's snake bite a lesson, reminder

Our son Jacob was bitten by a pygmy rattlesnake. Given that we live in the midst of the Brooker Creek Preserve, surrounded by beauty and wildlife, this could have happened just about anywhere to just about everyone, which is why I think it is important that we share his story.

Jacob was running through a yard with flip-flops on. He suddenly felt what he described as a sharp scratch. He continued to run about 10 feet and then fell to the ground in pain. He was brought home immediately.

At the time, it was thought he'd been cut by a branch, but there were reportedly snakes in the area. Based on the amount of pain he was in, I called 911 and advised that I thought my son had been bitten by a snake. The paramedics observed Jacob for five minutes before the swelling revealed the puncture wounds. He had been struck three times in the moment it took him to run over this snake that no one ever saw. Based on the distance between the teeth marks and the reaction to the venom, the verdict was that he was bitten by a pygmy rattler.

Initially, Jacob was taken to Mease Hospital. We assumed he would immediately be given antivenin, but apparently there can be side effects to this treatment and they use it with great caution, particularly in children. He was treated for his pain with morphine, and we waited and watched to see how far up his leg the venom would progress.

Jacob was then transferred and admitted to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where the vigil continued. Interestingly, everything is coordinated through the state's Poison Control Center, located in Tampa. They dictate the treatment for this type of case regardless of where you are treated, and they followed Jacob's case from Mease to All Children's.

On Day 2, the poison had spread from ankle to knee, and it was time to administer the antivenin, a drug called Crofab. Jacob received a large initial dose, followed by some maintenance doses, along with antibiotics. He also had his blood drawn at least half a dozen times to make sure the venom wasn't adversely affecting his blood system.

On the fourth day, we got the good word that the swelling had sufficiently receded and his lab work was good — he could go home! He still had some pain in his foot and would use crutches for about a week, but he was happy to be home.

What we learned is this: Save the flip-flops for the beach! When playing outside — or taking out the trash, for that matter — shoes are required footwear from now on. Also, watch for any area in the yard with holes in the ground dug by armadillos, which is where this rattler was hiding.

What we had forgotten is what a great neighborhood we live in. The outpouring of support for Jacob was overwhelming. Thank you to our neighbors, friends and the Brooker Creek Elementary School community for the phone calls, drop-bys, cards, offers to help, etc. We tend to get so caught up in our lives that sometimes we forget how lucky we are to live in the Woodfield community!

Wally Gehlsen, Tarpon Springs

Re: Public can have say on future of mass transit editorial, Nov. 12

Suburban living isn't sustainable

I agree with the editorial that we cannot afford the costs or the congestion associated with building more highways.

What we need is more prudent city planning that ensures that there is enough land within our communities designated for industrial (green tech) or commercial businesses — businesses that provide first-class jobs with decent wages to allow one to support a family.

The American suburban way of life is not sustainable. Parents should not have to waste valuable time commuting when they could be spending more time with their children. Plus, less greenhouse gases are being emitted when people travel shorter distances to work.

Who benefits most from workers being bused or railed to work? Businesses provide cities with valuable tax revenue and require fewer services than residents. So let's bring businesses here, not residents there.

Mary Skinner Narine, Dunedin

Re: Cleaning crew gets complaints, quits | story, Nov. 11

Write-off shows system is flawed

At the last Dunedin City Commission meeting, City Attorney John Hubbard suggested not pursuing legal action against the maintenance company that walked out on its contract with the city. His reasons were as follows:

1. The company probably has no reserves or assets.

2. The company is a "fly by night."

3. Cost to recover would be more than what's owed.

Doesn't this bring up the original method of choosing the best firm to do the job? Were a background check and a financial statement not required? Were references not checked?

Citizen's tax money is too important to be taken so lightly.

The city must review its contract methods and "Requests for Quotations." It appears the only criteria was, "How cheaply can we buy this service?"

The city needs to recover the monies owed. The city should not send out the message that Dunedin will not pursue contractors for defaulting on their contract.

Bill Coleman, Dunedin

Son's snake bite serves as lesson and reminder 11/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:52am]
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