Monday, November 9, 2015
Medical Travails Monday November 9
So. I got bitten once by a baby water moccasin. Wanna hear about it? Because apparently you’re gonna have to.
What, you may reasonably ask, does that question have to do with my sometimes-but-not-quite-daily blog about my cancer battle? Hang on. We’re going to get to all that.
First, my sudden compulsion to tell you about this damned snake. I’ve promised to write about just about everything as it relates to my medical journey even if I don’t always see the connection myself. But here’s the thing. Over the past few weeks—for the last several times as I’ve sat down to start this blog—I’ve developed an almost irresistible urge to bring you the story of this snake—for no apparent reason whatsoever. The compulsion is getting worse, and to make matters even more bizarre, it’s not even a new incident. This did not happen yesterday or even in this century. So I’m going to give in to it and see where it takes us. And in doing so, one of the questions I’ll ask is this: is there a medical reason why the words and phrases like the ones necessary to tell this story would suddenly pop into my mind demanding my attention, and yours? What, you didn’t know you were going to have to hear about baby cotton mouth snakes today? (Even if you close the blog now the subject has already been introduced to you and planted in your mind, so I’m afraid you’re hosed. At this point you’re doomed to either hear the full story or spend the rest of the day cussing me for having introduced the subject, or trying to ignore everything you’ve heard so far, or all of the above).
Do you think that perhaps some other kind of whacky-do thing is going on here? Are pain meds finally pushing me over the bleeding edge? Does it concern you—should it concern either of us—that for the past last several blog entries, my fingers have been demanding to talk to you about cotton mouth snakes while I valiantly held off and talked about something else, leading the blog in a different direction?
I mean, what do baby cotton mouth snakes have to do with anything, especially as it pertains to a medical blog?
No, I’m not making this up. If I were making it up I’d certainly come up with a subject a bit more bizarre and compelling, don’t you think? Such as: folks: there is a poltergeist in my house and it is telling me it won’t let me rest until I’ve told its story. Or, when I was four I saw a figure walk out on the lake that I’m now quite certain was a mermaid. You know, that sort of thing.
But none of that happened. This did happen but it’s much more mundane. No new poltergeists. No mermaids. But there was a cottonmouth.
The narrative phase from the climax of the story that wants to come out now, if I were to write it down now and give it to you, would be along the lines of, “Predictably, the baby cotton mouth promptly clamped down, whereupon I shook it off my finger back into the water.”
Okay, see, the point here is not that there was no incident involving a baby cotton mouth water snake clamping itself into my finger in desperate need of a shake-off back into murky, dishwater warm lake water. There certainly was. The incident was real and I remember it well. The point is: where does this image keep coming from that for the past several instances of wanting to sit down and write a blog, it suddenly rises to the level of seeming to be a matter so urgent that I have to let you know about it right this very moment?
This brings me back to my current medical condition as it relates to my cancer diagnosis and the effect of meds on them—my mental word patterns are starting to feel a bit weird to me now. Are they to you? As noted just now I wanted almost desperately to write about this snake incident. And oh, yes, I’m going to do it. And as I finally break down and relate the story, ask yourself these questions: Where in the world did these images suddenly come from? What made them pop into my mind? What kind of reaction do they set up in you? I mean, do you have a thing about snakes? Does any of this make you cringe? Wanna laugh? Cry? Swoon? It's part of what I've been telling you about lately, where unaccountable images fly in and out of my brain, arriving for no reason and departing the same way. And here’s another question: This event really did happen, but I have other, even better snake stories I could be telling you, such as the time a four foot cottonmouth fell into a boat with me. Why no compulsion to tell that story?
Well, here it is, the true-life account of my encounter with a baby water moccasin. It happened when I was swimming in the back yard down by the lake where I grew up. A little mini pontoon paddle wheel boat had floated up to our dock after a big summer storm. I looked down and saw a tiny snake wiggling along the deck in a pool of rainwater. I knew instantly what it was but I thought it was too small to be harmful. It was SO CUUUUUUTE, only about eight inches long, having just emerged from its mother, apparently. I was maybe 9 years old? So what do? What do you think I did? With my cousin and friend urging me not to do it, I reached down and picked it up. At which point it promptly bit me. I jerked my hand back; the snake went flying into the water, and that was the end of that encounter with that snake for all eternity. (I presume it’s dead by now. Well, I’m not doing so great myself, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call us even-steven).
Examining my hand, I could not help but notice two very tiny, very neat little rips in my skin where the fangs had gone in. That got my attention. There was no blood, however.
Now, as noted, this snake was very small, maybe five inches long, eight max. The body parts were tiny, and the relative velocity between its head and my fingertips was so fast that I assumed there was little chance that any venom had been injected, if the snake were even old enough to have yet developed venom in the first place. It struck me as a cute little feller, not a killer, so I did not report this to parental authorities. No harm, no foul, right? Plus, the thought did occur to me that I would look pretty stupid and could get into serious trouble for fooling around with a live water moccasin (a water moccasin is a pit viper kissin' cousin to a rattlesnake or copperhead) even if it was just eight inches long. In retrospect, of course what I should have done, and would I do next time, I told myself, was to do the adult thing and stay the hell away from it. Because that is what responsible people do. Lesson learned and no one needed to be the wiser.
Right. A nine year old idiotic kid is going to be a nine year old idiotic kid. That is one of the basic laws of nature. Lucky for me no venom went in and I did not get sick. I can't testify about the how the snake felt.
Why am I writing about this now? Who knows? Maybe someone out there in snake land needs to know right now that water moccasin babies emerge directly from the mother fully ready to rock and roll, and are not necessarily harmless. Consider yourself on notice. My work is done here.
What else is done here is my compulsion to bring up the subject of poisonous cotton mouth snakes. Funny how that works. We can now put this compulsion to bed.
Meanwhile, my pain meds are still having me twitch every this way and that with little myoclonic jerks and what not. So what are we left with, medically speaking?
(1) Strange scenarios that pop into and out of out of my brain that may or may not have an actual significance or connection to anything at all....
(2) Weird pains that set themselves up and then disappear.
(3) Bizarre flights of fantasy that leave me wondering if I'm going nutsy cookoo.
Today was nurse day and my nurse wants to up my pain meds at night just a little bit now, in hopes that I will not wake up in the middle of the night in pain as much as I have been over the last two weeks. That starts tonight, the belief being that if you get ahead of the pain early on, you’ll stay ahead, but if you fall behind then it’s harder to catch up. Wish me luck. Oxycontin delayed release x2 here I come.
I'd better sign off this blog entry off before it gets any more out of control. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking out for other bizarre compulsions to tell you about. Let’s hope I don’t find any! Or if I do, maybe it’ll be about something more fun, like egg-sucking hound dogs or something like that (there is such a thing in the rural south, I’m here to tell ya, although it’s been a long time since I’ve encountered one. About as long as the encounter with the baby cottonmouth!)
at 4:02 PM