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article imageTeen steps into rattlesnake nest while looking for phone signal

By JohnThomas Didymus     Nov 14, 2012 in Health
Jamul - Vera Oliphant, 16, from El Cajon, is recovering after she was bitten six times on the foot by a brood of rattlesnakes in rural Jamul, Calif. She walked into a rattlesnake nest while she was busy looking at her cellphone for network signal.
ABC News reports Oliphant was visiting her uncle in Jamul, San Diego County, on Oct. 27, when she climbed up a nearby hill in search of cellphone signal to contact her mother and her boyfriend.
According to Reuters, a day after she was released from hospital on Friday, she said: "I was trying to find a signal to call my mom and text my boyfriend. I didn't see them until I already stepped on their nest and I felt them biting me... I thought I heard rattles behind me so I ran away. But then I stepped into the snake nest under a pile of leaves. First the mother snake bit my right foot… the baby snakes bit me after that... My vision started to go right away. First it looked like the snakes blended into the leaves and then I started seeing black spots around the edges and I started blacking out."
Oliphant said she tried to call 911, “but I didn’t have any phone signal. So I had to run down the hill back to my uncle’s house."
A rattlesnake area warning sign spotted in the state of Washington.
A rattlesnake area warning sign spotted in the state of Washington.
She ran down the hill, hobbling as we went along with pain and numbness spreading. ABC News reports she said that as she ran along, she was feeling foggy and her eyesight and consciousness fading. She said she cannot recall fully how she got home: “I was feeling numb and paralyzed. I had black vision and I saw bubbles. It felt like needles were stabbing me… it burned so hard and it felt like a bomb just exploded in me. It’s really hard to describe... I struggled to get my key out, and I was too weak to ring the bell. I desperately tapped at the window and cried, ‘Help me,’ and that’s when my uncle took me to a hospital 15 miles away."
Her uncle drove her to Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, where she received attention that saved her life.
A testimony to the hold of the Facebook habit on today's youth comes when on the way to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Oliphant, in spite of the grave danger to her life, still managed to post to her Facebook page. She wrote: “i got bit by a rattle snake & now i,m about to go to l.C.U .. it hurts like a ___ & my leg is paralyzed ._.”
Reuters reports she said that on the way, she talked to her mom and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend told her to stay calm so the venom wouldn't spread. She said: "I told my mom and my boyfriend I love them in case I don't get to see them again."
Antivenom for rattlesnakes
Antivenom for rattlesnakes
Bart B. Van Bockstaele
According to UT San Diego, she went into anaphylactic shock twice and lost consciousness four tines during the battle to save her life. She said at a point she saw a dark tunnel, a vision often associated with near-death experiences. She said: “I thought I was going to die."
LA Times reports she spent four days in intensive care. She said: "The doctors told me I was lucky to be alive... The doctors told me that I need two to three months to completely recover from the bites. But I will feel a weird sensation when stepping on my right leg for years."
She was given 24 bottles of antivenin and remained in intensive care until she was released on Oct. 30.
According to LA Times, Dr. Jordan Cohen of Sharp Grossmont, advised: "If you get bitten by a snake, the first thing to remember, is that you have more time than you think you do."
Cohen explained that in cases of snake bite injury, many of the best-known first aid techniques are not effective. He advised victims to get to the emergency room as soon as possible and try to stay immobile. Contrary to what many believe, tourniquets and suction are not advised.
ABC News reports Oliphant’s father, David, a former occupational nurse, said he was worried about his daughter's response to treatment. He told ABC News: ”I am used to dealing with patients, but when it’s your own daughter it’s different,”
Dr. Donna Seger, Executive Director of Tennessee Poison Center, and assistant professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News, "The majority of people suffering from snake bites survive them if they’re treated on time... Sometimes it’s hard to tell how bad the bites are because 25 percent of them are dry and sometimes the snakes miss the main vein." Seger added: "Snakes in the West, including California, are usually nastier than the ones in the East and are much more toxic."
Oliphant blamed the absence of cellphone signal for her ordeal. She said there should be more cellphone towers: “I mean, there was literally no reception where I was and if I had one I would have called for help.”
She will need several more weeks to make complete recovery. She said, "I'll never go out in the desert by myself, and I'll be sure to wear boots."
She hopes to return to Chaparral High School in El Cajon, where she is a junior, next week.
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