My office phone rings on a Wednesday afternoon and it is the camp nurse. She is calling to say that my eleven year-old son Ben, has been bitten by a snake during ‘Nature.’ She quickly goes on to tell me that the snake was a water snake and that after several phone calls she has it on good authority from the Poison Control Center that water snakes are completely harmless. I breathe a sigh of relief. Next she informs me that while Ben is not in any danger, it is recommended that he receive a tetanus booster within 24 to 48 hours. “How is Ben?” I ask. “Oh, he’s fine” replies the nurse.
I call my husband and in response to his barrage of questions, I realize that while I know all about the camp nurse’s stress level and her frustration over the speed with which she got the information she needed, I do not know when Ben was bitten, or where he was bitten, or how badly. Nice job, Mom!
So I make an appointment for Ben to receive the tetanus shot in an hour’s time and high tail it out of work. The skies are black and a strong storm is forecasted. The rain begins when I am about five miles from home and I am on a winding country road with tall, waving trees. YIKES! By the time I near home the rain is so heavy I can barely see and the radio is beep- beep- beeping with a tornado warning just seven miles from my town. I’m starting to wonder if Ben is in more danger from the snake bite or venturing out to the pediatrician’s office during a tornado warning.
I arrive home where Ben and his teenage brother are waiting and we race back out into the wind and heavy rain. Halfway to the pediatrician’s office, as the windshield wipers work overtime, I ask Ben to show me where the snake has bitten him. He looks at his left hand. He brings his hand closer to his face. “Hmm” he says, “I can’t find it.”
Once we arrive at the doctor’s office, we are immediately whisked into an exam room and the doctor comes through the door. She asks Ben the same thing I have, to show her the snake bite. Well, he still can’t seem to find it. He proceeds to tell her the WHOLE story of how he was carrying the little 7-inch snake, loosely so that he wouldn’t hurt ‘the little guy,’ and it pushed its head through his grip and turned around and bit him between his thumb and forefinger. “I saw its little mouth close over my hand and then I felt a little pinch” Ben explains. “Do baby snakes even have fangs?” he asks the doctor.
It will come as no surprise that Ben did not need to have a tetanus booster. The snake nibble didn’t warrant it.
This motherhood gig is surely never dull!