At times, I feel uncomfortable being of the Buddhist faith. Perhaps I am not as devout as my grandfather was reported to be but my family is Buddhist. I guess I feel uncomfortable because so many of you – my friends – are of the Christian faith and cherish it grandly.
Because I am Buddhist, it is difficult to fathom the importance religiously of today, Good Friday. One of my most trusted friends of old, Don, partakes in a play each Good Friday at his Catholic church of which he is a most faithful member. I feel some sadness as I am unable to grasp the deepness of his love for his God or the significance of this day.
But each Good Friday, my mind races back to the Good Friday of 1992.
My oldest daughter was home as there was no school. She was nine at that time
Playing in her bare feet, she was bitten by a rattler in the front yard of my home.
Yes, my memory is not all that accurate, Robyn, but it was late morning. I was working in Downtown LA that day when a call came into my office.
When I picked up the phone, it was her mom. You have to understand her to appreciate this but she said pretty calmly, “I think Robyn got bit on her foot by a snake.”
“Huh? Whaaat? Where? Are there puncture marks?”
“Ummm… Let me go see,” she calmly says. Yes, she did. OMG! Didn’t she check already?
After a minute, she comes back and matter-of-factly says, “Umm, yes, there’s two little holes on her toe…” It was as if she was telling me Robyn got straight A’s again. Very routine for Robyn.
“Call 911!” I said quite loudly then hung up. I ran to my boss’ office and
said yelled, “I think my daughter got bit by a rattlesnake! Bye!”
Did I mention I was the opposite of my ex-wife? I got pretty “animated”. It was different than being told she got straight A’s again.
Remembering this was before inexpensive cell phones, I raced home. It took about an hour to drive the 25 miles, even back then. When I got there, no one was there. But a neighbor told me the paramedics took her to Brea Community Hospital. “Huh? Brea Community? Where’s that?!” No Google Maps, either.
If I recall correctly, I got to the hospital about two hours after the call. Apparently, the paramedics were going to medivac her when they located this hospital with anti-venom in the neighboring county.
It was the darnedest sight. Here were these two pretty rugged-looking paramedics in Emergency, rubbing their huge hands together like if they were outside in the snow. Briefly, her mom explained yes, it was a rattler. The doctor wasn’t sure what anti-venom to administer at first but after calling a specialist in Arizona, they decided on the anti-venom. However, the anti-venom coagulates at the top of a suspension liquid in these tiny glass tubes. The paramedics were rolling these tubes in their hands to warm and melt/dissolve the anti-venom into the liquid.
My daughter, a pretty tough kid, was just laying on the gurney quite bravely. She didn’t whimper, complain or show fear. She would be that way for the rest of the night – well, except for a split second. In fact, the only time she would show emotion was when she pummeled her younger brother – frequently. He apparently deserved it.
There was cause for alarm, however. The first responders were able to locate the snake in the strawberry plants then lopped off its head with a shovel. But it was a baby rattler. For those of you who don’t know, baby rattlers are unpredictable in how much venom they would inject for a kill. Luckily, it had killed Mickey Mouse a bit earlier (or maybe it was Minnie), thereby somewhat depleting its venom supply; you could see the bulge in its body from the mouse (Yes, they put it into a glass jar to show the doctor. Yes, we kept in the freezer for awhile as a souvenir. I even took it to show my boss. Who would believe a nutsy story like this?). Plus, Robyn was a small girl. Smart, but small.
They began the drip as soon as possible… but by around 11 pm, you could clearly see the toxins marching its way up her leg, discoloring her skin as it spread. The swelling got real bad, too.
Then, the news. The nurse said if the swelling doesn’t subside by around midnight, the doctor will have to make an incision in her calf to relieve the swelling. Further, they did not know if there would be any permanent tissue or nerve damage.
Talk about feeling helpless… All we could do was wait. By this time, her skin began to turn an ugly shade of grey.
Then for the first time that day, Robyn understandably let out a tear or two.
So did I.
Fortunately, about an hour afterwards, the toxins stopped its march up her leg. The anti-venom was finally taking effect. Soon thereafter, the swelling began to subside, slowly but surely.
By late morning – and while the skin was still an ugly shade of grey – a physical therapist came in. Oddly, she was the owner of an interior decorating store at the base of our hill; she had sold us all our new furniture and interior stuff like wallpaper and window treatments five years earlier.
She had Robyn get out of bed then try to walk. Although she had a bad limp from the pain and tenderness, the therapist said there was no nerve or tissue damage to her foot or leg. Whew.
And the Game Boy?
I thought she earned it for being a tough kid so I got her one. She got pretty good at it, too.
Oh… Although Robyn’s name wasn’t mentioned, her mom told me later that she made the news on KFWB news radio.
They didn’t mention her new Game Boy, though, or how brave she was.