Good Friday, a Rattlesnake and Game Boy

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.

My bud Don during the dedication of the new “ambo” (?) at his church. He is participating in a Good Friday play as I type.

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.


My first daughter about six hours after the anti-venom was administered, with her intensely pained left foot resting on a pillow.

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.

After the anti-venom drip is started, the waiting begins. Her mom brought along her favorite yellow blankie.

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.

I believe this was taken nearing midnight. Those faint lines going up her ankle were drawn by the nurse at certain times to mark the spread of the toxins and swelling. You can see the effects of the snake bite; it was really purple.

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.

Robyn in the morning chowing down on one of her favorite foods at that time – bacon. Mine are much better, of course, fried up perfectly.

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.

The new Game Boy… the start of endless fighting between her and her younger brother who she beat up all the time… and who now benches 400 pounds.

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.

Darned media.

38 thoughts on “Good Friday, a Rattlesnake and Game Boy”

    1. You know, my ex still lives in that house but judging by the number of red-tailed hawks flying above the remaining chaparral, I would think there are still some slinking around. We even had tarantulas walking around back then.

    1. Thank you for stopping by! She is fine, now, working as a scientist in a medical center and has a little girl herself – my first granddaughter. 🙂 Thanks for asking!

  1. I don’t think I ever knew about Robyn being bit, that’s a pretty rough thing for a young girl to go through – but then again – she’s your little girl!
    Perhaps you could teach us more about being Buddhist. Of what I know, it is a wonderful religion I’ve often meant to look into more, but never seemed to get to it. Learning is the core of understanding.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts on Robyn… ☺

      Buddhism is quite different in certain ways, I’m afraid. Its more about what impact you left on people as you leave this would, about suffering, giving. A man named Siddhartha Gautama was born about 2,600 years ago in between Nepal and India. His teachings are what Buddhists are to follow.

      There are four religious “systems” from Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. First two are from India, the other two from China. The Japanese version is a mixture of the four, although Hinduism is the only one that makes mention of worshipping a god. In addition, there is a sect of Buddhism indigenous to Japan. My family is of that sect: Jodo Shinshu.

      Unfortunately, Buddhists are not a community of believers; rather, a community of people trying to become aware of how we all interact with each other.

      Sorry for the long reply!

      1. No problem. [as a kid, Smitty used to make mom mad because he would teach me about other religions, so I could make up my own mind about staying Catholic when I turned 18] I enjoyed learning about them, unfortunately, over the years I’ve forgotten too much. Are there any special days for Buddhists?

      2. Duh time again! I now remember I wanted to reply but there was no way to do it on my Android app! And yes, there are Buddhist “holidays”; some are common but when and how they celebrate it differs upon the sect and country. Confusing…
        I am doing what Smitty did – my little girl is inquisitive but I’ve said to her to make her own mind up…

      3. All you can do is answer her questions as best you can and tell her research everything herself – Smitty was famous for this line – “Look it up!”

      4. I did read it. It was quite a different read. What is funny is even today, if I say the Pledge of Allegiance at a school event, it doesn’t bother me one bit to say “under God”, for example. Does the federal government FORCE me to say it? Nope. And I will fight to keep that right…as long as my decrepit body stays together. 🙂

  2. Poor Robyn! What a terrifying time that had to be Koji.

    Like GPCox I would love to learn more about Buddhism. Anything I have heard, I have ‘enjoyed’ and been prompted to be more thoughtful, contemplative. I would never want you to feel sad about my faith, as I would love to celebrate you and your faith when you share it with me. 🙂

    1. I don’t feel sad about your beliefs or your believing in them, Chatter Master. I just find it difficult to fully comprehend your love. That is what alienates me… It seems all of America is talking about it…but nobody mentions Buddhism in that light. 😀

  3. Oh man, thank goodness she came through that okay.

    I like to look at different religions from an aspect that Joseph Campbell talked about, the common mystical thread in all of them. Both The Buddha and Jesus were great teachers and certainly from the stories of their lives, anyone can find great lessons to appreciate without feeling sad/bad they aren’t of the same faith. I suppose the ultimate regarding love is tolerance and the fundamental question, can we agree to disagree: with respect and civility? Happy weekend to you, my friend. ❤

    1. Thank you for your thoughts about my oldest daughter. ☺

      I agree totally, Paulette. I just deplore the killing of someone just because of their belief – like what ISIS is doing. That’s deplorable… 😢

  4. That’s a very scary story! So glad all turned out well, all the way to the grandchild part. Most Christians, I think, find comfort in the New Testament God friend of love and forgiveness and acceptance, although plenty of believers forget that they are supposed to be all about that, too. Don’t Buddhists believe in those same concepts? We each believe what we want to or need to, although some of us Christians made our decision after a kick in the butt helped us see straight 🙂 . Namaste!

    1. You know, Linda, it’s kinda hard to explain. Some feel there is similarity in substance but Hinduism is the only sect that refers worshiping a god. But any belief is OK, even if without worship provided they don’t force their belief upon you – or threaten to kill you if you don’t…

  5. Oh, thank goodness someone was there to notice what it was that bit Robyn. Doesn’t seem to make any difference what religion you believe in, if any at all – love and care carried her through most of that.

  6. The excitement of raising kids, right? Once my son called me home from work because the dogs weren’t acting right…turns out they were drunk off the fermented dates in the back yard.

    It’s interesting that you seem a little envious of your friend’s Christian devotion. As a Catholic-turned-Atheist with Buddhist leanings, I don’t really ‘get’ the devotion and sense of peace some people get from their church or god. I guess I’m happy that they have something that makes them feel that way, but I cannot fathom it either. Probably why I’m an Atheist.

    1. I didn’t mean to give an impression I was envious… Its just that I hear in the news each day stuff about religion – and the extremes. I do feel there is a religious war going on (from whom ever’s position) but for reasons I cannot fully comprehend. That is all…

  7. I’m so happy this story has such a good ending, my friend. I believe there are many paths to God. The external rituals of different spiritual traditions may vary, but the common truths at the heart of all of them remain constant: love, compassion and harmony.

    1. Thank you for your thoughts, Hilary. As long as one does not FORCE upon others their beliefs, I am all for that. I take exception, however, when hatred or violence occurs on behalf of religion.

  8. Glad your daughter is fine – wow what an ordeal. I would have been the panic stricken one for sure!! How sweet that you bought your daughter a game boy – you really are an old softy!! 🙂

      1. ick! and yes thankfully it was only a nasty spring cold. you are a good man to have around, I bet you even kill bugs. :0

  9. What a story! SO glad your little girl turned out okay! I’ve never seen rattle snake bites; quite a picture! And is she CUTE!

    As for Christianity; I didn’t get it either, like I do now…and now I wish it for everyone. Sadly, it doesn’t come without doubt, which makes us seek even more…the New Testament is the gift.
    Thanks for the story, Koji! I’m SO GLAD your daughter is doing so well..and with a little girl of her own!

    1. You said it best,geez2014 faith doesn’t come without doubt and when we doubt and ask questions God answers in ways that are unimaginable. And yes Koji I would like to learn more about Buddhism. I would like to explore more what you stated, “rather, a community of people trying to become aware of how we all interact with each other.” Which is something important for all of us to be aware, but in Christianity we have that in Jesus and so much more.

    2. Thank you for stopping by, geeez. I know how busy you are – especially in your mind! All this stuff going on…right here in our own country.

      My daughter Robyn mentioned to me that I had forgotten to write that the nurses would race in when her heart monitor went bonkers… from playing Tetris. 🙂

  10. What a terrifying experience with a wonderful and happy ending! As you’ve probably deciphered from my blog, I am Christian and my beliefs are based in God, the Father, his Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. I don’t know much about Buddhism. My reference is things I’ve read and heard about the Buddhist Monks. It seems that there are some very beautiful teachings. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

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