Gearing up for warmer weather, snake season in the Panhandle

As the sun and warmer weather start showing up a little more, so will the snakes.Rattlesnakes are the main kind of poisonous snakes in the area, and they are all around the Panhandle region. When a rattlesnake bites its victim, the toxin begins to make its way through the body and can cause serious harm, sometimes being fatal. The location that was bit begins to swell and can cut off circulation to the injured area. The most important thing is to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Nobody knows this more than a Gruver, Texas resident Christy Hart. Hart was checking the wheat field with her husband one summer evening on June 7, 2009 next to their Hansford County farm home. "We were out checking wheat and we drove into the field and when I got out, I had a weedy patch that I was going to have to walk through," said Hart.She picked up a dead weed to try to see if she could scare any snakes out of it, but got no movement so decided to take the leap over the row of weeds. As her foot hit the ground, a small rattlesnake struck her twice right above the ankle with no warning rattle. Hart said the snake rattled as it bit her, instead of prior to the strike."We decided to just go to the hospital, and I called 911 as he drove me," Hart said. She was taken 15 miles to the Hansford County Hospital in Spearman and was given an IV with demerol in it to begin with, and they began to clean it as soon as the demerol took effect. Hart was given somewhere between 18-20 viles of anti-venom at $3,000 a vile. The hospital staff marked the rise of the venom each day as it went up her leg during her hospital stay from Sunday afternoon until Thursday evening.Hart says that getting to the hospital that quickly, and the fact that the hospital knew what to do definitely saved her leg. Hart and her husband just happened to have come from a day of golfing when they checked the wheat field, so she was wearing golf shorts, which she admits not to be the wisest choice of wardrobe to wear in a field. Since her bite, she has learned some expert advice from doctors about what to do and what not to do if this ever occurs again, and wants to make sure others know this information as well."Do not elevate the bite, don't put anything on it, don't touch the blood, don't try to suck the venom out (contrary to popular belief), call 911, and get to the hospital ASAP," Hart said. Her pain level was at a maximum as all the side effects starting taking place, and she was also very sick and vomiting through that first evening."It was the most painful experience I've ever gone through," said Hart. Hart said her side effects from the venom included a funny taste in her mouth, nausea and vomiting, caused her blood to thin, made her extremely thirsty, caused severe swelling and permanent damage in areas where venom hit. Hart said that these days she now has eye allergies and it took her a year to get over the nausea from the venom. She got back to her favorite things to do after a few months, including golf, farming, yard work, and walking, but it was not an easy road to recovery for this active farm woman. She almost lost her leg due to the two snake bites, but is very grateful for the hospital staff knowing exactly what needed to be done and the speed at which they handled the situation. She also wants others to be aware of these dangers and to be very careful as warmer weather comes around, and grass and weeds get taller.It is always important to be aware of surroundings and to listen and look for harmful snakes as the weather warms up and they begin to venture out.