[thechat] numbness can be a real pain

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Thu Nov 10 11:42:09 CST 2005

Our beleaguered correspondent, Joel Canfield, writes in about old guy
health stuff:

>> skin
>> shattered tooth
>> minor surgery on left hand 

Dude!  Sometimes it is sooo *worth* springing for the extended warranty!

Hey, man. I grok!  I'm out of pocket for quite a bit of medico work
myself this year: gum graft surgery (they cut some wedges from the roof
of my mouth and stitched them in around a couple of teeth), a couple of
'procedures' they had to put me under for, and a bunch of other dental
work. (I think my new dentist is auditioning for 'Pimp My Mouth'. Either
that or he's working to pay off _his_ new boat!) Anyway, I currently
have a new crown out at the shop for some custom work. (I'm not sure
exactly what they are doing. Ghost flames? Spinners? Neon tubes? <shrug
/> That's what I get for going to 'Orange County Dentists' I guess.)  I
should get it back next week I think.

>>how am i going to not play for three months? 

Ouch!!!!  Yucky!!

I feel your pain there.  A few years back I was put out of commission
for about two months.  I was volunteering down at the Cleveland zoo.  It
was 'reptile fair' week.  (An annual event where the local herp crowd
brings in their critters to show off.)  I was on cage cleaning duty.

It was _totally_ *my* fault.

I was working my way down a row of snake cages; Take the snake out.
Clean the cage. Put the snake back.  Kind of a mindless activity ... and
one I was well suited for!  ;-)

Anyway, I was almost to the end of the row when I came across a cage
with a hatchling (very young) albino California kingsnake - that the
stupid owner obviously hadn't fed all week!  Momentarily forgetting (a)
that snakes aren't very bright (so if you smell like 'food' you *are*
'food'), (b) that kingsnakes are ophiophagus (they eat other snakes),
and (c) that I hadn't washed my hands since handling the other snakes
along that row ... well, I guess you can see that I set myself up for a
bit of a problem.

Taking the little feller out he started biting the heck out of me.
"Defensive" bites ... bite, release, bite again, lather, rise, repeat,
repeat rapidly, repeat with conviction, repeat some more just for fun,
repeat, repeat, repeat. 

Noticing that something amiss, (I can be quick that way sometimes), I
immediately re-evaluated the situation and decided that perhaps this
particular cage didn't *need* cleaning quite that badly after all and
so, I tried to put him back. Didn't work. By this time his little brain
had figured out that my hands smelt like 'food', so he latched onto the
end of the ring finger on my left hand with a "food" bite.  (A "food"
bite from a nonvenomous snake is one where they don't let go.  Let me
say that again - Don't Let Go.  They bite and they hold on.  All in all
a rather stressful experience - for bitee and for biter.)  So I put my
hand, with newly 'accessorized' finger, back in the cage, closed the
door as best I could, and started trying to get the attention of another
volunteer at the other end of the auditorium ... without alarming the
public milling about throughout the room.  (Volunteers are, after all,
nothing if not expendable.)

At this point, I felt a tugging at my shirt.  I turned to see a young
boy, maybe 7 or so, who had snuck up behind me while I had been focused
elsewhere and now wanted my attention. 


"Hey mister, that snake is biting you."

;-)  I really love that moment.  It kinda defines "children" for me and
how hard they can be at times to answer. Little booger caught me
completely offguard.  I froze.  Not sure how to respond, I smiled and
retreated to DAK mode: 

"Oh no, son.  Everything is fine.  You see ... he CAN'T bite me.  That's
why I have my hand in his mouth!" 

He walked away eying me warily ... But I'm used to that.

Finally I got the attention of my fellow volunteer and he came over to
where I was.  Quickly assessing the situation he noted; "Oh. Food bite."

Thanking him for his rapid and IMO completely accurate diagnosis I then
asked if he had any suggestions for remedying the situation.  That's
when he started apologizing for not having his flask with him.  Confused
me a bit there. I noted that, as much as I would have appreciated a nip
just then, I was rather more interested in removing the snake from my
playing hand.  He noted that the flask would not have been for me - it's
just that when he works with 'biters' he keeps a flask handy. Apparently
snakes aren't much for strong drink and a few drops into their mouth can
usually convince them to release you. (I hadn't known that. But, then
again, explaining to officers that I'm only carrying the flask as a
defensive measure to ward off snake attacks hasn't proven to be very
effective either.)

Now on the plus side, snakes don't have 'differentiated' teeth. No
incisors or bicuspids for ripping and tearing.  All of their teeth are
more like pointy little ice cream cones designed for piercing and
holding.  Remarkably effective too, I might add!

On the downside, their teeth are aligned at an angle to point inwards
back towards their throat ... so if you attempt to forcibly open their
mouth when they are biting you the teeth come up at an angle and end up
ripping through your skin rather than exiting gracefully through the
initial puncture wound.  Painful too!

Not seeing a better option, we used a pocket comb and pried the little
booger off my finger - which ripped my finger up pretty good but,
fortunately, didn't cause any real damage to the snake.  

Took about two months for me to heal up well enough to play again.

>>On the other hand, I'm married to my soul mate and we have the 
>>best baby in the history of babies, and we live indoors and eat 
>>reg'lar. I'll count my blessings and have an extra pint to 
>>celebrate tonight.

There you go, laddie! Keep as cool as ya can.  It riles them to believe
that you perceive the web they weave.  Keep on thinking freely. <Ooops
sorry - Moody Blues mode inadvertantly activated />

Counting blessings is a good thing!  ;-)  You can't control what happens
to you - but you can control how you react to it!  I believe I'll raise
a glass this evening as well!

Here's hoping you feel better real soon!


[Story Postscript: After washing my hands, (some snakes possess an
anti-coagulant factor in their saliva - so it's best to wash your hands
to get the bleeding to stop), I came back to the auditorium just in time
to greet a local television news crew.  <heart skips beat /> I'm still
very grateful they didn't show up 10 minutes earlier - or ask me about
the wad of paper towels I was carrying in my left hand. In this case,
I'd much rather give them a 'boring' story about the success of the herp
fair than an 'exciting' one about minor injuries!]

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