Survival: Part 1
After what seemed an eternity, the madness slowly returned to my senses as small areas in my vision came back. Even though my eyes had been open throughout the ordeal, I felt as though I had just opened them for the first time. A rush of blood to my head brought me back to full consciousness almost as abruptly as it had been taken from me. A doctor standing over me sternly admonished me to breathe, which took great effort to do. After a deep gasp of air, a wave of relief washed over me and the pain surged back into my arm. Although the pain was intense, it meant I was no longer in the dark. It wasn’t until much later that I learned what had caused my blackout and how truly close to death I had been. The rapidly progressing systemic shutdowns were signs of early stage cardiac arrest.
|The pen markings on my right hand traced the concern areas for Necrosis. This picture was taken the day before I was released, but the swelling was still visible|
The rest of the night was spent recovering in the ICU, accompanied by an astounding 10 vials of anti venom. That first night was completely sleepless, as the threat of Necrosis was constant. Throughout that entire night I thought about how my life would change if I lost my arm. The medical professionals that treated me tried to prepare me for anything, including an amputation. The damage the venom inflicted over the two and a half hours without treatment was substantial, and I was very aware of the battle I still had to fight. Had the anti venom been administered within the first hour of my admittance to the hospital, I would have required only 1 – 2 vials and my recovery would be more sure. I silently resolved that night to not allow any lasting disfigurement or even an amputation change who I was or what I loved to do. In total, I ended up spending 3 days in the Intensive Care Unit on the mend – but my recovery was nothing short of miraculous. Family and friends alike prayed for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it made all the difference. The morning of the fourth day in the ICU I was released and given a clean bill of health. Walking out of that hospital, I felt like the most fortunate man alive.
|We found the snake a week later, still stuck to the box. It was a juvenile Great Basin Rattlesnake that had become entangled on the packaging tape left exposed on the side of the box.|
My return home was very welcoming – my parents and extended family all gathered to help support me through my ordeal and they were there when I finally came home. Sitting in my living room, I looked at all those around me in a different way. Two days later, my arm was out of a sling. Seven days after I was bitten I drew my bow back for the first time. Holding at full draw, I laughed aloud in elation. It required far more effort than normal to focus on the shot and my form, but the moment my first arrow left the string and struck the target downrange, I couldn’t help but tear up. I looked down at the release in my hand that just days ago had been swollen to the point of being unusable; all of my life I had taken such simple things for granted.
One week later and 600 miles away, I stood atop a timbered ridge listening to the cool September breeze whispering through the pines. The peace that surrounded me was golden. The evening air was interrupted by the challenge of a bull elk below us in a dense stand of pines. A smile swept across my face as I turned to look at my father standing beside me. That sound embodies the very spirit of the wild that defines so much of who I am. With a nod, I slung my bow over my shoulder and turned towards the dark timber – my feet were light and my hopes high…
About the Author
I am the proud father of three fun loving kids and the husband to a beautiful wife. I was born and raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho and currently reside in Pocatello, Idaho. Throughout the year I can be found chasing mule deer and elk with a bow in the Idaho backcountry, steelhead in the mighty Salmon River, carp with a flyrod in desolate mud flats, or trout in one of the many blue ribbon fisheries surrounding my home. For me – the term “off season” is only for those that need another hobby. - Jared Grover