My Dad Got Bitten By A Rattlesnake And Almost Died, So Here Are A Bunch of Cool Snakeskin Travel Accessories For You

WARNING: GRUESOME (but fascinating) SNAKEBITE AFTERMATH PHOTO AT THE END OF THIS POST! (But also some brilliantly useful bags to buy.) You've been warned.
Publish date:
March 7, 2013
shoppables, travel bags, snakeskin

I hate snakes with a purple passion. Not only are they TOTALLY DISGUSTING, last year my dad was bitten in the calf by a 6-foot-long diamondback rattlesnake while tromping through his front yard in Texas wearing flip-flops. Afterwards, people kept asking me, “Didn’t he hear the rattle?” It’s actually sort of a fallacy that rattlesnakes make a ton of noise to warn you -- their rattle is really rather quiet.

Holy crap, I JUST NOW remembered that my dad also got his hand bitten by a southern stingray (the same type that killed the Croc Hunter) about 10 years ago when he and I went on a dive trip to Grand Cayman together! Wild animals just love to munch on him. He, of course, loves to tell these 2 stories together -- he thinks it makes him seem like a rogue character in an Indiana Jones novel. These biting incidents did not keep him from swimming with 6-foot sharks in the Galapagos Islands, either.

The pain of being bitten by a rattler is, as you can imagine, pretty intense -- my mom said that on the drive to the hospital, my dad punched the windshield over and over to keep himself from passing out. He practically crawled into the ER intake area on his hands and knees. Diamondbacks have crazy long fangs, so they can inject an insane amount of venom.

Later, when I was talking to my dad’s doctor, he casually let slip that the only reason my dad lived was because the hospital miraculously happened to have the correct anti-venom on hand that night. It had been helicoptered in weeks before for a diamondback bite victim who didn’t make it, a woman. (The mortality rate for those bitten by a diamondback is about 20%.)

Of course I don’t know who she is, but she floats into my mind sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night. My heart breaks over and over for her family’s misfortune. We were so, so, lucky. Sometimes life really is just the luck of the draw. I'll never understand it. Why do some people get dealt the worst cards?

My dad spent 7 days total in the hospital (4 of them in the ICU) and had 3 surgeries to save his foot and leg from necrosis. He then had 2 follow up plastic surgeries to graft skin from his hip onto the giant spot on his leg that was now lacking skin. (That’s what the gross-out pic is at the end of this post -- the bitten area after reconstructive surgery.)

The photos of the initial bite, with it's black, purple, orange and yellow skin being eaten away before our eyes, and the swelling of his leg to the point where it had to be slit open on the opposite side to relive pressure are legitimately too gross to share in polite circles.

My mom (who hates killing anything) offered the gardeners $1,000 if one of them could bring her the dead rattler from her yard, but they never found him. Every time I go home, I just know he’s out there looking for me, that creep.

I thought of this whole snakebite incident when I saw that my favorite travel bag company, Hudson+Bleeker, has a brand new line of snake print pieces. I own a few items from their previous collections, and I have used the hell out of them. I love an organized suitcase -- I am a die-hard carry-on suitcase gal, and it helps immensely to have proper storage for all my junk. You’d be stunned at what I can fit in my trusty roll-aboard.

I own the exact pochette bag above. It's brilliant because you can pack your makeup in it and then use it as a clutch once you reach your destination.

Hudson+Bleeker's shoe bags are my favorite item they sell. I am constantly carrying a spare pair of shoes in my handbag whenever I wear heels. (I had a pair of converse stuffed into my purse when I visited the xoJane offices last year while wearing platforms!)

My previous carrying method was to put the extra shoes in a plastic grocery sack before shoving them in my bag, because EWWWW, shoes, dirty, gross, streets, random shoe germs from my spare shoes touching my makeup and wallet. But Hudson+Bleeker makes these beautiful shoe bags, which are a far classier way to transport your shoes than a lowly grocery sack.

This is your last warning -- RIGHT NOW is the only chance you have to click off of this story and check out something light and adorbs like Tynan talking about nail polish or this cat that wears clothes. I’m about to share the aftermath of a 6-foot rattler chomping down on your outer calf.









Allow me to explain what you are looking at: the plastic surgeon took a 2x5 inch strip of flesh from my dad’s hip, ran it through a machine that perforates it, and then stretched it to fit over the roughly 4x10 inch wound area where the skin had been eaten away by snake venom.

What I don't have for you is a photo of the inside of his calf, featuring the 8 inch slit they made in his leg when the swelling from the bite got so extreme, they feared it would burst open from the pressure.

You’re welcome.

I’m on Twitter: @IveyAlison.