Henderson Junior High student recovering from rattlesnake bite



Stephenville 8th grader Nolan Miller is going to have quite a story to tell his classmates when he returns to school next week after being bit by a huge rattlesnake on his family’s property between Stephenville and Dublin.
Wednesday afternoon the 14-year-old Henderson Junior High student was taking a nature walk and was making his way down a small dirt road. It was a beautifully warm day, and Miller was enjoying the music being piped into his ears with earbuds.


“I was walking like I do every day,” Miller said. “I turned around a corner, and the snake bit me.”
The pain of the bite caused Miller to jump back, which dislodged the tiny speakers in his ears and allowed him to hear the angry snake’s buzzing rattlers.

Miller only heard and never saw the snake that bit him, but the bite mark it left indicated it was a huge snake –in the five-foot range. A snake bite with fangs 22 millimeters apart is considered a giant snake and Miller’s bite was 31.75 mm (1.25 inches) wide.
“I was scared,” Miller said as he recalled making his way home which was about 250 yards away. Once there Miller was rushed to emergency care at Texas Health Stephenville where at first it appeared he would need to be careflighted to Cooks Children’s Hospital.


Working to stop the spread of the venom, doctors started a round of anti-venom shots while charting the swelling on Miller’s leg with a Sharpie marker and noting times along graphs on his leg.
Miller is still dealing with a good bit of pain as his left lower leg and ankle is still very swollen, and the bite mark on his leg is still seeping blood three days after being bitten.

Dr. Jeff Hutchins is a Texas Health emergency room physician, and he explained Miller’s family did the right thing in bringing Nolan immediately to the hospital.
“Seek immediate treatment for a snake bite,” Dr. Hutchins said. “That’s the best advice we have. Don’t try to treat it yourself, just go to the emergency room.”
Hutchins explained the venom of rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouth snakes are basically the same, and not all bites require anti-venom treatments. Doctors generally draw blood and keep a close watch on what is happening around a snake bite.
“We probably see 4-6 snake bites a year,” Dr. Hutchins said. “It’s good if we can get a confirmation of what kind of a snake it was, but it’s not vital to know.”
In addition to being painful and potentially deadly snake bites can cause a variety of tissue, nerve, and blood thinning problems if not carefully monitored.
Dr. Hutchins has been practicing medicine for more than 20 years and said Miller’s bite was one of if not the largest bites in width he has ever seen.
Believe it or not, that may have played in Miller’s favor as larger adult snakes can control the amount of venom they release when striking, so the snake probably didn’t deliver near the poison it was capable of releasing.
As for Miller, he’s ready to get back home and doing the things he enjoys although he plans to take his nature walks without music being piped into his ears via earbuds.

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