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May 1, 2020

What Do Rattlesnakes Have to do with Covid-19?

What Do Rattlesnakes Have to do with Covid-19?

What a Hissing Rattlesnake Taught Me

     “Hisssssssss!”  I look down as I’m hiking with my mom on a beautiful, hot day in the mountains of Ojai, California, and see a dark-colored, fat rattlesnake with 6 or 7 rattles lying in the grass in the middle of the trail mere inches from my foot.

      “Oh my God!  That is a huge rattlesnake!”  I think as I quickly walk by.  It was terrifying.  I have seen many rattlesnakes while hiking, but never actually almost stepped on one and had it hiss at me.  I didn’t even know they could hiss. I thought they only rattled as a warning.  I googled it as soon as I got in the car, and sure enough hissing and rattling their tails both serve as warning signals.

A moment or two after I passed the rattlesnake my two little dogs, a 6 ½ lb. Yorkie terrier mix and a 20 lb. Brussels griffon terrier mix ran by the snake.  That was equally as terrifying as almost getting bit by the snake because I was helpless to stop the little dogs.  Luckily, the snake had already started to slither in the opposite direction as the dogs ran by.

I was able to yell, “Snake!” to my mom who came up behind the dogs and she safely walked by as the snake made its way without incident into the brush on the other side of the trail.

I felt extremely paranoid and vulnerable the rest of the hike and had a hard time enjoying it because I was so preoccupied with watching out for snakes. I even yelled at my mom in exasperation, “You don’t listen!” when I felt she got too close to the side of the trail where there was tall, thick grass.  I worried snakes were hiding and just waiting for the next unsuspecting hiker to strike. That did not go over well with my mom and she gave me the silent treatment until I apologized a little while later.  I had to finally take a few breaths and realize that while I did need to look for snakes, they weren’t going to be lurking underneath every bush or patch of grass.  I just needed to be aware of the risk, but not be irrational.

It occurred to me that this incident is relatable to the current Covid-19 pandemic we are all living through.  This virus makes me feel vulnerable and scared if I let it myself dwell on it.  If I listen to science and the medical experts that give good advice on common sense preventative measures to prevent contracting or spreading the illness to other people, such as social distancing, wearing a mask and washing my hands, it quells the irrational fears that can come when uniformed.  As a registered nurse I am used to listening to science in guiding my actions.  I feel frustrated when people don’t respect social distancing and don’t listen to advise from public health professionals and not only put their own lives at risk, but other people’s lives.  Fortunately, the majority of people in this country are listening to the experts and respecting social distancing and the other recommendations.

This pandemic is demonstrating how interconnected we all are and how what we do affects everyone else.  I have confidence that we will all rise to the occasion and work together to overcome this pandemic and hopefully come out stronger and wiser.




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