WaIt's not so unusual to be bitten by a snake in Arizona. But it's at least a little out of the ordinary to keep an Internet journal of your snakebite travails, especially when you refuse traditional treatment and attempt to cure yourself with prunes and meat tenderizer. Which is precisely what Yarnell resident Pat Moss did after a baby rattler glommed onto his foot last fall. After being mostly ignored during a nine-hour visit to the ER, Moss set out to heal himself, using holistic remedies and a bucket of ice. He's since published a detailed Internet journal (www. patmoss.com/snakebite/) of his successful prunes-and-ice treatment, which he hopes will inspire others to question Western medicine. And speaking of inspiration, the $1,800 bill Moss received from the ER docs has inspired him to file a complaint with the Arizona Medical Board. Who says you can't bite back?
New Times: So you have this Web site devoted entirely to what happened to you after you got bit by a snake.
Pat Moss: Yeah. Yes, I, uh, yes I do. I just wrote down everything that came into my mind every day after it happened.
NT: Do people want to read about this?
Moss: About what?
NT: What happened to you.
Moss: Oh. Well, I had just gotten back from church, and I was going to bring some religious books over to my preacher. I went outside to warm up the car, and I was barefoot. I took about three steps outside, and I felt this sting in the arch of my left foot. He was just a little baby, a little rattlesnake about this long.
NT: Yes. But why do a journal about it on the Internet?
Moss: I don't know why. I guess I thought some people might be curious. I wanted to share about the different remedies and herbs that helped me, in case someone else gets bit by a rattlesnake. It started out as an e-mail I sent to some friends, but after I had about 15 entries, I put it [on the Web site]. Now I'm hoping my life can move on from here.
NT: If I'd been bitten by a snake, I'd have taken a shovel and bashed its head in.
Moss: No. I've gotten into some Eastern philosophies over the years, and I know that whatever goes around, comes around. I think it's bad luck to smash snakes. And no matter how many snakes I kill, there's still going to be snakes. I can't kill them all.
NT: Did you think you might die from the snakebite?
Moss: I'd heard over the years that rattlesnakes were really poisonous, but I wasn't that worried. I went back outside and flipped the snake inside a trash container and took it and showed it to the preacher, and then I visited my friend, Anthony, and he sucked out the venom from my foot.
NT: You mean, he sucked the venom out and spit it onto the ground?
Moss: I guess you could do it with your mouth, but he had a snakebite kit. The kit has pretty good suction, with this thing that's like a hypodermic needle.
NT: Okay, I just have to say this: You got bit by a rattlesnake! Why didn't you go to the hospital?
Moss: Well, there's no hospital in Yarnell. There's one an hour away in Prescott, but I'd been stung by about a half-dozen scorpions before, when I was a kid, and so I wasn't that worried. So I went over to my friend's house, and he gave me an ice bath, which is what my mom used to do when I got bit by a scorpion when I was a kid. I had a lot of faith in that ice bath doing the trick.
NT: So you used ice water as a remedy for snakebite.
Moss: Well, and echinacea and some other detoxifying herbs. I couldn't keep them down, though; I was vomiting from the venom. But I guess by then the preacher had called 911, and some nurses sent an ambulance, and they came barging in and said, "We're taking you to the emergency room!"
NT: You were shanghaied to the hospital by some church people!
Moss: I said, "I don't want to go to the hospital." Because even though I could feel the venom moving up inside my body, I didn't think the hospital would have anything to control the rate at which the venom was coming up through my body.
Moss: Well, I've only ever heard of [hospitals] having antivenin, but not anything to control and flush out the venom as it moves through your body. I don't go to doctors. I don't have a lot of faith in the medical profession. Doctors are very ignorant and arrogant. One of the nurses told me, "You're right. Doctors don't have any training in snakebites. We don't get many people up here with snakebites." I think I might have died if I'd gone right to the hospital, because they don't have anything to control the amount of venom that might have gone up into my heart and lungs in the first six hours.
NT: But your friends sort of forced the issue.
Moss: The next day, yeah. It was about six in the morning and I went down [into the desert] and let the snake go, and I figured most of the venom had gone away, because I didn't feel it tingling so much. After I got back, the phone rang and it was the Poison Control Center in Phoenix. Every question the woman asked, no matter how I answered, she'd say, "That means you have to go to the hospital." I thought, "Well, what the heck, I'll go." But I was in the ER for nine hours and nobody did anything for me. They let me lie there. They took blood samples and put a drip in my arm, and that was it. I said, "I'm not gonna just lie here. I need to do some work to heal my body. I need 1000 mg of Vitamin C every hour."
NT: So you just busted out of the hospital and went home?
Moss: It was just a huge waste of my time. I needed echinacea and Vitamin C and herbs, a whole lot of other things they weren't giving me.
NT: Like meat tenderizer. I read on your Web site that part of your home remedy for snakebites involved meat tenderizer.
Moss: Oh, yeah. Meat tenderizer contains bromelain, which is made from pineapple. It's a strong protein solvent, and I've read in health magazines about people dissolving tumors with bromelain.
NT: So maybe when people are bitten by snakes, they should just skip the whole trip to the hospital thing and go buy a packet of meat tenderizer.
Moss: (Sighs.) Well, or some form of bromelain. But meat tenderizer also has sugar and salt in it, which aren't meant for snakebites. I'm no doctor, but the eight hours I spent in the hospital were a real disappointment to me. Who needs it? We don't have a health industry, we have a sickness industry. They try to treat you after you're sick, not to keep you well.
NT: Your healing regimen also included prunes and red grapes. Your journal makes a lot of jokes about the dangers of junk food and refers to most people as "perhaps half-dead already" and "pizza and greasy hamburger-eating Americans who are likely overweight, couch-potato slobs."
Moss: I bicycle up and down a 10-mile hill each day. I have tremendous circulation and aerobic oxygenation in my tissue from that. I think that's what helped move the venom and keep it from clotting my blood, not anything the hospital did for me.
NT: Which is why you're refusing to pay the $1,800 hospital bill you recently received.
Moss: They didn't do anything much for me while I was in the ER. Anyway, I understand that Medicare has paid $1,100 of it, and they want me to pay the balance.
NT: Meanwhile, you've filed a complaint with the Arizona Medical Board.
Moss: I did that just to justify my position. They put me in a lot of jeopardy by not giving me any treatment when I was in the hospital, and I might have died from the venom. I think the only way to prevent these things is to keep yourself in tremendous health, in case of an accident, so your body will have tremendous healing response.
NT: Your Web site is pretty hot stuff these days.
Moss: Well, I don't know about that. I need to pretty it up and put some more graphics on it. I've been real busy lately, but maybe I'll put some more sizzle on the Web site later.
NT: Well, you do have a nice photo of your foot on there.
Moss: I thought I should do that for documentation. (Bends over to untie his shoe.) Look here. I still have a little bit of a scar.
NT: Oh, lookit. You're taking your shoe off.
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Moss: See, down here, there's still some scarring. He hit me here, and here. I've been putting castor oil on it. I'm pretty much healed, though. I'm running about a mile a day now. I think this whole chapter of my life is behind me now.
NT: You'll have to find something else to write about.
Moss: Yes. I just hope it isn't something with fangs.