Shock therapy

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

Dear Editor:

I am writing with reference to a letter written by Carl Schneider of Stratton on the "opinion" page of the Gazette dated July 8, 2003. OUTDOOR LIFE magazine reported on this kind of electric shock treatments for snakebites in the mid 1980's. However since then the AMA and other medical groups have done some testing and they are convinced that this type of treatment for venomous snake and/or spider bites simply does not work and that the treatment does more harm than good. Therefore, for your entertainment or consideration, I offer the following: First of all, let me assure you that I am not making any recommendations nor am I encouraging anyone to experiment with the following treatment. I am only reporting what happened to us.

A few months ago, Ellen (my wife) was bitten by a small insect - or spider. The bite was indicated by a burning sensation more than the typical itch. She thought she saw something scurry away, but was unable to identify it. The next day, she was still burning and itching and the bite was surrounded by a large red area nearly the size of a 50 cent piece. In the center of this area, a hole was forming - already nearly large enough to hold a BB. From information we could find on the Internet, these symptoms indicated a possible recluse spider bite, for which there is apparently no antidote.

Some years ago we read in an outdoor magazine of an electrical spark treatment for "bites" that was highly effective on some snake and spider bites. We decided to try this experimental treatment. First, we connected an insulated wire to the spark plug wire of a 4-wheeler, leaving the other end of wire exposed. Then, I ran the starter on the 4-wheeler, and holding the wire in the other hand, moved the exposed end of the wire around over the inflamed area, allowing the spark to jump about one inch. Since the critter that bit her had injected some form of anesthetic, Ellen suffered very little discomfort during the treatment.

Six hours later, the hole had completely scabbed over and the redness was starting to recede. A few days later she was fully recovered. Was this healing a result of the treatment, or simply a coincidence ? I do not know. Stan Garretson


Editor's note: In case of a either a snake bite or spider bite, it is recommended that the site be washed with soap and water and the affected area be immobilized and kept lower than the heart. Medical attention should be sought as quickly as possible.

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