Rattlesnake Victim: "Pain Worse Than Childbirth"

The young mother rolled her baby's stroller over the snake while walking in her neighborhood

By Steven Luke and R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Aug 31, 2011  |  Updated 9:00 AM PDT
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A mother who rolled her baby's stroller over a rattlesnake is recovering from multiple bite wounds.

A mother who rolled her baby's stroller over a rattlesnake is recovering from multiple bite wounds.

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An Oceanside mother hospitalized after being bitten twice by a rattlesnake said the injury was more painful than childbirth.

Brooke O’Neill was walking with her family – her husband and their 2-month-old daughter – when she wheeled the stroller over a snake lying on the sidewalk on Saturday around 8 p.m. as the sun was setting.

She felt something bite her leg but the initial bite wasn't overly painful. She said she screamed and pushed the stroller away and that's when her husband, Brian, heard the rattling.

The family was on an evening stroll on Shadow Tree Drive, north of Oceanside Municipal Airport,
and never saw the snake.

The snake bit Brooke twice in the right ankle.

"Within minutes I felt tingling and numbness in my fingers and hands, then the leg, then it traveled up to my face" she said. "Then within ten minutes I was paralyzed from the neck down, couldn't feel anything."

Her husband initially tried to tie something around her leg and suck the venom out but a neighbor intervened and told  him to stop.

Brooke was rushed to Tri-City Medical Center after complaining of a swollen throat and eyes. She also told her husband she was beginning to feel paralyzed from her throat down.

"By the time I got to the ER I could barely breathe, my face was swelling up, my husband said my eyes were turning bloodshot and I was speaking out the side of my mouth," she said.

She was in intensive care being treated with antivenin late Monday the paper reported. When Brooke spoke with NBC 7 San Diego, she was still hospitalized but had been moved out of intensive care.

When asked to describe the pain, Brooke said she's never experienced anything like it.

"i just gave birth two months ago and this was more horrific than giving birth and they say that's the worst thing."

A teacher in Orange County, Brooke said the baby was never in danger. The infant was inside a baby carrier in the stroller. However, if she had been older with legs dangling from the stroller.

"I don't even want to think about that," Brooke O'Neill said.

Husband Brian O’Neill told the North County Times they never saw the snake until it was too late.

"We were within two to three blocks of our own house, walking up the sidewalk ---- we weren't on a dirt road or a hiking trail," he said. "You would never suspect this would ever happen."

Doctors say mortality rate of a rattlesnake bite is 5 percent with antivenin. Before that, the rate can  be as high as 30 percent.

See the interview tonight on NBC 7 San Diego News at 6 p.m.

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