SARASOTA -

 

The Sarasota resident says it happened Saturday morning, when he was working to build a fence outside North Port's CoolToday Park.

“It felt like a slap on my leg," Hjertstedt said. "I was screaming, 'I got bit; I got bit!'"

He says he was quickly disoriented, and his coworker took him to an emergency room about 30 minutes away.

“I could feel it in my fingertips, my whole body was tingling and then the pain really struck in," Hjertstedt said.

The first hospital didn’t have enough antivenom, so he was transferred to Sarasota Memorial Hospital.

“We keep enough antivenom on hand to care for at least one severely envenomated patient," Sarasota Memorial Hospital Toxicology Clinical Pharmacy Specialist Jeremy Lund said.“I would say he's probably the most severely envenomated patient I’ve been able to be part of taking care of.”

Hjertstedt was bit July 13, just four days before his wife Diahanna’s due date.

“He’s never been hurt at all since we’ve been together in ten years," Diahanna said.

Luckily doctors saved Earl’s leg, but he lost a lot of the muscle.

“I have drop foot, so I’ll no longer be able to raise my foot up” 

But he feels lucky to be by Diahanna’s side as they get ready to welcome their second child into the world.

“We have a long road ahead of us, but we have him," Diahanna said.

Earl has his third surgery on Thursday.