A contestant in the Mrs. America pageant plans to continue despite suffering a venomous rattlesnake bite.
Christina Ryan, who is representing Tennessee in the event being held at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, was heading down a staircase to a rehearsal Sunday about 9 a.m. when she saw a spider in her path.
Having been bitten by a venomous brown recluse spider as a child, she knew to avoid the creature.
While avoiding the spider, she unknowingly stepped near a rattlesnake that bit her on the foot, she said.
“I startled it doing my little spider dance, and he bit me,” she said. “As soon as it bit me I knew it was a rattlesnake.”
The snake, 8 to 10 inches long, left a fang stuck in her foot above her toe.
She was taken to Tucson Medical Center where she received 10 vials of antivenin – produced in Tennessee, she noted – and spent the night in the intensive care unit.
“The pain was the worst pain I have ever had, worse than childbirth. It was horrifically bad,” she said. “It was like someone stabbed a knife in my foot, and kept stabbing it in over and over again.”
The poison progressed to her ankle before the antivenin took effect, she said.
Ryan, an event planner from Franklin, Tenn., was released from the hospital Monday.
“I had an amazing recovery,” she said. “Most people with bites are in the hospital several days.”
Mrs. America event interviews are slated for Saturday, with preliminary competition Sunday and the finals Sept. 5.
Ryan has remained upbeat, resting her foot and preparing for the pageant. She is eager to represent Tennessee in the contest.
“I’m trying to get ready to walk in heels on Sunday without limping,” she said. “I can now add fear of snakes to fear of spiders.”