When I was a kid, I was sure I was going to be kidnapped- snatched away in a big windowless child-molester van one afternoon walking home from school. So frightened was I of this, some days I would run past the big open fields between school and my house (because that’s where it would happen) crying and hyperventilating. I can still feel the gravel under my maryjanes and the panic in my heart.
At Halloween, I threw a great deal of my candy away. Like the child-molester van that was going to take me, I was sure someone had dipped my Tootsie-pops in arsenic. I didn’t know what arsenic was, but I knew it was bad. Childhood desire would overcome me, and I would eat a piece of parent-inspected candy, and then I would lie in bed and wait to die.
To be fair, I wasn’t inundated with over-protective parents who frightened me- we had the normal talks about safety and strangers- but my overactive imagination filled in all the gaps, and then some. This was all me. Me and my creative, dramatic, paranoia.
Suffice it to say, no Tootsie-pops ever killed me, and no child was ever snatched from our urbane Northern California idyllic neighborhood. Time has taught me that sloughing these fears off serves me well, and I’m generally not the high-strung, frightened girl I once was. Until I am.
Enter the bat.
A friend of mine left a comment on my post about Annie and the bat, noting that rabies can be carried in saliva, and if I had touched the bat at all, I should probably consider that information. She and her family had recently gone through the series of shots for rabies exposure when they found a bat in their house.
Cue Tootsie-pop Girl. She’s still in there, waiting. Waiting to whisper how I surely must have gotten bat saliva on me in my efforts to trap the little beast, that I then must have rubbed my eye, and that I now surely HAVE RABIES and am GOING TO DIE!
Since I’m not ten anymore, I emailed two doctor friends of mine, and asked them what I should do- both agreed the risk was minimal, but I might want to consider getting checked. Oh, guys, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I took it to Facebook. As you might guess, that didn’t help. The thing about Rabies is, there are no symptoms, and when they do show up, it’s always fatal. So guess where I went Saturday afternoon on Labor Day weekend? Yep.
The ER is always a hoot, and Saturday afternoon on Labor Day weekend was an interesting parade of what looked like extras from Men in Black III. I joked with the receptionist and told him the bat story, and he soothed me by saying he would have come in too. Most PCP’s don’t carry rabies vaccines, so going to the ER was a good move. I bet he says that to all the girls.
Blood pressure was normal, temperature was normal, have a seat and wait, Ms. M. I joked with them about having rabies, and meandered over towards the hospital cafeteria. (This is the same cafeteria where I wept and vomited when I was nine months pregnant with Abby… ah, memories.) The triage nurse caught me before I left the ER and told me to stick close, as they were going to fast-track me. Woohooo!
(Next time you’re in the ER, be nice to the receptionist if at all possible. And be even nicer to the triage nurse- these two got me in and out of a hospital ER on a holiday weekend in less than two hours.)
Back in the room behind the curtain, the doctor came in and laughed at me. He actually laughed. Said the risk of the bat being rabid was less than 5%, and that the risk of transmission without a bit or scratch was also less than 3-5%. Now, I ‘m no mathematician, but those are fairly decent odds in my favor, I think. So did he. He said the shots were a series of four very painful shots to the gut, and the CDC doesn’t advice using them unless exposure is certain. He did tell me I should go down to the county and have an antibody test (same thing my doctor friend told me and didn’t even charge me) and then proceed from those results.
So Tuesday I have to head to the county health building downtown and get myself a rabies antibody test. You can imagine what fun Tootsie-pop girl is having with this little fiasco. All because of a little bat at 2 am. I think I’m ready for a boring life. Anytime now…