Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Do I Have Rabies?

I often wonder how often history repeats itself and perhaps in the large scheme of things when looking back at the centuries of humanity that we could find several examples. But I am looking through a much smaller lens when I ponder this question. Does it repeat itself in our families?
Decades ago, maybe almost a 100 years ago, I had a great aunt who died of rabies. What a horrific way to go. I cannot imagine her misery. Unbeknownst to her, her pet dog whom she had for years contracted rabies, though her dog showed no signs of the disease in the beginning. Rabies is sneaky! It takes up to 10 days for the affected animal to show outward reactions. The dog must have licked her hang nail as she had no other open cuts on her body. She contracted the disease, the dog died and then she died. Anna was Great Grammie Fred's sister and they lived in Massachusetts. She was older than Grammie and this happened before Grammie Fred's husband died which was 1934. It was Great Grammie Fred who nursed Anna through her pain having to wear gloves and masks, while tending to her dear sister. There was nothing the medical community could do once she had the disease and there is nothing the medical community can do NOW once rabies has reached a certain stage IF no RIG (antibodies) has been injected within the 10 days of the rabid bite.

My Great Grandmother Gena (Anna's sister) and my Grandmother Gertrude

Last Monday night a week ago I was bitten by a stray cat. I was feeding her leftover grilled chicken saved from my restaurant meal. We saw her as we drove into the farm entrance. She was huddled at the side of our lane. She is tiny. She is a black calico like Callie. I made the good husband immediately stop so I could give her the chicken. Sorry doggies! I crouched down and tore off pieces, watching her gobble and stupidly held out a piece and she bit my finger. It was not a hard bite. She may have thought my finger was actual chicken! It didn't bleed much, though I squeezed immediately. It didn't really hurt. I cleaned it out, and drizzled a lot of different essential oils which are miracle workers but I will blog about them later. Never did it swell, never did it throb with pain, it healed very quickly. Go oils! Cat bites can be nasty as their mouths are supposedly extremely germy unlike dog mouths. (left: skinny Callie when she first arrived)

I called the neighbor across the road to see if he knew this cat and he did....that was a stroke of luck. Although she was not his, she did trust him once and had some kittens in his barn. I never saw her over there. He did not see her regularly and said she had been roaming around for up to 5 years! He does own a gorgeous white cat whom she is probably friends with... The good husband and I never saw her before...but she looks a lot like a tiny Callie...I gave the neighbor a cat carrier and he promised to try to catch her. Remember, she is half wild and they do not pet her.

What to do? Wait, and wait, and research, and read, and wait....no cat for 7 whole days! They did see her the next morning but I had not given them the carrier yet...I decided to get the shots. I had to with only 3 days left. I did not want history to repeat itself although our county has not seen rabies for some time according to the Health Dept. but is the system reliable? Is a farmer going to report that he just shot a rabid animal? Maybe not, especially around here. Either way, it doesn't matter, rabies is active in other counties throughout our state. It can always travel and start back up, and... Rabies can lie dormant in your body for 2 years! There was no way I could put myself through the misery of worrying and wondering. My vet warned the shots are painful and are injected into the deltoid and the butt....no more stomach shots as in the old days...Ok, fine, all women can handle pain (especially horse girls, and men are whusses anyways - did I spell that correctly?), so I called the Health Department and to make a long story short, I was on the phone for up to 4 hours trying to sort this out! Our county does not give the shots. I would have to go to the ER which is in another county. Fine, but I am not going to wait for hours just to get a shot...so I called the three local hospitals...Before I go further, in order to be protected, you have to get the bite site injected with the immediate antibodies called RIG. You also must begin the series of the vaccine. Two shots the first day( they actually call that Day Zero), another shot the 3rd day, another shot the 7th day, another shot the 14th day and the final shot the 21st day....remember that! But it is critical to administer both shots the first day. One hospital only had the RIG on hand and said that the vaccine is on backorder and has been for months! WHAT???? Another hospital only had the vaccine on hand. And the last hospital had nothing but worked really hard trying to help me and called the same county health dept. (that I do not live in) for help...blah blah blah...it was awful. I even tried to get my family doc to give me the shot...No, they do not do that, nor does their ER! I called again and he finally agreed to order it through that same county that I do not live in...I guess that was ok for me to get the shot through the family doc just not directly through that county! Wow!
Everything in life goes up and down, even and odd, good and bad, happy and sad, etc. Yesterday, I was in mental pain and today I would be in physical pain. I kept thinking of Anna...

Anna with husband Frank and son Milo

Then God stepped in, and for those who don't believe as strongly, think of the odds! The good neighbor called in the evening and managed to get the cat in the carrier (with only a scratch)!!!! Yippeee!!! Now what to do with her? I don't want her around my babies, the vets' offices were closed. It was late evening. I took her to the ER and thankfully they agreed to board her overnight. They never have done that before... thank you ER!! I was not going to chance another bite so I shelled out $38 this morning; she was very well behaved and did not bite the tech and I took her to my vet to wait out the rest of the quarantine period. I will know Friday morning. We all are 99% sure she is fine but you never know and I certainly do not want history to repeat itself! Thank You God! I know your hand was in this whole ordeal! But I still must wait and see....do I have rabies?


Paintsmh said...

My heart goes out to you! We live in an area where rabies is very common. We have had so many scares over the years, from wild cats, bats, even cows....At least the prevalence of the disease means that the shots are readily available if someone is bitten. I hope the cat stays well and you aren't forced to worry or suffer any more because of this.

Ali said...

Oh wow, I never really think about rabies. Our dogs get their shots, but that is about the extent of my thoughts about it, except for when raccoons are around (especially in the daytime). I am going to go look up and see if it is very common around here. I hope all is well with the kitty and that you don't have rabies!

Totally Timmy said...

That is scary. I've been bitten a few times by strays and never given it a second thought. I think there is a shot we can get to prevent catching rabies just like the animals. Maybe we should go get it. What a horrible disease for your aunt to pass away from..

Laurie said...

They just lifted a rabies quaranteen here, but I would be worried if I were bitten like you were. I think you were very wise to make plans to have the shot. I hope that you are fine and that the little kitty gets a new home and better existence as a result.


Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

Oh my! First off... I did love all the old pictures. Very cool. Secondly, the possibility of rabies. Not cool. Hope everything works out okay for you!

Kritter Keeper said...

i think all is well, Itty Bitty seems fine and tomorrow morning she will be spayed. thank you for all of your comments and concerns... i was spooked resulting from poor anna's demise.

Les said...

I'm not sure I'd heard about Anna and the rabies - or maybe I forgot? Don't think I'd forget something like that. So glad all appears well. So is this kitty joining your family too?

Kritter Keeper said...

that is a good question...i am hoping the neighbor will let her hang out there since she already trusts him. after 5 years of living in the woods, i am not sure she wants confinement. we cannot take anymore in the house and the barn cats would have a fit!