Dearest Readers, every once in a while I get gifted with an Award. These usually require one to do a series of tasks which, to be perfectly honest, I am not capable of doing. Generally I thank the bestower of the Award and tell her I can’t do it, but sometimes I get ashamed and don’t say anything, which of course makes me feel even more ashamed. Sigh.
There is a bright side: most of these awards require that you disclose 10 or so things about yourself that nobody in the Blogosphere could know. Really? I thought everybody knew everybody else quite intimately, after a few years of blogging together. What a wonderful community we have! But OK, I will concede that there are things that not everybody knows about ME.
For instance, I bet nobody knows I’ve had four (4) rabies shots. Yep, I have, and I got them because I was attacked by a crazy dog while taking a stroll through a tiny village, while I was sojourning in India. The nasty thing took a 3 cm x 6 cm chunk out of my right thigh. It turned out to be a good thing it was my right thigh, as will be explained later.
Upon returning from my rambles I cleaned the wound thoroughly and picked up the phone. I had had the good fortune to pick a retreat very near to the Louis Pasteur Institute, where they do research on rabies and how to prevent people from reliably dying of it. Did you know that over 30,000, that’s thirty thousand, people in India die of rabies every year?
So I called the Louis Pasteur Institute and told receptionist that I had been bitten by a crazy dog, and what should I do? First the woman asked me if it was a street dog or a village dog. Village dog. Definitely has an owner? Yes, definitely: she came out of her house and laughed at the dog biting me. Definitely a village dog with an owner. I can tell the quarantine officer exactly which dog it was.
We don’t do that, says the receptionist (probably a Nobel Prize winner, the place is terribly understaffed). First of all, impossible to do, so many dogs. Secondly, no money for that. (She asks a few more questions about the bite, to determine the proper treatment.)
Well, she says, definitely you need the vaccine, but you do not need the immune globulin.
That was what I wanted to hear. The immune globulin keeps the poison from spreading, but has to be injected at close intervals around the border of the wound. They would have had to etherize me to get that done.
So all I needed was the four shots of vaccine. I had a choice: I could either come down to the Institute and stand in a line for four or more hours to get the vaccine for free; or, if I had the means, I could go into any pharmacy and buy the vaccine.
I was shocked. Pharmacies carrying rabies vaccine for home injection? I kept on having to focus on the landscape around me and repeat the mantra “You’re in India! You’re in India!” Same in Israel: “You’re in Israel! You’re in Israel!”
Since I happened to be a patient in an Ayurvedic hospital, the cook was sent (don’t ask me why they sent the cook; this is India!) to the pharmacy carrying a good chunk of my rupees, and returned with four lovely sealed vials of the vaccine, chilled and not out of date.
As I went to give myself the first injection, I yelled “OUCH” and realized what a good thing it was that the dog wound was on the right.
You see, I had broken my wrist the day before. That’s right. I broke my wrist on Saturday, and was bitten by a possibly rabid dog on Sunday, all while getting my health back at a lovely retreat in the Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu, South India. That is another story, for another day.
It was much easier to soak and clean the bite wound with my left hand, than it would have been with my right, because of the location of the bite on my thigh.
But back to the rabies vaccine.
Since I couldn’t self-administer an injection with my right arm, which was broken, and my left hand is useless for anything that requires strength, because it is partially fused due to an argument with an Appaloosa horse (another time), I had to recruit someone else to do it for me.
The most logical “someone” was my Ayurvedic doctor. I called upon him and he widened his eyes and said he’d never given an injection in his life. What, says I, aren’t you a physician? An Ayurvedic physician, he returns. Ayurveda does not have anything to do with injections.
Well, says I, you are going to learn.
In my cottage I had all the necessary items: alcohol, vials, syringes (you can buy those in any pharmacy in India), cotton, plasters, orange.
Orange? Yes, this is how we learn to give injections. An orange has a somewhat similar feel to it, when you stick a needle in it, as human flesh. How many of you (nurses and doctors excluded) knew that little tidbit?
After he mastered jabbing the orange, it came time to jab me. His face went pale and he broke out in a sweat.
“Libi, I think I am going to faint.” He always called me Libi because I use my Hebrew name, Liebe or Lieba, when I am not in the States.
“No you’re not,” I said firmly. “Get ahold of yourself. Drink some water. And get this over with, please, Doctor-Ji.”
He took a couple of deep breaths and grabbed hold of the syringe, stuck it in my arm way too far (I hoped he would not hit bone), and squeezed the vaccine in. Hmm, wonder if the vaccine will work that way. Oh well, if I die of rabies then I won’t have to suffer in this life any more. I thanked him and he apologized several million times before he left. Such a sweet sweet soul. I hope I see him again before too long.
So I had two more shots in India, and another upon return to Israel. Blood tests showed that I am now immune to rabies. So come on, all you rabid bats, raccoons, possums, coyotes, jackals, wolverines and wildebeests, let’s rumble!!!!!
No, I didn’t mean that, not really.
So now you know the story of the rabies shots, and why I had them. Perhaps I will tell you about how I broke my arm, the day before the dog bit me. After the fact, I find it quite amusing, even though it has left me with some measure of disability. But that’s for next time.