One thing you don’t know about me (yet)

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.

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18 Comments

  1. You’ve led quite an adventure-filled life. Thank God for Louis Pasteur (the Institute and the legend himself).

    Reply
  2. Haha what a narration.

    Reply
  3. Sorry for the schadenfreude, but your entire post had me laughing. Glad you came through ok. It is a fantastic story

    Reply
    • Uh-oh, my ignorance is showing. What’s a…Scheherezade….no, that’s not it…what is it, Precious? (Sorry, just re-read The Hobbit for the 200th time). Honestly, is that a version of sang-froid? Glad it tickled your funny bone. It is a miracle that I am still alive, which is one reason I don’t kill myself. Know what I mean?

      Reply
  4. You really told your tale of woe in such an entertaining way. I’m sorry you experienced such troubles – but I sure enjoyed reading your narration.

    Reply
  5. Hi Laura, On one hand i could imagine your turmoil when you described the dog bite and on the other hand I was blushing when you narrated the situation in India. For a westerner it all must appear to be a mess. :-)))

    Reply
    • Oh dear Ashu, not all of us live in tidy Western nations. And even those who do often find themselves homeless, without access to medical care, decent food, clean water…my home land Israel suffers from many kinds of lack….I spent 27 hours in the emergency department of the best Israeli hospital once, bleeding from the intestines….doctors go on strike fairly regularly due to not being paid their wages by the government….I have a deep end enduring love for India, and hope to get back as soon as possible. The truth is the truth, and it’s not always pretty. Remember that when this all happened I was in the hills, where most villages are reachable only by jeep or ox-cart. Or bicycle in the very brief dry season, or on foot, as most people went. While at the hospital, one of our staff lost his sister because she was giving birth to twins and one of them was sideways, and it was monsoon and they couldn’t get her out. India shows you life and death up close where you can’t ignore them. It is this brutal honesty that is one of the things I truly love about India. I know that I am privileged. If I am really sick I can hire a car to take me to the nearest modern hospital. My next post will probably be about my adventure with my broken wrist, that happened the day before the dog bite, and I truly hope it will not make you feel bad. I feel close to you, even though we haven’t (yet!!!!) met in person, so it pains me to cause you pain. Be well…Laura

      Reply
  6. Hi Laura, first of all thank you so much for writing such a passionate, long reply to my comment. I am touched, genuinely. I know that whatever you have written is in good spirit so there is no question of feeling bad about anything. I am always open to know the opinion no matter how drastically opposite it is to mine, so I really look forward to your blogs about India and Israel.

    I am surprised to know about Israel. I feel the way the country has risen despite so many problems is remarkable.

    I once again appreciate your thoughtfulness, concern and care that reflects in your comments.

    Be blessed
    Ashu

    Reply
  7. I’m waiting to read the next nine “or so things about yourself that nobody in the Blogosphere could know.” I’m shaking my heard at this one. Not a good experience, but well written!

    Reply
  8. What a story…!!!

    Reply
  9. manyofus1980

     /  December 16, 2014

    Laura, I needed this so much! Thanks girl! Giggle fit I had reading it. I mean I’m sorry it happened of course, but omg can you tell a story, says i!hahahaha come over to our new blog http://manymults.wordpress.com/ We’re blogging there now! XX

    Reply

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