Worry can overwhelm me. As my husband so bluntly tells it, it can be hard to live with. The days leading up to Christmas were worrisome ones. It started the week before with a bat, and our cats (Susie & Billy).
In the middle of the night, L comes in for a snuggle. She stops at our door, and starts to cry, “Susie’s chasing something!” I do a “there-there” kind of mom-in-the-middle-of-the-night response, vaguely noticing that the cat did jump off the bed, but it’s the middle of the night, and it seems so quiet. Somehow, we are calm and we sleep.
Fast forward 30 hours or so, and husband lets us know that he found a dying bat on the pantry floor. He took care of it, and all is fine. L cries a bit – feeling sad for the bat, and I feel the same way. Cats are not nice to their prey, and the bat was now in a plastic bag in the trash. It’s not a nice story.
Fast forward another 30 hours or so to Saturday night, when husband mentions something about the bat: “Yada, yada, bat, yada, house, yada, yada, rabies, yada, yada, everything is okay now!”
Wait. What? Rabies. Rabies? Why didn’t I freak out about that before? I know you aren’t supposed to google, but it’s night time and husband is asleep, and all I have is google.
Did you know that rabies is 100% fatal? That you don’t know you have it until it’s too late? That bats found in your house in the winter usually mean that there is a colony? That rabies is 100% fatal? That you can get bitten by a bat in your sleep and never know it? That bat bites don’t always leave a mark? That rabies is 100% fatal?
Sunday morning. I call the one vet that I can find that is open. She completely freaks me out about my cats and bats. “Vaccinations aren’t 100%. . . You need to keep your cats away from your kids . . . You need to call the Game department, the Health department. . . This is a big deal.” Sunday is not a good day to try to reach any of these people. But, she gives me another direction as well, “Take the dead bat to the animal diagnostic lab. It will be hard to find, but there is an after hours drop-off refrigerator. Don’t be freaked out if you walk in and there’s a cow in there.” So because I don’t want to go myself, and I feel guilty sending husband by himself, we all pile in the car for a family adventure. Fun times for the family for sure.
After the drop off, we begin the waiting game. I alternate between trying to forget about it and have holiday cheer, and being absolutely unable to stop freaking out imagining the horror of what rabies would mean. We all want to pet Billy & Susie, but we don’t. At night, we close all the bedroom doors to keep the cats away, and I hear every noise: every meow, every squeak of our old heaters(hopefully), every creak of our 100 year old house. And I worry. I am very good at worrying.
Monday morning the lab is open, and they tell me they will send the bat out for testing. I should hear by Tuesday. I now have only one Christmas wish. The animal diagnostic lab worker says “You don’t need to freak out and get shots yet.” Yet. Monday is a long day. I call my vet, who says to watch the cats for weird behavior, and also I am their first bat call. I call my doctor, who is in the middle of moving offices. He’s not there. I call his new office, and they say that if I need to, I should go to the ER. I wait. I pray. I imagine rabies, and children getting foamy and dying. I read more about bats than I ever wanted to. I wait. I pray. I call the ER doctors to ask if the 2 week incubation period is really 2 weeks, or could it be sooner? I am told it is usually 2 weeks or more. I am also told, “Well, first of all, you shouldn’t ever freak out about anything.” Really? Rabies? Death? Doctors, nurses and vets act like I am crazy for being so freaked out but the only available information is very scary. So which is it? I try to temper my worry, and that works sporadically.
Tuesday I call several times until finally they have an answer for me. The conversation is odd though. The woman is rushed, and annoyed and after saying “Negative.” she talks quickly to her coworker, and things sound confusing. “There was another bat that tested positive in your area, but yours is negative.” I make her repeat my reference number, and the results, and hang up. I am not feeling the relief I thought I’d feel because of the oddness of the phone conversation. I know it’s Christmas Eve, and I shouldn’t, but I call again. It’s been a long few days of worry and I need 100% reassurance. She is even more rushed and annoyed, which I totally understand, but when I get off the phone, I wonder if she really double checked or what. My friend nicely says “Checking twice is understandable, but three times is a little crazy.” She’s right, so I ask Husband to make the call. I can’t explain why I can’t get off the freak out train – but it really has been a long few days of worry.He calls. The woman is even more annoyed, “I think I just gave this information to your wife.” But his triple checking makes me feel a little more confident. Baby steps, I guess.
I guess it is just weird. You find a bat, killed by your cats, you freak out, vets freak you out. You drop the dead bat off in the back of a building with a piece of paper with your information. Then you wait for other people to transfer your bat and your information. People tell you to not freak out, but that it can be very serious. Where are the experts?
On Thursday I got the call from the local animal diagnostic lab. “Your bat tested negative for rabies.” I called them back, thanked them and did another double check.
I think I’m finally off of the freak out train. Now we need to figure out how to check for more bats, and what to do with them if there are. . . because if our cats get another one. . . we will have to go through this whole waiting game, freak-out train again.
Here’s to less worry in 2014!