Going batty (part 2)

This post is a continuation from the prior “Going Batty” post. If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend reading it so that you have context for this post. After this one, you can move on to part 3, part 4, and part 5.

So, we went to the ER yesterday afternoon to get our shots. We live about 20 minutes away from the nearest hospital, so it was an easy enough thing to pick up the kids from their respective schools and trot on up the road – in quite a bit of a monsoon (Tropical Storm Andrea) to the closest ER. The place was empty when we got there, prompting me to stupidly remark about how we were the only ones there. Of course, a queue showed up and the front desk people tried not to hurl staplers at my head.

As soon as our paperwork was done, we were ushered into a “Fast Track” Exam Room, where we then proceeded to wait for a whole hour. This prompted some complaining from dh about how the healthcare delivery system isn’t reliant on customer service, so there isn’t any…at which point I reminded him gently that there are people who come to the ER for things a bit more traumatic and perhaps in need of urgent assistance than the family that moseyed in for rabies vax a week post-exposure.

The doctor who came in about halfway through our wait asked a few questions about the exposure, then he confirmed our weights so that they could get the dosage right. The Human Rabies Immune Globulin (HRIG) that’s administered before the hot pink rabies vaccine is dosed based on weight. The most amusing part of this entire process was seeing the double take from the doctor when I told him my weight and he thought I was kidding because I didn’t look like I weighed that much. Sigh. I wish I didn’t weigh as much as all that, especially when my “skinnier” jeans aren’t tight on me. Oh well.

Eventually, a nurse came to claim dh and he returned about 5 minutes later, looking pale as a ghost. I put on my brave face for the kids and scooted out with the nurse after I confirmed with dh that he was, in fact, okay. Being that I’m the heaviest of the bunch, I got the most shots (all based on that HRIG). While DH got four shots (or five – he can’t remember), I ended up with six: five of the HRIG and one of the rabies vax (Novartis’ RabAvert). Thank goodness we weren’t turned away at the door. It wasn’t until I went to go grab links for this post that I saw there’d been any kind of concern (now lifted) about rabies vax supply!

Natch, all the shots are intramuscular – so the pair of nurses administered four doses in my legs (thigh muscles), one in my glute and one in my upper arm (the last being the RabAvert). All of the remaining shots are going to be in the arm and they’ll be of the hot pink RabAvert vax. The funny thing is, getting all kinds of shots in my legs didn’t hurt nearly as much as the ONE shot in my arm. Go fig.

After my shots, I collected ds – who was a MASSIVE TROOPER and didn’t even cry or flinch – and then dd, who completely blew past her own expectations and was similarly a BOSS at getting her shots with nary a whimper. Both kids just did wonderfully with their shots. Hopefully this means that we’ll have a slightly easier time with the remaining shots, since it’s only ONE needle and not several. (They each had two shots – one of the HRIG and one of the RabAvert.)

Once we got our shots, I got us through the discharge process – $400 in ER copays for the lot of us – and we were off to dinner at Friendly’s. DS ate pretty poorly, but he drank most of his dinner. I can relate; I’ve had nights where that was a solid option. Of course, seeing as how he’s only 3, “drinking his dinner” constituted 1-1/2 plastic cups of milk.

The process of explaining to the kids what was going on was really pretty similar to how you don’t tell your dog you’re neutering them until they’re at the vet. Until then, it’s all, “Hey, boy! Let’s go for a ride!” We waited until dd was in the car and we were almost to ds’ day care to let her in on what had happened. She had questions that were sometimes tough to answer, such as “Was the bat in my room?”…but not answering just seemed wrong. What I did say, repeatedly, was that we’d located how the bats got in and we’d gotten it fixed. The more I said it, the more I wanted to believe that I could finally take it to heart and stop having my pulse race the second I hear any sound late at night. I’m still so jumpy, and I want not to be.

Our next set of shots is on Monday morning; the whole family goes in for the first appointment of the day, and then we’ll disperse to work and school. I let the school nurse at dd’s school and the assistant director at ds’ day care in on what’s going on, and everybody’s been very sweet and accommodating. My boss is being fantastic about it and is giving me the space I need to just get this all sorted out as efficiently as possible. They all just feel so badly for us. At this point, I want the shots done so that I can say, “We had a problem, but we did the remediation on the house and we got our treatment, so it’s DONE AND NOW WE MUST NEVER SPEAK OF IT AGAIN.” Oh, how I hope we can get to that point soon.

Hopefully, this also won’t be a leg-breaker of a cost for us. We already sank $700 into the bat-proofing from the wildlife company, and now we can add another $400 in ER copays to the tally. Assuming that the remaining vax visits are coded properly, we should be able to call it a day on the financial costs of this nightmare – immunizations are fully covered benefits for our health plan, thanks to Health Care Reform (aka Obamacare). That potentially saves us another $240, but I won’t know for sure until all the claims are processed. I did call our insurer Wednesday night and they said that this is how things should work out. We’ll see.

So, the saga continues, but hopefully it’s all uphill from here. I’m so incredibly impressed with how well the kids did this afternoon. And now it’s time to soldier on…because, really, what else is there to do?

Going batty (part 1)

This is a post I never expected I’d need to write: I’m in the process of scheduling to take the entire family to the ER on Friday to get a series of rabies vaccination shots.

It all started last week, when dh woke me early on Friday morning with a flashlight to the eyes. We hadn’t lost power, which would be the usual event for flashlight wielding. This time, it was a bat in dd’s room, he said. DH has been a light sleeper since the kids were born. I’ve always been a pretty solid sleeper, but exhaustion makes it worse for me, and I was pretty tired that night. Adrenaline kicked in once I made it down the hall to dd’s room and saw a black thing swooping and racing around the room in wide circles, only a foot or two below the ceiling.

It zipped past me up the hallway to the living room and began circling there. (Our house is ranch-style, so the majority of the “general living” space is right there when you first walk in and there’s a hallway that leads to the bedrooms, on the other side of the house.) It then whipped past the two of us as we crouched in the hallway, back and forth, up and down the hallway. DH had asked how to get rid of it or capture it, and the best I could think of was to trap it in one of the rooms and open the windows (removing the screens) to let it fly out on its own. In this case, with it flying around in the living room, the front door seemed the best option. DH opened the front door and the storm door, and once he held a beach towel up to (seemingly) block the hallway to the bat, it flew out of the house through the open front door.

Of course, we didn’t sleep after that. We were both panicked, freaked out, and completely flush with adrenaline. Unable to sleep even though we were completely exhausted, we reached for a Globe Magazine and started to do the crossword. An hour later, the crossword was done…but we were now 45mins away from dh’s alarm going off, and sleep seemed so incredibly pointless and impossible. We soldiered on, trying to distract ourselves from the fact that we were still terribly on edge, and we got our day started. My day was full of meetings and ran long; dh felt ill early in the afternoon and picked up my slack by getting the kids from school when I was running too late to do it myself.

He called a wildlife company to come out and see how the bats were coming in – but they couldn’t come until Tuesday…precious days later.

We took a guess that maybe the bat had come in through the air conditioning vent in dd’s room, so the following night (and the remaining nights) we kept dd’s AC vent open only during the day and shut it each night. Seeing as how we were having a heat wave, we needed the AC, but we counted on the bats not being active during the day – if they were even up in the attic.

*  *  *  *  *

Monday night came and I was running late getting to bed. (Sense a theme here yet?) I was putting my cell phone down and about to get up off the couch in the den when I looked up and spied something black and about 5-6″ wide on the blinds on the other side of the room. My heart started to beat awfully fast, and completely incapable of coming up with anything better – I yelled out dh’s name, hoping he’d hear me in our bedroom and come running to my defense. The bat took this opportunity to fly just past me and did a few swoops not too far away from me, perhaps sensing that it had the upper hand, and I was shaking.

DH came to my rescue and sent me to our room, telling me to shut the door behind me. I raced down the hall and shut the doors to both kids’ rooms, then shut the door to our room. Not even 2mins later, I heard the sound of our front door shutting; DH had convinced yet another bat to get out of the house. We quickly went through the entire house, closing all of the remaining open AC vents. It seemed impossible that only a few hours before the bat-people were coming to the house, we’d have yet another unwanted visitor…but we did.

The wildlife company came to the house and (according to dh) immediately determined that the chimney was the source of the problem. They told dh that there was no sign of bats in the attic (either visual or olfactory), although they did give the caveat that “they like to hide”. Gee, thanks. That helps me sleep at night. They identified the chimney as a problem because the cap on the top of the chimney wasn’t tight enough and didn’t have a one-way door that would restrict access into the chimney by undesirables. Thankfully, they had time on their calendar, and they went all over the roof, replacing the cap and adding that one-way door, screening in other things and sealing others. They left behind an invoice for $700 that had a “bat-free warranty for 3yrs”. Again, will this help me sleep at night? I spent 45mins ruining my nails with a roll of old duct tape, putting a few layers around the fireplace door to try to seal up the gaps between the fireplace door and the marble feature wall it’s set against. The lack of a flush, flat surface created gaps that a bat could easily get through, according to the wildlife company folks.

*  *  *  *  *

We’ve kept the AC vents closed, and the AC folks are coming out today. We haven’t had the AC serviced in the entire time we’ve had the house (11 yrs), and I want them to go over everything in the attic with a fine-tooth comb. If there’s a chance that they DID get in through the ductwork, then we have two problems: 1) an unwanted entry point, and 2) a potential for energy inefficiency due to cooling loss.

And then we get to Friday’s “fun”. I heard another co-worker had bat issues and he took the entire family for rabies shots. That seemed overkill, but I’m not willing to take unnecessary risks. I called my doctor’s office and the pediatrician’s office (the latter directed me to the state Board of Health). All three quoted the CDC, who recommend rabies shots for those who are exposed without their knowledge (like all four of us, who were asleep for some amount of time while a bat was in the house on Friday morning). The first of the series of shots needs to be administered at the Emergency Room, since the immunoglobulin that comes before the vax isn’t available at the doctors’ offices. That plus the vax will round out “Day 0”. We then need boosters of the vax RELIGIOUSLY ON SCHEDULE on Day 3, Day 7 and Day 14. (There’s a potential fifth shot, Day 21, for immuno-compromised individuals, but that doesn’t apply to any of us.)

The consequence of NOT vaxing is running (even a slight) risk of one or more of us developing rabies, which is fatal. The consequence of GETTING vaxed is the incurring of ER copay (probably about $200 total for the four of us, if I’m remembering the cost correctly) and either $240 or $0 in copays, depending upon whether or not the doctor’s office codes the visits as “vaccination” (fully covered benefits under Health Care Reform – PPACA).

So, this is my T-1 day post…knowing that Day 0 is going to be nuts. That’s when we need to admit to the kids that they’re getting shots because we couldn’t protect them from flying rodents coming into the house. It sucks to have to admit that, as a parent, because you want to protect your kids from everything and anything. But I just can’t run the risk of inaction; the cost is too great.

And, ultimately, I want to be able to sleep again. I haven’t slept well in days, and I’m feeling like I’m in a constant state of panic. The fact that I’m staring down vaccinations (which may or may not cause me to have all kinds of other problems, if they contain thimerosal AND if I do, indeed, have an allergy to thimerosal). Yeah, good times all around.

There’s a part of me that refuses to believe that this is happening, but the larger part is just in robot mode trying to get all the boxes checked as I march towards Day 0 and the start of (hopefully) the end of this traumatic saga. Really, this has only confirmed for me that the only way I like my bats is on-screen, preferably in the form of Michael Keaton or Adam West.


(You can read part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 – to read the remainder of this saga.)