Monday, November 10, 2008

How's that Search for Rabid Bats Coming Along, Sweetheart?

About a month ago, the Matron found a bat sleeping on the basement stairs. After a few shrieks and faints, she managed to haul her husband down there to remove said villain. Leather gloves were used and cardboard, not human flesh, made contact with the vermin.

But, UGH! My, what teeth you have, Dracula! This is SO a picture from google!

Alas, that bat was to be the Matron's psychological undoing. She remembered the northern Minnesota man who died of rabies this summer: he didn't even know he had been bitten. Still, reason prevailed until she listened to This American Life's Halloween Real Life Horror stories on RABIES. Specifically, about a woman who couldn't rip the rabid raccoon off of her.

Oh My God. While listening, the Matron peeked outside by the garbage can, checking for raccoons. Or skunks. Wildlife, in general.

Then, the radio narrator issued this warning: if you ever find a sleeping bat in a child's bedroom, that child must be vaccinated against rabies! Children or the infirm can be bitten without knowing, while they sleep. Now, being the infirm herself, Matron did what any rational, phobia and panic-oriented person might do at that moment.

She got online and starting researching bats and rabies. Yup. Dropped everything in the middle of a busy day and got going on THAT special project.

The upshot of this endeavor was that the Matron became inclined to - and did! -- type her very own little email message to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, querying those good folk about the sleeping bat in her basement and the possibility that her entire family was already doomed but didn't know it. Now, do you know anyone else who sends email messages to the CDC?

The CDC is THE hot spot for fueling the Matronly fears.

They actually answered! Suggestions for psychiatric care aside, there were reassurances that Official Government Word is on a sleeping bat, far far away from humanity in the household, poses no vaccine-warranting danger.

But there's still that issue of future bats, sleeping in bedrooms. This is a pesky problem because there's that whole issue of finding the sleeping bat in the first place. It occurred to the Matron -- as she rationally thought the entire logistical endeavor through--that one would have to actively seek sleeping bats, keep an eye out. Unless that bat was going to lounge like Satan's Familiar, cozy on the bed or conveniently located on a bookshelf or floor (like, look, over here! here I am, rabid bat!) , the Matron would need to deploy some kind of tactical search and retreive team throughout her children's bedrooms -- every day.

Days like today, when she's on campus, communication with the spouse goes something like this:

"John, I didn't get a chance to search the children's bedrooms, but would you please check for sleeping bats? Oh, and pick up the prescription at the drugstore."

Email message, sent from school: "John, how's the sleeping bat search going? Did I mention that you should look in closets and under doors?"

Phone: "You know, sweetie, the CDC website says to patch holes to prevent bats from entering. There's that huge hole in our smaller closet that needs attention. In the meantime, can you duct tape the bottom of the door shut? We don't need to go in there."

The Matronly state of panicked affairs is reminiscent of Y2K, when a very strange thing happened to her.

She was convinced that there was at least potential for complete global collapse. Anarchy. Food shortages, gas crises, riot in the street. The internet can be a dangerous thing in unstable hands, and the Matron's? Her hands were shaking (literally -- and that's a clue)!

In the six months leading up to January 1 2000, the Matron was a shaking, quaking, weight-losing mess. She spent as much time as possible online, hanging out on survivalist web sites and reading all about the mayhem promised ahead.

Her neighbors did not help. There was much discussion of 'living off the grid.' How to make your own heat, fuel and electricity. Now, the Matron very much liked 'the grid' and had no intention of living off it it: she just didn't want that municipal network of heat and electricity to go away or be threatened!

How about that family slaughtering rabbits for food? Right down the block. All those adorable bunnies' heads hacked off and the rest popped in the freezer. That family butchered and froze bunnies for the entire year of 1999. The backyard was a row after row of cages.

The Matron would stand on street corners with these people, plotting.

The entire situation peaked one fall night when the Matron came downstairs and laid out their survival plan to her husband. They would pack the dogs, children and vital ingredients and flee to Leech Lake Indian Reservation where their dearest friends lived.

Indians know how to live off the grid, she reasoned. We can stay with them. We might not need to, but there's Plan B. Go Native.

Now, the Matron doesn't know how John knew to do this, but he did. He held her hands and said this: "Let me take care of the survival plan. Stop the research. Don't think about it. I'll do everything - - assess the risk, make the plan, stockpile food and water. Please just hand this problem over to me. Trust me to take care of you."

And she did! Literally, just like that. She turned it over, relieved.

Occasionally, she'd check in: "Are we storing fuel in the garage? Do you think canned food would be a good idea?"

John: "I'm all over it! No worries!"

Still, one day, the Matron took her quaking shaking weight-losing, hair-falling out self to the doctor because she just didn't feel quite right, impending apocalypse aside --hadn't, ever since Scarlett was about six months old. Turns out?

The Matron had Graves Disease. Hyperthyroidism. Which can result in? Weight loss. Hair loss. Anxiety. Outright paranoia. FEAR.

Which helped explain her penchant for survivalist web sites. Still, post-diagnosis (and the drama of getting that thyroid in line will be another story), the Matron found herself standing in front of 200 count packs of Q-Tips, dirt cheap on sale.

Naturally, she put 20 packages in her cart. She just had to stock up on something!

On December 31st, 1999, John remembered to fill up the car with gas. He bought nary a bottle of water nor can of corn. And the Matron hasn't purchased a Q-Tip in approximately 8 years.

Maybe she'll check her thyroid levels in between forages for rabid bats.


Rima said...

What is the CDC for, if not to answer random questions about bat containment?

Julie said...

Rabid bats, the CDC, your sweet husband, a gazillion q-tips ...posts like this one is why I come back to visit you day after day!

Interestingly, my verification word is "ratin." If only rats had been included in the story! :)

Zenmomma said...

Well thank heavens you don't have the rabies. I completely understand the paranoia thing. Don't get me started on the coming banking/economy collapse and end of the world as we know it. That's best left for another day. Better yet, I'll just give it to your husband to worry about.

verification word: subjecat-it must have a meaning

Heather said...

Not to fuel your paranoia but an acquaintance just told me that she had to have 2 of her kids vaccinated for rabies because they slept in a room with a bat this summer. One kid did get bit and the bite got infected otherwise they probably wouldn't have known. The other child that was sleeping in that room had to be vaccinated as well as a precaution.

Something like 8 shots the first day, additional rounds at 3, 5, 7 days 1 month and 3 months. And the needle is rather long.

I was definitely not envious of her having to hold her 4 year old down for all that.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

It's not a good day when one has to contact the CDC. It's like a Richard Preston kind of day. He should write a book about you.

Anonymous said...

I kept reading this post, thinking it couldn't get any weirder or funnier... and then it did... and did again.

Keep blogging, Matron, and I'll keep reading!

Minnesota Matron said...

Thanks, to those who compliment. The Matron LOVES this wacky post. Totally true. Sort of makes her wonder about her own sanity.

Suburban Correspondent said...

It's so nice to know I'm not the only crazy one out here.

JCK said...

Bats. Bats. You have every right to panic. SHRIEK!

Thank GOD you clarified that bat picture was GOOGLED.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think I'd go bats**t crazy to if I found a bat in the house.

Anonymous said...

Infirm. Giggle. You slay me.

Paula Lynn Johnson said...

This brought back (fond?) memories of my pregnancy, when I spent every waking minute on the Web, researching all the conditions I KNEW I was passing onto my kids. Oh, and you should have seen me when West Nile Virus hit NJ - husband almost got me one of those toxic waste suits.

Lynda said...

This is so friend and I were just talking about rabies (I have no idea why!) and remembered my cousin found a sleeping bat once. He thought it was dead and nailed it to a board. Then, the genius decided to stick his finger in the bat's mouth.

Guess who got ALL of the rabies shots?


FlourGirl said...

There's nothing wrong with a healthy level of paranoia, especially about bats. We found one sleeping in the hallway & I made the then-10 year old son take it out of the house. With huge oven mits and a paper towel. No rabies shot tho.

thefirecat said...

Oh my God, we ARE one. When I started getting highly anxious and weirdly paranoid, my husband and I had a deal. The deal was he would ask me how regularly I was remembering to take my thyroid medication, and I would not accuse him of conspiracy to commit me until three days after I had answered this question....

Daisy said...

I joined the team to train as a public health volunteer, and every time I go to a training I get the urge to stockpile. Last training I learned to use a police radio. Fun times!

Elizabeth Channel said...

My MIL fell prey to the same paranoia and bought up mass quantities of Italian spice mix with the promise that one day we would be able to trade a jar of spice for a car battery.

Every time we use one of the hefty jars she bestowed upon us, we smile and remark to ourselves, "Could have been a car battery."

Incidentally she, too, has been diagnosed with thyroid issues...

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I'm totally in love with you. You know that, right?