"That Does Not Meet Our Criteria."

"That Does Not Meet Our Criteria."

You’ll want to be sure you are sitting down for this one because it’s been quite a ride.

In preparation for a visit from beloved friends, Buds and I were excited to create a cozy space in the attic to sleep in while they were here. We invited Buster to join us up there so that all our friends could have their own space and he willingly agreed.

Friends arrived on Thursday, and we were happy and cozy sleeping upstairs. Buds and I have big dreams of turning the space into a studio apartment, and staying up there helped us truly envision the potential. We loved being up there.

Sunday night/Monday morning, I got up around 12:30 a.m. to use the facilities. I came back upstairs and snuggled into bed.

I noticed a fluttering above me and thought, “Wow, that’s a really big moth.”

Then my brain kicked in.

I shone the flashlight on my phone overhead and saw at least two swooping bats and heard their chirping sounds.

I slugged the sleeping pile next to me and squeaked, “Buds! Bats!”

I turned my flashlight to Buster’s cot and sighed with relief seeing he hadn’t come to bed yet.

We slumped downstairs and created beds for all of us in the living room and settled back in to try and get some sleep.

Internet research quickly led to horrifying information and I was on the phone with the health department bright and early.

Judy at the health department had a couple questions for me after I explained the situation.

“Are you heavy sleepers?”

“My husband is.”

“Was your son up there when you saw the bats?”

“He hadn’t come to bed yet.”

Judy’s verdict based on health department criteria; Buds and I qualified to receive rabies inoculations, but Buster did not because he wasn’t there when the bats were seen.

She told me where Buds and I would need to go to get our shots and we hung up the phone.

The more we thought about it, the less sense it made to us that Buster wouldn’t also need treatment. (The guidelines are very clear that if a sleeping person has been in the space with the bats, they need vaccinated. People often don’t know they’ve been bitten and the bites are tiny.)

To be clear, it is rare that a bat bites a person. It is rare that that bat who bites the person also has rabies. The odds of both those items coming together in the bats we saw fluttering in our attic is extremely unlikely, but if you get rabies…you die. That’s an easy decision to make if you have the money to make it.

Or so I thought, until I started trying to find a way to get Buster vaccinated.

I called back the health department to talk to Judy again.

“He doesn’t meet health department criteria for vaccination, but you can get him vaccinated. Just tell them you’ve talked to the health department and we’re aware of the case, but we won’t be paying for it.”

Judy told me to call our doctor, which I did.

They couldn’t help, but they gave me a phone number and address of a place to call that could help, they said.

That place, Passport Health, would be glad to give the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th shots in the vaccine series, but the first shots would need to be given somewhere else.

“Where?!” I asked.

“The emergency room,” I was told.

I called ahead to the ER to make sure they even had the shots since I knew it could take hours, and I got patched through to the “care line.”

This very kind nurse listened to our story and she really got it.

“Oh my G-d,” she said. “That’s ridiculous that they wouldn’t approve him getting the shots. Yes, go to the ER, they have them and he can get them there.”

Bless Buster’s heart, he’d been so patient and anxious all this time. We jumped into the van and headed to the ER.

“We normally use the health department criteria,” was how the conversation began.

We just kept being patient and explaining our story over and over, waiting for someone to truly hear what we were saying.

Buster and I were there for hours on Monday afternoon and we finally got Nurse Practitioner Julie to really listen. She tried calling and left 4 messages for the health department and after not hearing back came out to talk with us.

“The attending and I talked about it and we agree that he definitely needs the shot, so we’ve ordered it and we’re just waiting on the pharmacy to send it up.”

Many hours after we arrived, Buster and I headed home, first of four rabies vaccines in his arm.

When we got home Gina asked if he’d also been given immunoglobulin, because she’d chatted with a nurse friend who postulated he probably would be. He had not, but I said I assumed the medical staff knew what they were doing. We figured it was fine.

We had time for a quick hello to everyone, then Buds and I headed out to the urgent care clinic the health department uses for all their “approved” rabies cases.

We were there for around an hour and a half as we waited our turn in line. Buds even had time for a nap.

We had delightful nurse Darcy who got us all checked in, then the doctor came in.

He was extroverted and chatty, and in talking with him we realized we were going to be given both immunoglobulin and the 1st rabies vaccine shot.

I peppered him with questions about Buster’s case and came away realizing Buster and I were going to be headed back to the ER.

Interestingly when I asked this doctor if I could bring Buster back to this clinic to get the shots if we couldn’t get help at the ER, his response, after telling me what he thought I should do, including saying, “if it was my son, I would definitely get him the immunoglobulin,” was that he couldn’t help because, “Oh, I have to do what the health department tells us.”

(Side note, the shots are no longer given in the stomach and they are not incredibly painful. The immunoglobulin goes into a muscle, so it can be painful and the nurse had to push dang hard on those plungers to drive the fluid into Buddie’s thick quad muscles. It stung, but no more tenderness than intense workout soreness. We received a shot in each thigh and one in an arm.)

Buster and I headed back to the ER. When we were checking in the nurse told us, “It’s going to take a long time. I just want you to know that. We’re going to have to talk to infectious disease and the health department and it could take hours. We normally use the health department criteria.”

We dealt with more than one person who acted like Buster not personally seeing the bats somehow gave him magical immunity. They couldn’t seem to grasp that he’d slept in the same space with us the previous three nights and the idea that the bats weren’t up there then was a little lacking in common sense.

I really got the impression that she was expecting us to be frustrated and just go home, but that was not an option, so she checked us in.

After we’d been there about an hour, they did move us into an exam room, which felt like a step forward.

After another hour of waiting, Dr. Tammie came in and she really listened!!

“Let me try and call the health department.”

After another 30 minutes she came in with her no nonsense attitude.

“I left a message for the health department and I’ve ordered the immunoglobulin. He should have been given that before, so we’ll need to look into that on our side.”

I was so profusely grateful and told her so.

“I’ve learned I’ve always got to listen to the story. There’s always a story and you can’t assume you know what it is.”

The rabies vaccines are given on day zero, day 3, day 7, and day 14.

I called Passport Health and got Buster’s follow up vaccines all scheduled with no problems. They don’t take insurance and they cost a lot of money, but I’ll fight with our insurance company later about paying for them if needed, and the peace of mind is completely worth it. Buds and I will be going back to the same urgent care clinic where we received our initial doses.

Thanks to Gina and Todd for ordering dinner for all of us on Monday night so we had a delicious meal to come home to. That extra touch of caring helped.

This has been stressful, and I’m grateful we’ve reached a positive resolution for us, but I think about other people who don’t have insurance or money and so have to play the odds the other direction, assuming they’ll be fine.

In case you are wondering, we’re getting a new roof which will hopefully take care of this particular issue.

P.S I wanted to call this post “Bat Nuts,” but Buster thought that wasn’t appropriate. 😁😁😁