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Monday, Sep. 22, 2014

You can't make this stuff up

Posted Saturday, August 30, 2008, at 8:54 PM

As I was in the kitchen putting dinner together this evening, my daughter called.

Since she calls me roughly 75 times a day even when absolutely nothing is going on, I wasn't particularly concerned when I picked up the phone and said, "Hello."

Our normal conversations, no matter how many times she calls each day, are relatively brief -- something new my five-month-old grandson did and she just had to share, a sign she saw on the highway and just had to share, something she heard on the radio and just had to share -- she likes to share the details of her day. All of them.

But today's conversation had a radically different twist.

She made this call while waiting for her father and stepmother to arrive so they could take care of the kids while Sara drove her husband to the emergency room.

The two of them had been outside when Cal stuck his finger into the spout of an apparently-clogged watering can and was bitten by the bat that was stuck inside.

Since her husband is a trained EMT, he knew exactly what to do -- capture the bat and take it with them.

Their older child has a "bug catcher." It's a small mesh contraption that looks a lot like a lunchbox and they'd somehow gotten the bat into it. Sara didn't give me the details on that part of the drama, but I imagine it would have made the Keystone Kops look organized.

After informing me of the bare details, she hung up, saying she'd call me back with more information as soon as she could.

So I waited, figuring it would be a couple of hours before I heard anything further. Each of them had taken a book along, expecting to spend some quality time in the hospital waiting room.

To my surprise, it was barely an hour when the phone rang again, and when I answered it Sara was laughing and I could hear Cal in the background laughing, too. They were on their way home from the hospital.

What could possibly be funny about being bitten by a potentially-rabid bat, I wondered?

Actually, quite a lot, if you discount the being bitten part, anyway.

When they arrived at the hospital, it wasn't busy at all. They were quickly ushered into a treatment room and Cal's finger was examined.

The bite wasn't a deep one, just a scratch. But even the saliva of a rabid animal can transmit the disease, so if the bat turns out to be rabid, he'll have to undergo the treatment and that's no joke.

But -- there is currently a shortage of the vaccine in the area where they live, and the hospital didn't want to administer it needlessly. Since there's a 10-day treatment window, they will send the bat somewhere to be tested and let Cal know the results in a couple of days. He may not need any treatment at all, if the bat's test comes back negative.

And here is where things get deeply strange.

The reason they were laughing, a little hysterically I have to say, is that they still had the bat with them in the bug catcher.

Hospital personnel told them to take the bat home, execute it without damaging the head, and then keep the dead bat in the refrigerator until Tuesday, when they are to bring it back to the hospital so it can be sent out for testing.

Let me say that again.

"Take the bat home, kill it without doing any damage to its head and bring it back Tuesday."

A new twist on "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning."

You can't make this stuff up.


Comments
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In a weird kind of way that is an amusing story Kathy.

On a more serious note, my family and I (I am a grandparent too by the way) will be praying for your Grandchild and we are certainly hoping that the bat is not rabid.

One question though, how did they end up "executing" the bat? That had to be tough on them.

-- Posted by news across on Mon, Sep 1, 2008, at 7:39 AM

It certainly does have its funny side, doesn't it? Although it will be considerably less funny if treatment is needed.

At the moment, the bat is still in the bug catcher, which was placed in a plastic bag and sealed and placed in a small refrigerator in the basement until tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your prayers, which are appreciated. It was my son-in-law who was bitten, not one of the children, but if he has to take treatments for this, your prayers will nevertheless still be needed.

The hospital charged them nothing for the visit to the emergency room, fortunately. But I do question their wisdom in advising them to take the bat home and kill it - it's not as if there's an instruction book for that, and the danger does exist that the bat could have escaped into the house (very bad) or outside (even worse), and Cal would then be forced to take the treatment whether he needed it or not.

The hospital might not be the appropriate place to keep it, either, but still there has to have been a better procedure than "take it home!"

Life is full of odd things, isn't it? And here is just one more!

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Mon, Sep 1, 2008, at 9:04 AM

How bizarre. That could run into two episodes on a sitcom. I can envision Doug and Cary on The King of Queens embroiled in that scenario. We are even left with a cliff hanger!

I of course hope for the very best outcome for your family. To me that would be that the bat tests negative, you have a family story for the ages, and Kathy Fairchild gets an Emmy nomination for best script.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Mon, Sep 1, 2008, at 10:42 AM

A little more on the story...

My daughter said that capturing the bat turned out to be much easier than I'd imagined.

Because the watering can had been filled, the bat got wet, reducing its ability to fly. It struggled to make it to the nearest tree, on the lower part of the trunk, and Cal somehow managed to sort of "coax" it into the bug catcher.

Once inside the trap door, although the little critter raised all kinds of hell, it wasn't able to get out and there it remained for the trip to the hospital and back.

I can imagine them walking up to the desk in the emergency room with the screeching beast in the bug catcher, placing it on the desk and saying, "Uh, here we are with our bat."

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Mon, Sep 1, 2008, at 11:37 AM

I find the strangest detail of this story to be "The hospital charged them nothing for their visit to the emergency room..." What kind of hospital is this?!

-- Posted by ydnasllew on Mon, Sep 1, 2008, at 10:52 PM

ydnasslew: It's actually a very good regional hospital, which makes the entire episode pretty strange. Since Cal required no significant treatment on the day of the incident, there would have been nothing to charge him for, although there are no doubt many hospitals that would have charged him merely for coming in the front door!

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 6:38 AM

Update:

Being the above-mentioned daughter, I thought you'd all like to know that the bat is now safely in the hands of a vet, who will Fed-Ex (yes, I said Fed-Ex) the bat to Madison, where it will be tested for rabies. We should know later today whether or not Cal needs to get a rabies shot. I'm very glad to have it out of our mini-fridge and Cal will be disinfecting the whole thing as soon as possible!!!! We do feel bad about the poor bat - he was only trying to take a nap and was needlessly disturbed.

It's been a fun weekend with all sorts of bat jokes (my Dad said he was "Batman" this morning because he was the one responsible for taking the bat to the vet), and we've all had a good laugh over the story, but thank you for all your prayers! They are much appreciated! I'll keep you updated!

-- Posted by koeller77 on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 9:47 AM

P.S. I do not call my mother 75 times a day. Okay, maybe sometimes it's at least 5, but that's only on the weekends!!!

-- Posted by koeller77 on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 9:47 AM

All's well that ends well, someone once said. :)

We'll pray that Shakespeare was prophetic.

-- Posted by slater41 on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 12:23 PM

ydnasllew:

Minor correction to my mother's story. We were never actually seen by a nurse at the ER. The bat didn't manage to break the skin, so the most they could have done was wash it vigorously (which we did at home). We only spoke with the ER staff informally and then spoke to the state Health Department in an office, so they never actually admitted Cal to the ER. So they said they would call it a "consult" and not bill our insurance.

Oh, and the rabies vaccine "shortage" is not just in our area. It's actually country-wide - check out this link: http://www.webmd.com/news/20080626/rabie...

-- Posted by koeller77 on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 1:22 PM

I see that my daughter has corrected my error in reporting how the ER visit went. Now I'd like a description of the box in which the ex-bat was transported via FEDEX. At least, I assume it was by then an ex-bat, of course. The more I hear, the weirder the entire story gets. Just your average Labor Day weekend story, I guess :)

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Tue, Sep 2, 2008, at 1:32 PM

UPDATE!

Hello - happy ending to this story. The bat tested negative for rabies, so Cal will not have to endure the rabies vaccine. No foaming at the mouth or hanging upside down for him!

Thank you for all your prayers!

Sara :-)

-- Posted by koeller77 on Wed, Sep 3, 2008, at 2:55 PM

And the rest of the story....

The veterinarian who received the bat and forwarded it to the health department in Madison for testing reported she received a small reprimand today from the health department.

The reason?

The bat, which spent at least 48 hours in a plastic bag in a mini-refrigerator before being taken to the vet on Tuesday and FEDEX'ed to Madison, arrived there ALIVE!

Dear readers, if you ever have reason to think we make things up just to print interesting stories, I submit this episode as incontrovertible proof we need not do so.

You just can't make this stuff up. :)

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Fri, Sep 5, 2008, at 5:24 PM

Kathy, I hated to see this story end, probably not as much as the bat. I am hoping that you and Sara will dredge your memories and come up with just one more chuckle provoking detail.

-- Posted by Oklahoma Reader on Sat, Sep 6, 2008, at 12:25 AM

OK Reader -

The only other detail I have for you is what my husband calls the "no good deed goes unpunished" portion of the story.

After having agreed to kill the bat ourselves, store it, and wait nearly a week (the Health Dept. didn't call us to say the bat was negative until Thursday after telling Calvin on Wednesday that they couldn't find his file) - on Friday, we received a bill from the vet's office for Fed-Exing the (apparantly alive) bat!

While I agree that the vet shouldn't have to pay for the Fed-Ex fees...we will be submitting the bill to the health department for payment. After all, we could have just left the potential rabid bat go free and let our insurance pay for the rabies shots! And as Mom points out...there is that part about having to kill & STORE the bat ourselves!!!

Glad you've enjoyed the "story"...it's certainly provided a week's worth of entertainment for us & my coworkers!!!

Sara :-)

-- Posted by koeller77 on Mon, Sep 8, 2008, at 10:10 AM

Just one final bit of information to wrap this up. The way to dispose of a bat without damaging its head, I've been informed, is to drown it. How best to convince the bat to jump into the water so you can hold its head under water until it expires remains an open question.

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Thu, Sep 18, 2008, at 10:28 PM

Kathy...I was just wondering how did everything work out? I trust the bat was not rabid?

By the way, we have fruit eating bats in Australia that are huge. They look like they have about a 3 foot wing span and they look like something right out of the old Bella Lugosi movies, but in fact they are quite harmless. They are sometimes refered to as Flying Foxes and unlike every other bat I have ever seen, these bats live in trees rather than caves. My Aussie wife thinks that unlike other bats, they are "cute." However, they just look like big vampire bats to me. My wife also tells me they are the only bats in the World that, much like our Kangaroos, are marsupial -- that is they have a pouch -- however, I have not been able to find any objective sources that either confirm or deny that.

Here is a link that talks about this the general family of this type of bat and will give you a good description of them.

http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_7615...

I thought you might find that interesting.

-- Posted by news across on Sat, Sep 20, 2008, at 1:38 AM

news across: Indeed, the bat tested negative, for which we're all very grateful. And we were told the best way to execute the bat would have been to drown it, which nobody mentioned at the time.

Thanks for the link, which included a picture - I have to agree with your wife that they're kind of cute!

Years and years ago, I was sitting poolside with friends after dark, when I noticed birds flying around and remarked that I thought birds didn't fly at night, to which one of the group replied, "Oh, those aren't birds - those are bats!" That was the end of sitting around the pool after dark for me!!

-- Posted by Kathy Fairchild on Sat, Sep 20, 2008, at 7:08 AM

Newsacross -

Okay, well, except for those ugly nasty wings, yes, they're kinda cute. Of course, I thought our bat was kinda cute, too, except for the potential rabies thing!

-- Posted by koeller77 on Wed, Sep 24, 2008, at 10:53 AM


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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.
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