Avoiding Bats and Other Wellness Thoughts

Don't pick me up!

Don’t pick me up!

A week ago today, the weather in Orlando being simply delightful, my wife and I decided to have lunch under the oak trees in our backyard. We had a lovely time, right up until I made the fateful decision to open the patio umbrella. We didn’t really need the shade, but the umbrella looked like it could use an airing out. Why not crank it open for the rest of the day? Because there’s a bat in there, that’s why! Unfortunately, I was unaware of the bat

After a few turns of the crank, the bat fell out, striking my forearm on its way down, and landed on a chair. Whoa! Freak out time! Yes, I was a little freaked. I went inside to wash my arm and think abut the need for further evaluation. By the time I figured out that I should collect the bat, it had woken up and flown away. Hmm… What to do now? After some research on the internet, a call to the CDC/Florida exposure hotline, and a chat with the expert who answered, it was off to the emergency room for rabies prophylaxis.

Rabies shots are a little bit of an ordeal. I had three the first day, two in my rear end (protective antibodies) and one in the arm (the actual vaccine), with three more injections to come spaced out over two weeks. And the ER, where things happen extremely fast in true emergencies, can be an ordeal too when you’re not really sick. All in all it was about a four-hour evolution from leaving home to returning home with a sore butt and sore arm.

I spent another three and a half hours in the ER getting my second shot a few days later. For better or worse, three hours by yourself in a treatment room gives you some time to think. Fortunately, I was able to arrange for the last two injections to be administered at Centra Care, Florida Hospital’s urgent care centers. Today I was in and out in 12 minutes! One more shot next Saturday and I’m done. Whew, it will be nice to have this rabies thing behind me.

Of course I am trying to draw some lessons from the experience, #1 being – don’t let the bat hit you next time! If only it had missed me. Seriously, reflecting on the experience, I have come away with a couple of thoughts that relate to wellness. The bat incident messed up my plans for the weekend. My “to do” list didn’t get done. At the time, I was beginning to feel a little frustration about that, but then I asked myself, “How important is it anyway?” Not as important as getting the rabies prophylaxis.

If you’re like me, you’ve always got a to do list, and you never get done with it, then you stress over it. I’ve made up my mind never to be frustrated by that again. Things don’t have to be perfect around the house or the yard. As long as I get the most critical things done, I’m not going to sweat the small stuff. My wife follows a blogger on home decor whose motto is “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” Agreed.

The other thing that happened was, while I sat in the ER, I just sat. I didn’t think too much. I didn’t complain in my head. I just sat and relaxed. It was not unpleasant. I’m finding “just sitting” to be a good way for me practice contentment. For me it seems, at least sometimes, the just sitting must be enforced. Perhaps we could lead meditative retreats in the ER on slow days. Really, it was a fine place to work on contentment. (I find that airplanes are another fine place for this too.)

So it’s been a week of more experience, more learning, and more emotional growth – but I still wished the bat had missed!

Not what you want to see at your next doctor's visit

Not what you want to see at your next doctor’s visit


Update 10/31/15 – I got my final shot today.  Great service from CentraCare, literally 5 minutes from walking in to walking out.  Thank you, CentraCare staff.  Glad to cross “rabies post-exposure prophylaxis” off my bucket list!


  1. Peter, Had it actually bitten you or broken skin?

    • Peter Weiss says:

      No. At least I didn’t feel anything. I had one preexisting small area of abraded skin on my forearm. At first I was going to do nothing, but decided to call the hotline. The expert said that bat associated rabies cases have occurred without obvious skin disruption. Based on that, and the bat being unavailable, and there being no treatment for rabies, she said that if it were her, she would get the vaccine. Seemed very low risk to me as well, but I’d feel stupid if I got rabies and died because I didn’t want the immunization.

      • Very interesting … I did not know that about transfer without skin disruption. And yes … I don’t want die from being stupid either … good call!

        Thanks for all your posts! Really enjoy them.

        Blessings …

  2. Camille Murawski says:

    Scary! Apropos for Halloween week too. Glad you’re OK.

    • Peter Weiss says:

      Hi Camille. I didn’t think about the Halloween connection but you’re right. All’s well that ends well. So far so good.