Thursday, December 10, 2009

things I've learned recently

I've had a run of less than optimal luck recently when it comes to health issues. Everything is fine now, but I think I've learned (or re-learned in some cases) some useful things.

If you're feeling a bit under the weather and don't know if you should go to work or not, here's a clue, don't. You're just going to cough on your hand, use a doorknob, and get someone like me sick who will curse you for being such an asshole.

It's a good idea to have things on hand in the pantry for times of sickness. I forgot this cardinal rule and was totally out of Gatorade or any of its generic knockoffs, and was subsequently too sick to go out and get some. Rehydration is of the utmost importance when you're pissing out your ass every 15 minutes, and the human body is quite bad at absorbing pure water. By accessing the sodium channels in the GI tract, water is absorbed much more readily.

Canned chicken broth is like a magic fucking bullet, and has an extended shelf life. After a few days of not being able to hold anything down, including water, a warm cup of this poultry flavored brine is the most sublime dinner treat ever. And, of course, the salt helps to rehydrate.

Rabies is a deadly disease, everyone knows this, but by the time you show symptoms you're fucked. If you actually show symptoms of having rabies the chances of dying are greater than 99.99%. If you take the vaccine prior to that the chances of survival are very good.

The modern vaccine is no where near as bad as old vaccine with the multitude of injections in the abdomen, however it is much more expensive at ~$1500. These days only five shots are needed: immunoglobin, and four rabies vaccine shots over two weeks (days 1, 3, 7, and 14). All are intramuscular (IM), and the the immunoglobin, the "first shot" is 6 x 2 mL vials for someone ~195 lbs. As a reference a typical vaccine booster shot is in the neighborhood of 1 mL in the arm. This shot is actually 3 or 4 big-ass, deep tissue shots (e.g. thigh or buttocks).

If you get bitten by a dog take the time right then to find out if the dog has had its shots. Don't assume that just because it's a healthy looking poodle-like dog in one of the richest neighborhoods in the US that everything is fine, and he/she must be healthy.

There are several ways to test for rabies in humans, but no individual test is sufficient by itself. One of the tests involves spinal fluid. I'll let your imagination run wild with that one.

If for some reason you get bitten and are stupid enough not to get the necessary information right then, and need to go back and find the dog more than two weeks later do it regardless of how unlikely the possibility of success seems. The kindness of strangers can be truly surprising sometimes.

If a dog were to have rabies such that its saliva were infectious the life expectancy for the animal is less than five days. Quarantine guidlines for animals is ten days, just to be sure. Therefore just getting to see the furry bastard walking around two weeks later is sufficient to clear a bite victim of being used as a pin cushion.