Day 174: Rabies, Scabies, Porcupine Babies

Ok then, so after being bitten by that stupid ginger dog, the following 24 hours turned into a roller coaster ride of emotions. I was nervous, concerned, scared, worried, all because of one stupid bite. I don’t think it could even be considered a bite, the dog nipped the end of my finger. The result of which saw me visiting a hospital (don’t worry mum, it all worked out fine), so join me as I explain the process you have to go through after a vicious dog attack in a foreign country…

• The day started off bad and continued to do so until around 8pm. Because we always have the windows open at night, in an attempt to make our sweat box cool, we can hear everything when the world comes to life in the mornings. On this particular morning it was a bloody Japanese family across the way. As I’ve said before, for some unknown reason, they feel the need to shout at each other to converse, even if they’re only two feet apart. Sarah getting angry at them, jumped out of bed and slammed all the windows shut. We got all of 20 minutes sleep before a rooster started screaming its head off. Then when it wasn’t the rooster, it was the insects in the trees, vibrating their wings in an orchestral fashion. “YOU WIN WORLD!” Sarah must have thought, as she soon got up to start the day. Then she dragged both me and the crazy haired Danish girl out of bed too.

• The only place that had good Internet near us was the Cozy Boat restaurant. Much to Sarah’s disappointment, that’s where we went for breakfast. We were all feeling a little delicate from the night before as we struggled down our food, during which time I asked Sarah to look up the symptoms of rabies. The dog bite (or nip) was probably nothing to worry about, but I had no vaccines against it, and thought it best to play it safe. After much studying, we paid a visit to a nearby pharmacy.

• The lady behind the counter told us what we already knew, telling us how to keep it clean using the products we’d already purchased. We then asked about the jabs, to which she informed us of a nearby hospital that stocked them. We thanked her and made our way to the building. I felt bad about the whole thing, Sarah and Anna were looking forward to a day of sunbathing, and now they were joining me instead.

• Before visiting the hospital we decided to walk by the bar where I was bitten. There he was! The little ginger fluff ball was led down like butter wouldn’t melt, grooming himself. He was probably washing off the fresh blood of another poor victim. Unfortunately the bar was closed, and only Thai people were sat outside cooking food. We asked them if the dog belonged to anyone, to which they said “he’s been here a long time”. Chances are it did belong to one of them, but because we explained it had bitten me, nobody wanted to accept responsibility. At least we knew where it liked to stay, and we suggested returning at 6pm (when the bar was open) to speak with someone that understood English. We then headed to the hospital.

• It wasn’t a hospital as you’d imagine, it was more of a walk in clinic. There were several people working behind the desk, and they gave me a form to fill in, in order to see the doctor. I couldn’t physically hold the pen to do it myself, on accounts of being left handed and having been bitten there, so Sarah did it for me. They couldn’t quite understand why she had to do it for me, but I had no choice. When they were happy with the client card details, they ushered me to the doctor. It was strange because only the patient was allowed in. I eventually managed to get Sarah in with me when I lied to the doctor, saying that Sarah was a medical student who’d better understand the medical terminology. It was a lot to take in at once, he spoke good English, but when you have to concentrate on drug titles, doses, and the constant thought you might have rabies, things get jumbled quite quickly. The gist of what he was saying was I’d need 3 rabies vaccination jabs over a period of time. One straight away, another in 3 days, then a third in 7 days time. I’d only need three should the dog not die in less than 10 days time. If it should, then it would mean the canine had rabies, and I’d need 5 jabs to be fully clear.

Then the doctor gave us some terrible news. He explained how the health service suggest that people who have potentially contracted rabies should get something called Immunoglobulin. This was a very expensive treatment that worked alongside the rabies jab to eradicate the virus. It was a series of vials containing a substance made from human blood plasma. The plasma, processed from donated human blood, contains antibodies that protect the body against diseases. When you are given an immunoglobulin, your body uses antibodies from other people’s blood plasma to help prevent illness. And even though immunoglobulins are obtained from blood, they are purified so that they can’t pass on diseases to the person who receives them. The price varied depending on how many vials you’d need, as it was based on body weight. Because at the time of my visit I was 75 kilos, it meant I’d need 5 vials, each costing £200. That was a total of £1000 – suddenly I was happy for losing all that weight. Because we were unsure if our travel insurance would cover it, I left it, and only had the first of my three jabs.

The doctor then prescribed me some anti inflammatory tablets to help reduce the swelling in my fingertip. The cost of the visit was 1400 baht, just shy of £30. Which was a lot cheaper than England. Each rabies jab cost around £70, in Thailand they are only £16, not bad I think you’ll agree. Sarah was in the waiting room with Anna when I was getting pricked, when I returned she’d made an amusing observation. There were two guys that visited a doctor just before I saw mine, and while I was receiving my injection they had returned to reception. Sarah said she saw them come out with a sample of blood and a pot of urine, that’ll teach them for playing nooky with no protection won’t it!!

• After my jab we returned to our resort for a while, before deciding to go out for lunch. Because Sarah didn’t like the food, or the flies at Cosy Boat, we didn’t return. Instead we went to a restaurant on the beach. Sadly there was no Internet, which meant we couldn’t get ahold of Sarah’s parents to ask about our insurance, but they did sell great food. I enjoyed a really good pizza (which somehow arrived quicker than Sarah’s tuna sandwich), and it was then that I taught Anna a funny saying I’d heard:
“Pizza is a lot like sex, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good”.
She laughed, and after our meals we headed to Cosy for its Internet.

• There was a very relaxed atmosphere when we arrived, I say this because all the staff were led down on the benches. We ordered our fruit shakes simply by shouting over to anyone that wanted to listen. Sarah Skyped her parents, and got her dad to speak with the insurance company. While they were doing that, I Skyped my mum to give her the good news. She handled it well, even if she was just putting on a brave face to mask her concern. Sarah helped me to explain the process I was going through, and how there was very, vey little chance of me being infected. Eventually a message popped up from Sarah’s parents, and I had to say goodbye to my mum. They told us we were covered, and all I’d have to pay was £75 for the excess, the insurance would cover the rest. I quickly phoned mum back to tell her what was happening, then Sarah and I set off for the worst injection I have ever received.

• The people in the clinic remembered us from earlier that day, which cut out the time it would take to explain the situation again. Our insurance said if we could get to a state hospital then it would be easier for the transaction to go through, as the hospital could take the money straight from the insurance company instead of my credit card. Unfortunately the clinic wasn’t a state hospital, the nearest one was Phangan, but they didn’t stock the immune globulin, so it meant we’d have to go through the clinic regardless. For the jab to be most effective it had to be issued within 24 hours of the bite, we had 2 hours left before that time was up, so there was no way we could have made it to Phangan in time anyway. The receptionist, who turned out to be a nurse, walked me through the door and told me to take a seat on the bed. She disappeared for a few minutes, then returned with a trolley, and an assistant. Atop the trolley was a metal tray containing a needle, it was filled with at least 2 inches (in not sure how many fluid ounces that is) of Immunoglobulin. She then said to me “I think it’s best if you lie down for this”, not wanting to make a fuss, I did as instructed and rested my hand on the tray beside me. Her assistant held down my wrist with one hand, then placed her other hand in mine. The nurse bent the needle to one side by pressing it firmly against the sterile cotton wool, then without any countdown, she shoved it straight into the side of my infected finger.

“Urghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh”, was all I could say as I felt the needle inside my fingertip and the liquid filling it. I must have been a glutton for punishment, because I couldn’t avert my gaze when it pierced my skin. The reason it hurt so much was due to all the nerve endings located there, and unlike the shoulder, there was nowhere for the liquid to go. I could physically see my finger swell in size as more and more of the liquid was squirted in. She took about 2 minutes dispensing it, then moved on to the next spot. Before going in, I mentioned to the doctor that the mark on my knuckle might have also been caused by the dogs teeth. Because he was in the room when she withdrew the needle from my fingertip, he brought up the point. With all three of them looking at me, he asked, “do you think that was caused by the dog?” After the extreme pain I had just been through, I contemplated saying no, but thought it best to fess up, and she stabbed me once again, right in the knuckle. I saw the skin manipulate around the needle, but it wasn’t half as painful as the fingertip.

I had to be injected 3 more times before all the liquid was gone. I had one in my left shoulder, and one in each butt cheek. They were a walk in the park by comparison, except for my left butt cheek, I’m pretty sure she hit a nerve on that one. Also, I had quite the audience when it came time for me to get my white bits out. Pretty much all the women from behind reception, and the doctor were looking on as I pulled down my shorts. The one woman (who I’m pretty sure was a man) even giggled at the colour difference between my back and arse. My finger throbbed for a good half an hour afterwards, but I was so happy that she injected my finger first. If I had to describe the pain, I’d compare it to the sensation of something shooting underneath your fingernail, the only difference was the sensation lasted a lot longer. But it was by far the worst pain I’d felt medically. The whole process lasted 10 minutes, and by the end, I felt as though I had been raped by a needle. The lady didn’t hang about between the jabs, as soon as I was in the right position she was there with her little prick in hand! When she was done, I made the joke that I was about to get stung one more time when I had to pay. As I sat on the sofa in the waiting room, Sarah became my hero. She handled all the insurance details, even taking the phone call when they phoned through. All that was left to do was pay. The cost was 45,000 baht, less 10% for a cash payment.

The insurance wanted us to try and get the price down, because £1000 seemed like an extortionate amount of money to them. The lady told us she could only do 10% and that was it. So off I went to try and withdraw 40,500 baht from an ATM. No machine would dispense it, either because the amount was too high for a single withdraw, or because the machine didn’t stock that much money. So I had no choice but to pay by credit card, with a slightly lesser discount of 7%. The transaction went through fine, and we hands over the receipt from earlier, along with the new one, so they could send it off to the insurance. When the transaction was finalised, the insurance would then reimburse me my money. When we left, the pain in my finger had subsided, and all I wanted was a coke.

• We visited the 7Eleven to fulfil my fantasy, then returned to the bar from earlier. The time was getting on for 7pm by this point, and there were two English speaking guys behind the counter. We explained the mental situation, and how we’d need them to email us in 10 days time to tell us if the dog was still alive. The b****** was still at the bar, this time he was led on the floor relaxing. The guys informed us the dog is mental, and we weren’t the first people to say they’ve been bitten by him. One of the guys explained how he’s been working there for a couple years, and in that time the dog has tried to bite his face on several occasions. It got worse when he said the dog attacks other dogs, people on bikes, and has been known to chase humans down the street. But on the same breath he explained the dog’s not always aggressive, and can be quite peaceful. What a mercurial mutt. If that dog was in England, it would have been destroyed long ago. We also found out the dog was a stray, which made me very grateful to have received the injections. Otherwise I’d have been panicking, especially after finding out it attacks other dogs (it could have picked up any infection that way). I took a picture of the beast from a safe distance, just so you guys could see my attacker, then we returned to our resort.

• We booked up one more night, then I gave my mum a quick call to tell her the good news, to which she was elated. I explained to her that if I were to give advice to any newbie traveller, it would be to spend the money on the rabies jabs. Over the period of the day we had heard stories from countless people about dog attacks. Before Sarah and I left England we always said, “that’s ok, if there are any rabid animals we just won’t go near them”, turns out you don’t need to. Some of the stories we had heard involved people running on the beaches, and out of nowhere dogs would chase them and bite them. Then there were other stories of people on scooters that received a drive by bite. And the worst one was from an Australian woman at our resort, she told us a story from her last visit to Thailand. It involved a friend of hers, who at the time, who was scheduled to fly home the next day. While they were sat on the beach enjoying an evening meal the night before, a dog wandered over and randomly nipped his leg. He then had to go through the same procedure as me, narrowly catching his flight home. So moral of the story guys:
“Get a rabies shot, because bitches be crazy… And dogs too”.

• After the phone call, I returned to the room like a human pincushion. Because I couldn’t use my hand properly I had to get Sarah to help me shower, it’s not like the movies folks. It mostly involved me being sprayed in the face, and getting soap in the eyes. Though that could be because Sarah likes to mess about all the time. I managed to dry and dress myself though, and when we were ready we headed out for food.

• We went to a new place for the last meal of the day, where I enjoyed a really creamy Massaman curry. Afterwards, we concluded our night with a lady boy cabaret show.

• Anna had been to this show during her last visit, and told us it was something we HAD to see. As soon as we sat on the padded bench in front of the stage, a man came over with a drinks menu. It was without a doubt the most amount of money I’d ever paid for a canned beverage. £3-£4 for a can of peach flavoured iced tea, I guess it was because they didn’t charge an entrance fee for the show, so they were making back the money that way. After sitting for 15 minutes, the strobe lights flickered to life, and the music began to play. Out they came one by one, all dressed as you’d imagine, large feathers in their hair, flamboyant dresses, and over the top dance routines. As the night went on, they took it in turns to dress like their favourite celebrity divas, and mimed their songs. We saw Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, and the Dream Girls to name but a few. Near the end of the show they came around with a hat for tips, and requested three men from the audience to take part in their “special show”. Sarah tried to encourage me to go up, but I didn’t want to. All of a sudden “sorry for party rockin'”, by LMFAO blared from the speakers, and the curtains opened. Out came the three male volunteers dressed as women. They danced around to the audiences cheers, and that was the end of the cabaret. It was then happy hour at the bar, and the audience could have their photos taken with the woMEN.

• Sarah’s eyes were wide open, and she was hopping about all over the place like an excitable child. So of course she wanted to have her picture taken with as many of them as she could. It took a while to leave the building, because every time Sarah spotted another lady boy, she ran over and asked if she could get a picture. The girl had drained the battery on my phone where she’d taken so many pictures and videos of the show. Then Sarah said something I thought I’d never hear her say, “this was better than wicked!”. Wicked is Sarah’s favourite musical, but now she’d seen a bunch of men dressed as women dancing, smiling, and gyrating to all her favourite songs, she had found a new favourite. On the walk home I was left feeling slightly confused. I couldn’t figure out how men were able to look so pretty, or how they managed to gain bodies capable of making any woman jealous, and add to the mix their breasts which they constantly had on show, and I seriously had to rethink my sexual orientation. JUST JOKING, I am a fan of boobies, but only on women, besides, the men’s nipples were all over the place from the surgery.

• Back at our room Anna was the first to fall asleep. I chose to leave the blog for the following day, as I was too busy trying to figure out the secrets of the universe on my Alchemy game. I called it a night around 1am, but I was unable to sleep when Sarah kept prodding my nose with her foot. She chose to stay up reading some raunchy/weird book that Anna lent her (a book which took her only 2 days to complete). Eventually I got off to sleep, and I could rest easy knowing I wouldn’t get rabies. I don’t know if it was all the drugs in my system or not, but I was out for the count. The next thing I remembered was waking up early morning to the sound of a pleasant rooster.

There you have it ladies and gentlemen, I promised you something of worth, it’s just a shame it could have been at the expense of my life. But after 24 hours of panic and fear, and 6 injections of various drugs, I am fine. All that hassle from a bite no bigger than a paper cut. I hope you enjoyed this post, it took me bloody ages to write it. And the worst thing about all this, I can’t drink because of the anti inflammatories, THAT’S ALL THERE IS TO DO ON THE ISLANDS! If that dog doesn’t die after 10 days, it’s going to wish it did!!!!!

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