Thursday, August 29, 2013

I Feel Like We Live in a Bat Cave

Today we finished the fourth and final round of the rabies vaccine, and I am SO thankful it is over!  We have shied away from the normal (aggressive) vaccine schedule because of concern over the potentially harmful side effects (from definitively harmful ingredients), and so giving these tiny children such an intense vaccine has been incredibly hard on me.  Stressful, scary, emotionally trying, a huge exercise in trusting God.

All this trauma is due to bats.  Ridiculous bats who think the foam ceiling in our big "red room" is a great place to call home.  The house we currently live in is old, and not well-built, and has holes and crevices everywhere...and so we've had a lot of problems with critters of all kinds.  We first were introduced to the bat problem last November, but we were able to catch the bat and remove it, and didn't see more for several months.  We heard them in the ceiling, but assumed it was mice.  We now know better.

this is how I envision the space between the ceiling and the roof!

The bats, of course, decided that the perfect time to reintroduce themselves was during the 2 1/2 weeks that Owen was overseas and I was home alone with the children.  And they opted for the big-impact introduction by waking me at 3am flying low circles over my head.  I think there were two, but honestly, I'm just not sure; it was pretty disorienting and I woke in a frenzy!  The baby had been nursing, and so, of course, was lying next to me.

Over the next couple weeks, they continued to come out at night, flying circles through the house, but also seeking me out specifically as if to taunt me or stake their claim on this living space.  I would immediately follow them to try to catch them, but they always disappeared into thin air.  One night, I was successful in locating their nest entrance, which is in the corner of the ceiling above Owen's office...where he often works at night...c  r  e  e  p  y...
I was grossed out, for sure, and dedicated to finding a resolution to the problem.  However, until several people raised concerns about our health and safety, I have to admit I hadn't really thought about that.  I started researching about interactions with bats, and grew increasingly alarmed at what I read!  The rabies scare was especially alarming.  So, I decided it would be best to just go to the doctor to talk it over, but our regular family doctor doesn't deal with rabies cases, so they referred us to the ER.  I felt silly going to the ER for something that may not even be an issue, but we went with it--better safe than sorry, right?

why are these guys so cute??

The ER had to call the Health Department, and the director there had to interview me about our situation to determine our need (because they help pay for the vaccines)...They determined that we should get the vaccine to be safe, because:

Bats are huge carriers of rabies.  Bat bites and scratches can be completely indiscernible, and can occur while you're sleeping without you even knowing.  By the time symptoms of rabies start to appear (anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months), it's too late to treat, and it's always fatal.  Since the disease attacks your nervous system, there is no test that can determine if you have it, except post-mortem.  Therefore, the vaccine is recommended to anyone, especially children, who have found bats in their room while sleeping...I also read somewhere (not sure of the source) that bat feces, if handled, can cause paralysis and sudden death, and we do have their droppings around...But on the other side, it's an intense vaccine that carries a risk of neurological damage.

how I think of bats right now, haha
I really struggled with this decision.  It seemed like an impossible decision, like a gamble with my children's lives!  How can I choose between death or permanent handicap?  I lose them either way.  Obviously, that is a worst-case-scenario mindset...It's possible the bats we have in our house don't have rabies.  It's also possible that the bats never touched any of us.  We just don't know.  So after much wrestling, and frantic calls for support, I knew I couldn't bear to live the next 6 months in fear, not knowing if one day one (or more) of my children would show symptoms of rabies, and die painfully before my eyes with me being helpless to do anything.  Every cough or sniffle or headache from here on out would have me paralyzed with fear...I couldn't do it.  We placed ourselves in God's hands and have been praying like madmen that He will protect us from any adverse reactions.  So far, we've all seemed well, until tonight, when poor Soren kept waking from sleep screaming and writhing in pain, unable to be comforted!  The kids get the same dose as I do, so I can only imagine how it's affecting their little bodies!

I'm scared.  I feel helpless.  It's my job to protect these little treasures, and it's killing me that I can't!  And so God is teaching me the hard way, that I must trust that He loves them more and He is able to protect them.  I must, not out of legalism, to merely obey the command to "trust in the Lord;" I must, because it's the only way I will survive.  Surely the One who grew their bodies one cell at a time and breathed the life into their bodies is able to protect and sustain them.  His call to trust and faith, I'm realizing in my need, is less an order and more a kindness--a promise that He is able and willing to help.  I'm trying to remember that my awareness of the danger doesn't change His power to protect us.  He knows, even when I do not; He knew the bats were there long before I had any idea, and He protected us all along, before I knew to pray. 


  1. Angela, I am so sorry about this whole bat craziness. I would be so scared and concerned, too. Are they out of your house now for good? I pray for you and your kids, little Soren, especially, that they will be protected from any harm. It is hard to realize that we, as parents, are not able to completely protect them, but we know there is one who can. I pray for peace and health.

  2. Manuela, thank you for your prayers! I'm not sure if they are out or not, but we haven't seen any in several days, so we are hoping! I hope you all are well!