El Dia de la rata. (The day of the Rat)
Rats. Can’t say I’m a fan. Especially not when they attack. Which they did.
Exactly one year ago yesterday I was bitten by a rogue rodent while sleeping in the ATL. Waking to searing pain is one thing; waking to searing pain and then seeing your feral attacker make a hasty exit across a mahogany end table is quite another. It took a few minutes after I bolted upright for me to fully comprehend that I had just been a rat snack. (There was a giant cookie cake resting not 20 feet away. Munch on that fool.) As I tried to turn off the blood hose issuing from the puncture wounds on my toe, I began to think that this might be a sign. A pretty damn bad sign of things to come.
My birthday was less than 48 hours away. Oh did I forget to mention that? Yes, a very momentous birthday loomed large as I was being gnawed by the same species that gave us the bubonic plague. Hopes for a sensational year faded as I dumped a bottle of alcohol on my toe over a toilet.
I was taken to the emergency room a good 7 hours later because a) some people were less than concerned about my injuries and b) these same people were intent on dining out for breakfast. Eat first, save family member from imminent death later. It’s how they roll. When we finally arrived at the ER, the check-in nurse took me for a liar until I hoisted my mangled toe onto the counter. The look of horror on her face would have impressed Linda Blair. The doc charged with giving me a tetanus shot seemed to think my rat disease might be airborne and made every attempt not to touch me. I think he considered administering that tetanus shot javelin style from across the room.
They cleaned me, shot me, bandaged me, and sent me on my way saying, “We’ll let you know if you have rabies.” Awesome. There was a brief moment in which I actually prayed for rabies. My horrible bout with this dread disease would be the ultimate revenge on the people who refused to take me to the ER in an appropriate time frame (read: immediately). I would sue them in open court citing emotional distress and lack of medical attention: if the rabies had NOT been given time to percolate, none of this would have happened. They would be sentenced to paying my Saks Fifth Avenue credit card bill for all time.
I do not have rabies. Which is hugely lucky. Rabies is no party as I understand it. I did take a photo of the wounded toe a couple of weeks later. (Trust me, you didn’t want to see it in the immediate aftermath.)
In the weeks post attack, I worked the sympathy angle hard. I spent time limping, wincing in pain, and regaling anyone who would listen with the gory details of my harrowing and vicious assault. I also spent time trying to track down an ancient Confucian saying that might go something like, “kissed by rat, bring you much money in bank account.” Guess what? There aren’t any. Getting bitten by a vermin escapee from a nearby road construction site isn’t good luck. It’s just flat out nasty.
It’s been a year. I’ve had some therapy. I’m not really over it. I send periodic texts to the ATL people with photos of the slain toe and the hashtag #NeverForget.
My birthday is Thursday and, fingers crossed, it will be better than last year. I mean, could it be worse?? At the very least perhaps I can avoid encounters with both emergency rooms and disease-carrying mammals hell-bent on mayhem.