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Thread: Walkin' on rabies

  1. #1

    Walkin' on rabies

    Hi, new to the forum, but a veteran of the anxiety. I've had OCD for over 35 years but just got started on the rabies flavor a few years ago after a dog bit me and I read more than I ever should have about the disease. At the time I had a couple months of OCD-ish rabies anxiety, then it went away. Now I'm in the middle of a relapse of contamination fears, with rabies at center stage. I do feel I'm making progress as I've quit researching various disease-transmission scenarios and have moved into ways of combating what is clearly an anxiety issue. (No one on earth genuinely has the number of rabies exposures I've worried about in the last 4 weeks.) I've increased my SSRI, joined a local support group, and have my first-ever OCD therapy session next week. I've also taken some comfort in the advice here, especially this thread.

    However, I was just curious if anyone with rabies anxiety ever had this specific issue: I'm really afraid of hiking/walking/running and unwittingly stepping on a downed bat that recently died of rabies, getting still-infectious tissue or saliva on my shoes, and somehow transmitting the virus to myself or someone else via open wound, mucous membrane, etc. Now, I've come to the point where I acknowledge that although this is not impossible, it is infinitely less likely than the probability of me being killed in a car crash or kidnapped by terrorists on the way to the trailhead (risks I freely take). I am trying to learn to live with that uncertainty, like I live with so many other uncertainties. Unfortunately, I am still on edge whenever I'm outdoors (and I love the outdoors), and constantly check 'suspicious'-looking leaves and twigs in my path to make sure they're not bats. And let me tell you, a lot of leaves look like bats, at least to the anxious mind.

    I suspect the best ERP treatment for this is going hiking/running and not doing the compulsion of checking 'suspicious' objects, and I'm currently working on that. But if anyone has any other suggestions or encouraging words, I'd love to hear them. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Hi,

    I'm afraid I'm not going to be helpful with your query, but I can do the encouraging words; I genuinely wanted to congratulate you on your proactive approach to tackling your OCD and contamination fears. You really have taken ownership of the situation and deserve nothing but success as an outcome of your awareness and effort. I have to admit that this though -
    And let me tell you, a lot of leaves look like bats, at least to the anxious mind.
    ...did make me laugh...a lot!

  3. #3

    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Thanks - I wish I'd been more proactive years ago, as I've wasted a lot of time and energy with this disorder. Better late than never!

  4. #4

    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    I certainly respect any fear, but definitely wouldn't worry about this one unless you go out bare foot. From what I've read, the rabies virus seems like your typical fragile virus. First, your shoes would prevent a bat from biking you. For extra protection, you could always wear hiking boots to better protect your ankles so you know you're completely covered. Next, if you did somehow get the virus on your shoes, you would quickly walk it off. Either it would dry or come off onto the ground as you walked. Lastly, sunlight kills the virus, so just being outside would cook it fast, too.

    I've wondered about the random stepping on a bat thing from time to time but only worried about the chance for it to bite at that moment. That's why I like wearing boots. Eases my mind a lot. I had something scurry by my foot one day going in my house and worried for a second then realized nothing could get through my boot.

  5. #5

    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Thanks - your points are all valid, of course. In fact the rational part of me would say that even going barefoot is no big deal, as it would be easy to know that something unusual had been stepped on. (Barefoot hiking/running isn't my thing, but I know some people do it, and I've never heard "rabies from infectious stuff on the ground" as reason not to.)

    Funny story: Since my original post I went on a trail run and was doing pretty well ignoring the urges to investigate "bat-like" objects. Then at a junction I paused and watched a leaf fluttering down from a tree...which then leveled off and flew by at eye-level about 10 feet away. A bona fide bat! I've seen lots of bats during my time outdoors but this may have been the closest. I quickly fixed in my mind that there was no contact so my OCD wouldn't question it later, and that seems to have worked, as I look back on it as a cool wildlife sighting and not something to ruminate on for the next week. It's also a good reminder to quit worrying about the ground and watch where I'm going so I don't really run into something.

  6. #6
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    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    I look back on it as a cool wildlife sighting and not something to ruminate on for the next week.
    Good for you ! Such a great attitude. Nearly every bat sighting IS a cool wildlife sighting - unless you are trying to handle them, which is a BIG risk of course. As for the running barefoot, is that for real ? Shoes were invented for a reason, protection for our flimsy easily damaged human feet. I can't imagine why people would do that, I mean you'd not get very far before hurting yourself ?

  7. #7
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    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Whats your name about MothFir ? Just interested.

  8. #8

    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Oh yeah, it has a bit of a cult-like following: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barefoot_running

    There is validity to the argument that highly-engineered, cushioned running shoes can mask poor practice (stride length, 'landing' position of the foot, etc) that leads to chronic injuries, while a less-protected runner can tell that his/her technique is wrong right away. A lot of people have gotten into trouble going from shoes to barefoot overnight, though. Some people compromise with minimalist shoes.

    I like running on sandy beaches with no shoes, but otherwise like to have normal running shoes (rabies fears or not). I will say that after running a few times a week for almost twenty years I started to have some arch and achilles tendon issues, which I first treated with cushioned inserts. That felt better in the short term but the problem persisted. When I ditched the inserts and worked on improving my stride and posture, things improved for good. So I think there's something to be said against over-reliance on fancy shoes and orthotics.

    And some people even hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail barefoot! https://www.amazon.com/Barefoot-Sist.../dp/0811735303. I haven't read the book, but I'm guessing that stepping on rabid bats was not a problem they regularly encountered

    MothFir: I like moths, and I like fir trees, and MothFir made me think of a big furry moth...

  9. #9
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    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    I haven't read the book, but I'm guessing that stepping on rabid bats was not a problem they regularly encountered


    I'm guessing you are right !

    I've seen people in those minimalist shoes, and I get that, but I just think you could get cut to shreds on rocks and glass and things with nothing.

    I like moths, and I like fir trees, and MothFir made me think of a big furry moth...
    That's why I asked, as it made think the same and I'm a moth-lover.
    Last edited by Carys; 23-01-20 at 09:57.

  10. #10

    Re: Walkin' on rabies

    Cool - moths often get overshadowed by butterflies, but they’re actually more interesting (to me).

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