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Thread: Help Needed for the Most Absurd Case of Rabies Phobia You'll Ever Hear

  1. #1

    Help Needed for the Most Absurd Case of Rabies Phobia You'll Ever Hear

    Now, I may be new here, but I've done some browsing around these threads - I know the title is certainly quite a big thing to live up to with all the stories of ninja bats and what have you. Let me introduce myself first: You can call me Marvin (like the Paranoid Android from Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I may be no android, nor is Marvin my real name, but I fit the paranoid bill to a tee), and I am a bona fide health anxiety sufferer. And I may just be the craziest one you'll ever meet - I was in the ER four days ago because I thought the cartilage beneath my Adam's Apple was a thyroid tumor, for Heaven's sake! But my first post won't be something about my fear of every kind of cancer in the book or prion diseases or mother****ing Anthrax of all things (a short lived paranoia that only happened to me once, but I think it highlights how nutty I am pretty well). It's about the old classic, the deadliest virus known to man, the bane of hypochondriacs everywhere: Rabies.

    How is this the most absurd case of Rabies phobia, you may ask? Well, it does involve the good old invisible ninja-bat, but that barely scratches the surface. What if I told you that I've had the full post-exposure vaccine routine just three years ago, and I'm getting another two-dose post-exposure vaccine right now and I'm still afraid? You'd be right to think me mental. You'd be right to laugh at me, because I'm laughing at myself too even though my health anxiety about every conceivable illness makes my life a living hell. Onto the story first, and then my totally-definitely-not-irrational concerns (sarcasm alert!).

    It all started last night, a little bit past midnight. I was going for a late night jog around my backyard, headphones in, listening to some music. I feel a little prick on my right ankle. This kind of thing happens now and then, and what usually happens after is that I turn on my phone's flashlight, look for a bat on the ground, and when I don't find one I just get on with my life. Now, this time there's a problem though. I am already on edge about my health, in one of those good old "especially prone to health anxiety" moods because of other decidedly unrelated health things (more on that another time - given my nightmarish health anxiety I think you guys will be hearing from me again about many, many other things). So, I look for a bat with my flashlight, find nothing, and get on with my life. Easy enough, right? If a bat bit me on the ground, I'd have felt it lunging at me or seen it crawling on the ground or flying away, and given how low it was the idea of it swooping from the air is just out of the question. There was no bat. There was no bite. I saw no wound when I checked when I got back inside.

    So, despite knowing all of this, smash-cut to me in the ER (yeah, just a couple days after being there for something else - thank the Lord I'm insured pretty well but I'm still gonna be paying a fortune for this), telling them I got bit by a bat (they don't question it and even if they did I would have persisted). I wait in the waiting room for about three hours (not kidding!) and then I'm pulled in, given a booster in my right shoulder, and sent home. I'm going to be seen for another one on Tuesday. All is well, and I feel fine.

    But wait - there's more! I don't even know how in the **** I managed to get all worked up over this **** after being fully vaccinated just three years ago and receiving another vaccine just yesterday, but I can tell you the bat**** (no pun intended) reasons my anxiety-riddled brain invented to make me terrified. What if I'm immunocompromised so the vaccine won't give me antibodies (I am not immunocompromised)? What if because I have an ear-infection right now (which I do - diagnosed at an ENT and chronic) that my body won't make antibodies (I'm not a doctor but I am 99% sure this is not how the immune system works) from the vaccine? What if because I didn't get a lot of sleep that my immune system isn't making the antibodies (Correct me if I'm wrong but that's also not how the immune system works)? What if the vaccine gives me rabies (this has literally never happened in the entirety of human history)? I didn't wash my (nonexistent) wound at my house and they didn't wash it at the ER (probably because they couldn't see it because it was nonexistent), so what if that means there's too much of the virus for my (obviously weak and distracted - sarcasm again) immune system to fight it? What if the new anxiety meds I'm getting tomorrow interfere with the vaccine (no words for this one - give me a break, Marvin)? What if I was really bitten by a bat and I didn't see it because there were some leaves near by (more of a thin blanket than a pile, a bat could not hide in that, and I am certain I wasn't stepping in it anyway) and all of my other concerns are founded and I am going to die? Oh no, is that a tingling in my right leg?

    And then I tell myself, very rationally, that even if I was bitten by a bat (I absolutely wasn't) all of these other concerns are so ridiculous given my circumstances that if I actually died of rabies I'd leave behind a legacy in the world of medicine as one of the most anomalous human beings ever. My circumstances are so specific that if it did happen you all would probably hear about it and think "oh, hey, it's Marvin"! I couldn't even be mad at such a death, it'd make me infinitely more famous (at least among doctors) than I'd ever have any hope of being under normal circumstances. I know how irrational these fears are, but it's one thing to tell myself how irrational they are and another thing to be told by others. So, give me some reassurance, y'all. Some coping mechanisms too for when rational thoughts don't work, since I might need them.

    One final statement, just in case it changes the advice you'd like to give me. It may sound like I'm terribly afraid of the act of dying, but I'm not. I'm a rather religious guy, firm believer in God, and I know there's nothing to fear from death. The big guy's looking over me and he wouldn't let a scenario so absurd happen to anybody, frankly. I think the reason why I'm so worried about my life is because there's people, family and friends, who I don't want to leave behind even if I know we'll be reunited inevitably. I'm a young man, only 19, so I have a lot to leave behind at this age. Would there be coping mechanisms more fit for this kind of fear of death? I'd like to hear the usual "animals aren't ninjas, vaccines work" kind of things because even though I already know that hearing it from other people can do a lot of help. Still, other coping devices would he appreciated too.
    Last edited by Paranoid Android; 24-10-21 at 06:11.

  2. #2

    Re: Help Needed for the Most Absurd Case of Rabies Phobia You'll Ever Hear

    Are you being treated for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? I have had OCD for nearly 40 years and rabies is just the latest in a long line of obsessions for me. I could have written much of your post myself. Finally a couple years ago I started seeing an OCD therapist and learning about ERP therapy and am in a much better place mentally these days.

    I'm happy to offer some advice but it would help to know how familiar you are with the disorder and its treatment.

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