Rabies Talk

This morning, after a modestly long night shift, I was back at the hospital to give a lecture to a regional nursing symposium. These are quite well attended, and I am told they had about 195 pre-registered; from the crowd I saw, they had that and more.

A well-attended lecture

Oh, I was there after a night shift because I requested the wrong day off. I got the requested day off, but was too embarrased to make changes in the schedule to compensate for my screw up.

The topic of the talk was rabies, an ancient plague that is endemic here in Heaven (Texas, for those unfamiliar with geography). I enjoyed it, and hope the audience did too.

I am chagrined, though, that I forgot to tell my most humanizing story about rabies (I don’t seem very human, but I can be, or at least I have a story that makes me sound human).

When I was but a pup, somewhere in the 11-13 range, I saw a movie that had a subplot about a person who contracted rabies from an infected wild animal. It scared me witless. I was terrified I would get rabies, and be turned into the foaming, convulsive person on the screen. I mean, I was scared in the way that kids are: it was real to me, completely stupid in retrospect, and doesn’t make the fear then less real.

I was a geek even then, so I read about rabies in the World Book Encyclopedia, circa 1968(?). I read about hydrophobia (fear of water) being a hallmark sign of the disease, but was not calmed. However, I did decide on a test: if I could drink water I was demonstrably not hydrophobic, and therefore did not have rabies!

I think I got up every night for 2 weeks, scared I had the dread rabies, and poured myself a Dixie cup of water from the bathroom sink. Drinking it, I was relieved I had dodged the bullet that night, and would see morning. Silly now, but vital then.

Anyway, I enjoy speaking (I get to release my inner smart-ass) and the photo is of the crowd for the speaker who followed my warmup act.

Thanks for coming!


  1. When I think of rabies, I think of the following things:
    1) Racoons in my neighborhood when I was little & terrified I’d get bit by them
    2) That book, by that author, about slavery, where the lead character gets rabies
    3) The scene in To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus shoots the rabid dog.

    Oh, yeah, and then there were those mennonite children playing with the rabid cat in their driveway. The cat was killed & sent off to pathology and it was positive. The kids all got shots.

  2. The three movies I found clips of that feature rabid animals: To Kill a Mockingbird, Old Yeller, and Cujo.

    Of course, the computer I played my talk on didn’t play my video. Nuts.

  3. “Their Eyes were Watching God” is the name of that book. I forgot about old yeller, never seen Cujo


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