It started as an easy-going day at the park with the sun shining, the kids laughing, and the birds chirping. With no plans for the rest of the day, I couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful afternoon. That is, until someone showed up with their two dogs.
Following the proper protocol for strange dogs, my five year old son approached the owners and asked if he could pet the little one. “Of course. They’re super friendly,” replied the presumably responsible pet owner. As my son took a couple steps forward, a mother’s fear flashed so quickly before me. The larger dog lunged at my son’s throat, biting him across the face and on the neck. The pet owner’s response? Flee the situation faster than I could comfort my child.
Left with a scared and injured little boy and no dogs in sight, we took him to the emergency room immediately. After a quick exam and a few questions, the next step was clear: rabies vaccinations.
I was scared. I knew that they have come a long way and he would not be subjected to the horrors of multiple stomach injections that once saved so many lives, but I still was not sure what to expect.
Would it be painful? Would it be a lot of shots or just one? How much more pain would I have to witness my poor little man endure?
I learned that the series of shots has been drastically simplified. He would require 4 shots at varying intervals, in the thigh muscle followed by a blood test to ensure the titer was successfully strong in his blood. I still worried about side effects (which I am happy to report are extremely rare) and about how painful that big needle would be to such a tiny leg, but there were no other options. Either we began the series immediately, or we waited and hoped for the best. The choice was clear, especially since there had been recent reports of rabid dogs in the same area.
My son received his first shot a few days after the horrid park experience. It was a little painful but he was a trooper. The injection went directly into his thigh and then they needed to monitor him for less than an hour. Happy to report that there were no initial concerns, they sent us on our way to return in a few days.
The rest of the shots went just as well, with the exception of one where it was clearly a newer nurse in the learning stages. She injected the shot a little lower on the thigh than she should have and took the process slow, making it more painful than was necessary. But overall, my brave boy fared well and we felt truly blessed to have come so far in medical advancements.
The last step was the blood testing, which seemed like a breeze compared to the larger needles of the shots. He is rabies-free and completely healthy. The experience, though frightening, couldn’t have ended better.
If I were to give advice to any mother going through this situation it would be to research as much as you can before receiving the shots. Knowing exactly what was coming and what to look for in case things did not go well made the process much easier for me as well as my son since I could explain the procedure thoroughly. Never be afraid to speak up if you feel a nurse is too unqualified and never assume they have thorough experience in the area. Your child’s comfort and safety should always come first.
As long as you educate yourself and advocate for your child, the experience will go smoothly, bringing about peace of mind as you know your child is safe and healthy.