Rabies is not the way to go (part 3)

I rinsed with water from a hose. The clear imprint of teeth on my thigh would have made a dentist proud. But the wounds were also deep so they took a while to stop bleeding. Red streaks mixed with the water and dribbled down my leg and forearms.

After the wash, the Reshut boss, Ethan, brought me to the office beside the Tel Dan gift shop. I sat in a chair in my underwear. A woman with a bright face appeared in the door and joined the three men in green. Together they rummaged through the first aid box. Rubbing alcohol? The boss said no. Iodine? That was a possibility. They asked for my vote so I stood with the majority. Iodine it would be.

The first aid room beside the gift shop at Tel Dan.

The first aid room beside the gift shop at Tel Dan.

The woman pulled on plastic gloves. She twisted the cap off the the bottle and began the task of painting and scrubbing my wounds with a white pad. She smiled at lot. I winced a little. The solution stained my skin orange. The others watched with mild interest.

The conversation among the group wandered. I gathered that five people had been bitten here in their collective memory. Two by dogs, two by jackals, and one by a wolf.

"The wolf took meat."

Na'or grimaced.

I think this comment about the wolf was meant to be comforting, given the fact that I was merely perforated. Na'or had helped me by holding down the dog's head with his foot.

A few pats more and the bright-faced woman put the cap on the bottle. She taped on some gauze to make it look better. I put my clothes on. The boss issued orders.

Na'or, Shadi and me hopped in the Reshut truck. We drove to the hospital in Tsfat.

The sign at the entrance to Tel Dan.

The sign at the entrance to Tel Dan.

The security line to get into the car parking at the hospital was long, so we pulled into a space in a nearby alley and walked through on foot. I was no longer bleeding, but the leg of my pants was tattered and stained in a mix of red blood and orange iodine. I gimped along between my new friends in green. It was about a half-kilometer to the emergency entrance.

Inside, Shadi vigorously engaged the check-in desk. His energy however, could not overcome the system. In the the end it was decided that the hospital was not the place for us. We gimped back to the truck.

"To the clinic," Na'or said.

A few blocks later we found the public health facility. Shadi explained our situation to an administrator and the three of us were ushered to a side room. We received tetanus boosters and then sat for a while more. A grey woman with dyed hair and tired eyes cracked the door. She peered at me briefly. She closed the door again. Someone said that must have been the doctor. A nurse returned to give me a second shot. 

"For the kelevet," she said. "Just in case."

(I learned a new word that day. Kelev--or caleb--is the Semitic term for "dog." The derived form, kelevet, suggests something associated with dogs. In this case, "rabies.")

The rabies virus under a microscope. Image from  here.

The rabies virus under a microscope. Image from here.

"How will we know?" I asked.

"Don't worry. The procedure is very modern. Very scientific. We will examine the dog and call you."

I gave my phone number to the desk on the way out.

"Do I owe you anything?" I asked.

The administrator looked up something on the computer. She made a big face and showed teeth.

"The cost for treatment is four thousand shekels. But if someone tries to take that from you, I will kill them."

Na'or spoke with her again in Hebrew, briefly, then tipped his head toward the door. "Let's go."

We got in the truck and drove to the nearby town of Rosh Pinna. It was on the way back to Tel Dan. Shadi stopped on the side of the highway by a small hut. He checked his phone.

"You can catch the bus here to Tiberias." (This was where my stuff was.)


I clapped both Reshut men on the shoulders. We shook hands. I thanked them. 

"You saved my life," I said.

I caught up with Shadi today. It was a happy reunion!

I caught up with Shadi today. It was a happy reunion!

"No.” Na'or replied flatly. "You hung on."

I watched the two drive away, waving.

I sat down in the concrete hut and contemplated my predicament. I wondered what the rabies virus could be doing inside my body. I figured it wasn’t good. There was nothing I could do about it now. I tried to relax and slow my blood down.

A half an hour went by. Several busses went by, but none stopped.

I thought about hitchhiking to Tiberias, but quickly abandoned the thought. Who would pick up a homeless-looking man standing on the side of the highway with ripped pants, blood spatters, and orange skin? Maybe not even a bus.