Here I am trolling the internet for any and all information I can sponge up. I have officially diagnosed myself with Hydrophobophobia. On shot 3 of 5 suggested for Rabies Post-Exposure Prophylaxis. I have probably contacted Sanofi Pasteur (manufacturer of the vaccine I am getting, Imovax) more times than I care to admit, or they care to deal with, although, they have been so nice and helpful. That being said I have gotten mixed information from some of their nurses, something I probably wouldn't have even noticed had I not been calling them literally every day they have been open since I started RPEP.
Background, I live in a rural area at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the other night I was driving home and a raccoon was standing on the side of the road, a few yards down the road was a dog. Never having considered rabies, or had a fear of contracting it, I thought I should get out and check the poor dog's collar for the owners contact information. It is very cold here right now and has been snowing/raining and as a dog lover, I wanted to help. As I approached the dog it was shaking and went and just stared at me like it was hurt, I thought it might have been hit by a car even. Then I reached down to check it's old tattered collar, and by the time my hand got near it, BAM, it bit me on the hand. It jumped up, and it started growling and snarling some so I retreated back to the car., where I immediately used hand sanitizer on the wound.
After returning home I started thinking about seeing the raccoon and the way the dog looked and acted, and then Rabies entered my mind and the anxiety set in like nothing has ever caused anxiety before. It was late so I called the ER and asked if it would be alright to wait until morning to come in for treatment, they said that would be fine and to clean the wound well (I had cleaned it as soon as I got home). After a sleepless night of googling until I couldn't see straight, I was entirely freaked out.
I had a horrible experience at the ER the next day. The doctor was very rude and skeptical of my risk, she even went so far as to laugh at me and jokingly ask if the raccoon had bit me. After she contacted the CDC, they told her since the dog was still unavailable for quarantine, to start prophylaxis. The animal control was out looking for the dog, unsuccessfully. She told me they would start me on vaccine 1, and they would write me a prescription for the other 4 for me to take to my Primary Care for continuation of treatment. She then had the nurse administer the HRIG and the first vaccine of Imovax. She gave me a paper from the Nebraska Health Department Prophylaxis (....I live in TN...), and told me to call the number on there with any questions about the vaccine. After reading the paper, I had already learned all of its contents the night before with my research, to the point where both the doctor and the nurse told me I was more informed than they were on what to do, (which only fed my anxiety that supposed "health care professionals" didn't know what they were doing). The doctor then wrote the prescription for RabAVert, a vaccine made by a different manufacturer, and as the paper I was given explained, you are not supposed to substitute the other vaccine once the other was administered initially. I told the doctor that she needed to write the prescription for the same vaccine I was given. After going back and forth about not substituting it, if in fact I had been given Imovax, she finally agreed to get a new prescription. I asked her to be sure which vaccine I had been given, since the nurse didn't seem sure at all. They seemed annoyed that I doubted they knew what they were doing, but the only reason I doubted them was because they went back and forth on which one I was given initially, and they wrote the prescription for the one they decided I wasn't given, it was just really confusing. ANNNNND, they administered the HRIG only in my gleuts, which I had to get redone into the wound later after being advised by the CDC they were supposed to put as much as possible into the actual wound. Also the night after my first injection after talking to the Health Department and the CDC, I was advised to contact the doctor and make sure it was in my medical record that Imovax was administered. They directed my call to the nurse who just told me she was sure, and that she had gotten the last Imovax out of the fridge. She then told me later in the conversation she went and checked the fridge and both kinds were in there and she knew by the box so she was sure and hung up... What? I thought I got the last one that morning, how could both have been in there? So, I had my mom go to the hospital to inquire to see my medical record where she was met by a different nurse who said it was Imovax and we needed to stop and had a police officer escort her out, she is not an disruptive person and this was completely uncalled for. So I called and asked to speak to the doctor who had seen me, another nurse then told me there was no record of me being there that morning, no medical record for me at all. Then I was called back by someone at the hospital that apologized over and over and told me they dug the box out of the trash since I was the only one to have received the vaccine at the hospital that day... I then noticed on my release papers, they had someone else's name and information, and the dates to get the shots were not correct in accordance with vaccine guidelines (day 0,3,7,14, 28) she had them to be given on day 0,3,10,18, 31?!?!??!
So after that madness, I had the vaccines over-nighted to a pharmacy in the next town, the only one who could get Imovax. I was instructed that I would have to keep the temperature sensitive vaccine myself... So after getting the vaccine home (they had only ordered 1 of the 4 I was supposed to get, they had to again over-night the other 3, which wouldn't arrive until 2 days later due to a snow storm...), I stuck it in the fridge and ran out to get refrigerator thermometers so I would have an idea if the temperature was between 35-46 degrees. Not only that, I had to research how to keep a cooler the correct temperature during transport from the pharmacy, and to the doctor to get the injections.
The keeping of the vaccines has been driving me crazy, and Imovax told me it was bizarra the doctor had refused to keep them for me. The doctor AND the pharmacist told me not to worry about it, they just keep their vaccines in a normal fridge and it would be fine in my fridge. But if the vaccine freezes, it isn't as effective.
I also have this worry I could get rabies from the inactivated virus in the vaccine not being properly inactivated. I have been told over and over that it isn't possible, but, I doubt they would tell me even if there was the slightest risk. I have had side effects from the vaccine as well. General malaise, though my anxiety could be a factor, headaches, loss of appetite, pins and needles sensation, stomach cramps, and lots of discomfort at injection site. I have tachycardia, and this whole situation has made it worse. I feel on the brink of a heart attack and probably will until this is all over. I want to get serological testing to make sure my antibody titer is at the correct level after all the injections are done, but I doubt I will be able to since I am not immunocompromised. This has been a nightmare.
So my question, has anyone else gone through RPEP and experienced such intense anxiety? What was the outcome of the prophylaxis? Any side effects? Any idea of chance of contracting rabies from the vaccine, even slightest?
I am freaking out. I am also considering what to do about poor treatment at ER.