Education Matters: Health pros went to bat for daughter

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

Twenty years ago, my family was completing the final leg of an East Coast vacation that had us visiting Disney World in Florida for three days — all expenses paid. We got as far as St. Augustine when my daughter, Meredith, complained of an intense pain in her lower abdomen.

I drove her to a hospital and — surprise, surprise — she had appendicitis.

I’ll spare you the details, but we never made it to Disney World, although we did get to know St. Augustine quite well while my daughter had her appendix removed there.

It has become a standing joke in the family when any one of us recalls that vacation, pining away, “And then there was Disney World …which we never got to see.”

Or, “We can only imagine what might have been.” (If that sounds even a tad cruel, I am happy to report that both my daughters have thick skins and marvelous senses of humor.)

Fast forward to this summer and a big family vacation to Lake Tahoe planned. Two days before departure, we were visited with another medical crisis, this one more unusual by far, again, involving my daughter Meredith. I’ll set the scene.

It’s nighttime, and from just outside her house comes a high-pitched squealing from an animal in obvious distress. She rushes out to see her cat with a mouthful of what looks to be a bird.

I should add here that my daughter has been, since about the age of 3, the patron saint of injured animals, always ready to render heroic efforts to save any endangered creature. Her instinct in this situation was the same as a little girl I seem to remember so many years ago who had a bond with all animals. She reached down to rescue the bird, only to find that the bird was a bat.

The bat bit the hand (twice) that was trying to help it. No blood drawn, no open wound of any kind, only the sensation of a bite.

It was enough, we found out quickly, that might require a series of rabies vaccinations, unless we were able to capture the bat and have it tested — which my son-in-law and I were able to do with the injured creature.

Chances are 95% that it wasn’t rabid, but we had to be sure. We put the little fellow in the garage in a cage with bars a half-inch apart. He had attached himself to a corner of the cage, and we figured he was retired for the evening.

To our surprise it managed an early exit, contorting its body in ways that we had not anticipated. There was no way now to determine if it had rabies, and if it did, what strain it was. My daughter would need to undergo a series of five vaccinations given at specific intervals, on the extreme off chance that she had contracted the disease.

Our family vacation to Tahoe looked to be fading fast. New arrangements and adjustments for everyone had to be made, and after her third series of shots, she was good to go for a week before the fourth one was due.

It almost put a kibosh on our plans, and of course there was plenty of kidding about a “vacation jinx” in the family. We also watched carefully for any change in appearance in our daughter, seeing as though she had been bitten by a vampire bat, and just to add to things, there was a full moon out.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank George at Verdugo Hills Hospital emergency room who saw a fellow human being in distress and helped her cut through a lot of red tape.

Thanks also to Lee at the Glendale Health Center for calming fears and helping an entire family get through this. With the cost of health care being so much in the news these days, it’s good to know that some of the most vital services rendered by health-care professionals, like a helpful, caring attitude, are free, and that there are still caring people who render it freely.

DAN KIMBER taught in the Glendale Unified School District for more than 30 years. He may be reached at

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