People of Earth! A Quiz:
Which of the following items listed below are appropriate for insertion into the human vagina?
- A loofah
- Golf balls
- A tampon
If you selected “D,” congratulations! You, apparently, are in the minority. I’m betting you also own a thermometer and maybe even take a Motrin or two when you feel yucky. Again, this puts you in the minority.
You see, in the world of emergency medicine, there’s this massive wall of ignorance which must be scaled every. Single. Shift. It’s like Sisyphus and his rock, only dumber.
A patient comes to the ER to have their pain taken away, or to feel better, or to have whatever it is that is broken/torn/twisted/hanging off fixed. They tell us a story about their pain, and from this we glean information pertinent to their care. Often, we ask them questions so that we can better understand what exactly brought them to us; I can assure you, these are not hard questions. Examples of hard questions include: “How does language work?” or, “What happens to the human soul after death?” or even, “How long do I toast this Eggo waffle?” It is not, “Where do you hurt? Did you take anything for your pain? Have you ever felt this pain before?” although, based on patients’ replies, one would think that answering them correctly qualifies you for membership in the Mensa Society. A particularly tricky question, apparently, is: “When did your pain start?” Sometimes this elicits a glance at a watch, or a quizzical look at a spouse (“What time did that start, honey?”). More often than not, though, the reply is something like this: (usually accompanied by a slow rubbing of the head or chin) “Oh, just after I finished that barbecue at Jimmy’s.”
Aaaahhhh. Ok. So that narrows it down. After the barbecue at Jimmy’s. Perfect. And was said barbecue today? Or two months ago? Or was it in mother-effing 1985??
Sigh. Throw me a freakin’ bone here, people.
Recently, I was interviewing a female of child-bearing age in triage; she had complaints of abdominal pain. I asked whether she might be pregnant. Her response: “Oh, no. There’s no way I could be pregnant.”
Me: “Really? And why’s that?”
Patient: “Well they took my gallbladder out so I can’t have no more babies.”
Me: Literally struck dumb.
I did, however, briefly contemplate whether educating her about the female anatomy and conception was worth the expenditure of my own oxygen. Answer: nope.
Ignorance like this is our daily fare. Like hardened longshoremen, we endure its pounding, unrelenting, crushing waves. We tolerate it with the weariness of a mother. We bear it, because there is no alternative. We accept it because there truly is no end. Just when you think you have plumbed the depths of ignorance and stupidity, a patient plops down in your triage room and tells you that they *think* they have been struck by lighting. So you muster every teeny tiny bit of self control, successfully resisting the urge – indeed the desperate, consuming NEED – to strike them in the face, and instead politely inquire what, exactly, makes them think that they have been struck by a massive bolt of electricity from on high, considering that they have managed to walk into my work space under their own steam, and clutching a bag of Corn Nuts? Some sculptors work in bronze; others clay or steel. Our medium is more like pipe cleaners and dry pasta, maybe some yarn thrown in.
Which brings me to the little quiz at the beginning of this post. Yes, people. Someone actually did use a loofah (well, a piece of it, to be more precise) in lieu of a tampon. Apparently this is an acceptable alternative when you are in a pinch and all that’s left in the Tampax box is the little pamphlet about TSS. But, really, is this why a harmless marine sponge was torn from the loving embrace of its family, from its aquatic community, where it no doubt had hopes and dreams and a vibrant social life?? No, I say! Keep the loofahs out of your vaginas and put them where the good Lord intended – sitting in your shower soap dish, looking like a giant biscuit of Shredded Wheat. Save the loofahs!
And the garlic. Tasty. Rich in vitamin C. Perfect for warding off the Undead, or for adding a little zing to your pizza pie. Perhaps, though, not the best option for treating your yeast infection. Apparently this came as a surprise to a female patient who felt that popping a few cloves into the vaginal abyss would get rid of her persistent itch (and have the unintended bonus of making her smell like an italian restaurant at lunch rush). Which is weird, because I’ve read the ingredient list on the Monistat box, and NO WHERE did I see “garlic”…or shallot, onion, chive, leek, or any other member of the allium family. Garlic wants to be with its BFF butter, smeared all over a warm loaf of crusty bread. Your vag is not a loaf of crusty bread.
I’m not a golfer. I don’t go to the driving range (my astigmatism gets in the way) nor do I watch tournaments on tv (it always looks so hot, right? It makes me thirsty. It’s like I’m watching “Waterworld” but instead of Kevin Costner it’s Tiger Woods). I don’t know what a double bogey is, or an eagle, or a mulligan. I do, however, know that the good folks at Titleist certainly would appreciate it if you didn’t use their product to enhance your sex life.
Yes, you read that correctly.
An adventurous female patient generously allowed her partner to insert two Titleist golf balls into her lady parts. For fun. You know, in the sack. Cuz…who doesn’t want to sound like Yahtzee dice during intercourse? (I know I would. It might draw attention away from the persistent and dispiriting battle being waged between gravity and my boobs, a battle in which my boobs are the decided underdog). Anyway, it seems that, in lieu of post-coital cuddling, her golf-loving gentleman hit the bricks, leaving the patient to retrieve the vaginal sporting goods. So, she arrives at the ER where the doctor (a golfer himself), promptly removed them. Noting that they were Titleists (“most used ball at the U.S. Open”) and therefore of high quality, he gave them a thorough cleaning and took them home for a few holes over the weekend.
So yes, ER life: soul-crushing, relentless, breath-taking ignorance.
Also, free golf balls.