I used to have a couple pair of big yellow rubber gloves that I used for cleaning up—one pair for doing the dishes and another for when I would use harsh chemicals to wash the bathroom or kitchen counters. I get dry skin easily, you see. The problem with big yellow rubber gloves is that water gets in them and over time they start to mould on the inside. This is the reason that I started buying disposable nitrile gloves for these sorts of tasks.
Nitrile gloves fall into that weird category of things that doctors and nurses carry around, that you wouldn’t expect normal people to have, but that anyone can just buy without a licence or a prescription or anything.
Here are some other things that fall into that category:
Blood pressure cuffs
This is creepy to me in the “impersonate a medical professional” sort of way.
Anyway, last week I was thinking about this while I was in the middle of cleaning up the kitchen. I received an email and went to check it without taking the gloves off. This is why Alain found me sitting in the living room typing at my computer, wearing blue nitrile gloves and humming the theme to Dexter all while smiling like an idiot.
She took my temperature, blood pressure and heart rate.
“You have a fever, Mr. Carlisle,” she told me, struggling with my last name (French Canadians have a hard time figuring out the silent S), “When you blow your nose, does the phlegm have any colour?”
“Yes, in fact. It’s black.”
“Black?” she asked, surprised.
You know that you have something good when your symptoms shock the ER doctor. I blew my nose and proved it to her.
I sat in the waiting room until another doctor came to see me, and pronounced that I had pink eye, and was about to send me on my way when I asked if the pink eye would explain the fever that I had.
“Fever?” she asked. That’s two ER doctors that I shocked.
She started feeling around my skull at that point, seeing where it hurt and didn’t, and decided to send me for a CT scan. I dripped my pink-eye tears all over the CT machine. I’m sure that the next 5 patients to use it will get infected, thanks to me.
When the results came back, she told me that I had broken my right orbital floor, and the tissues surrounding my eye were actually falling down into my sinus. That would explain the fever, sore throat, and the blood in my phlegm. There wasn’t any bone supporting my right eye, so it was literally falling through my face. I would need surgery.
I was sent to see an ophthalmologist, who told me that my right eye had fallen about 3mm from where it should be. On the upside though, he told me that I still have 20/20 vision, and that there’s no nerve damage or damage to my retina. The only problem is the broken bone and the pink eye.
I was sent to see the surgeons who were going to fix my face, and they sent me home for a week and a half, to let the infection go away, so that they don’t let it get inside my skull. On Friday, August 6th, I had my surgery, and despite my specific instructions that they replace my right eye with a Borg-style implant, they only put a metal plate in my skull, to fix the bone, and put my eye right back where it should be. I will make a full recovery and require no bionic implants at all.
The swelling has gone down almost entirely, and I’m feeling good. I think they must have made the incision into my head somewhere inside my eyelid, so there won’t even be a scar.
There were only two really scary parts about this whole thing:
1. When I am put on morphine, I have hallucinations. Not really bad ones, but I consistently have them. This time, I seriously believed that if I stopped consciously thinking about my breathing, then I would stop breathing, and probably die. I was very afraid to go to sleep.
2. When I mentioned to the doctors that I’m a MA bioethics student at McGill, they had a sort of “we better be on our best behaviour now” thing going on, which scared me. What do they think they can normally get away with, that they can’t with a bioethicist watching?
For some people, it’s that terrible stop-motion animated feature about Rudolph-the-red-nosed-reindeer, and for others it’s one of the millions of adaptations of A Christmas Carol. In the same way that there are certain smells or decorations or sounds that remind different people of Christmas, there are movies that do the same thing. It’s almost Pavlovian.
But for me and my family (except for my older sister, who likes to pretend she doesn’t like it) our favourite film to watch at Christmas-time is Little Shop of Horrors.
Five points for whoever can give me the weirdest true Christmas tradition that their family regularly observes. It has to be something real, and it has to be something that is done regularly.
I just remembered why it is that I posted my review of District 9 under bioethics.
[There is a medium-grade spoiler in this post, so if you want to know nothing about the film before you see it, stop reading.]
I realised while watching the movie that my bioethical training has been having an effect on me. There is a scene toward the beginning of the film, where the main character is about to be cut up and his organs harvested for scientific experiments, against his will, while he is still conscious. When I saw that, I was struck with the horror of the idea of that happening to someone, but in my mind, all my objections were couched in the language of academic bioethics:
“He has not given informed consent for this research!”
“They are breaking the Dead Donor Rule!”
“That action is contrary to all four of Beauchamp and Childress’s principles of medical ethics!”
If you can name all four of Beauchamp and Childress’s principles, then you get 8 points. Two for each one.
I did some research for my final paper in my bioethical theory course recently. I was going to write a paper defending the disaggregation of death. It turns out that Halevy and Brody (1993) already wrote the paper that I meant to, and did a better job than I would have.
I think I was able to salvage it, though. I’m writing a paper that uses the Halevy and Brody as a source, but takes up a different question, namely, When is it appropriate to bring in organ donation policy considerations when justifying a definition of death?
I’m actually feeling happier about this paper topic than the last one, anyway. I have more to say about this topic, and I think my abstract is ready for Wednesday!