Category Archives: Medicine

Life in Memorial Medical Center

We have had a busy and tumultuous last ten days or so, and it continues.

Writer Princess spent two weekends ago in the hospital receiving IV antibiotics for an infection. She was released to recover at home, but she was right back last Saturday for full abdominal surgery to clean out an abscess. So Mrs. Poolman and I have been splitting up the hospital duty with Son-In-Law for the past four days. Never a dull moment.

I have not been a hospital patient myself since I had my tonsils removed when I was five years old. I barely remember that. Just as well. My experience with hospitalized family since then has me convinced the best thing you can do with a hospital stay is to avoid it.

I spent last night on the overnight shift with WP. I thought sleep and rest were supposed to be great healers? If so, why don’t hospital staffs let their patients sleep? I don’t think we went more than 20 minutes between people coming in and out of the room for one reason or another.  I certainly understand the need to bathe patients, but at five o’clock in the morning? Seriously?

Until late last night, WP was in an intermediate care unit with restricted visitors. So she has not been deluged by friends and other family. That was not the case last weekend. Why don’t people understand — with the possible exception of new mothers, people are in the hospital because they are sick or injured, not because they feel like hosting a party. If you visit, stay a few minutes and then LEAVE. It is not appropriate to pull up a chair, turn on the TV and order a pizza. (OK, I’m exaggerating a little here…about the pizza, that is.) At one point last weekend, I counted eight visitors in WP’s hospital room at one time. That is too much. (Mea culpa – Mrs. P and I should have done a better job at crowd control.) Note to hospital visitors – show the patient you care about them by visiting, and then show it even more by going home.

Morons, rednecks and dental hygienists

Several things caught my attention over the weekend.

Apparently people with green lasers are causing havoc with Coast Guard rescue helicopters in Myrtle Beach, S.C. They shine the lasers at the helicopters and mess with the pilots’ vision while they are flying at night. Probably a funny practical joke to the person with the laser. I would imagine it would be less so to the pilot.

Although the article doesn’t state it, I would strongly suspect the culprits of this kind of moronic amusement are probably also to young to vote. Don’t they have anything better to do? And, as always, where are the parents? Idiots!

And a special nod to some of the folks in Jackson, Mississippi, for reminding us once again why most of the rest of the country things you are a bunch of yahoos. After scheduling a wedding for a black couple at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs, the church changed its mind and forced them to schedule the wedding at another church. Why? Because some of the church members didn’t want a black couple to get married in their church.

This is so wrong on so many levels, it is just amazing. Seriously, what do you really think God would think of how you treated two of his children? You’re a church! You’re supposed to know better. The pastor said he moved the ceremony to accommodate the haters because he didn’t want any controversy in his congregation.  So how’s that working out for you Rev? Your flock is in USA Today looking like a bunch of redneck Klansmen. 

And finally, I learned something I didn’t know over the weekend. Some dental hygienists are paid all or partially on commission. How I got to be this old without knowing that, I don’t know. But then again, I don’t hang out with a lot of dentists either.

I know when I go to buy a car, the salesman is going to try to upsell me the extended warranty, the undercoating and anything else he or she can tag on. Forewarned is forearmed.  But if I go to my doctor and she tells me I need some kind of treatment, I take it that she is giving me her best medical advice. I thought dental offices were the same. Guess not. I think back on a fairly expensive plaque treatment I had last winter. That was recommended by the hygienist. In retrospect, I wonder if it was really needed, or did “the baby need new shoes?” It shines an entirely new light on dental services.  Hmmm.

A wonderful day at the beach

Living here on one of Savannah’s coastal barrier islands, Mrs. Poolman and I are only about a 15-mnute drive from the beaches on Tybee Island. We have always loved taking chairs and an umbrella and just hanging out at the beach with a book and a cooler of drinks. When Mrs. P and I first met, I was living in a beach-front house in Neptune Beach (suburban Jacksonville), Florida.  Ever since then, the joke has been that someday when we are rich and famous, we’ll get to return to the lifestyle we had when we didn’t have two nickels to rub together.

For some reason, we have let about half the 2012 beach season pass us by without our presence on the sand. Sunday we decided to change that. We headed out relatively early, around 10am, because that is the only way to get a parking space. We prefer the relatively less populated, residential section of the island, as opposed to the crowded, life-guarded, close-to-the-bathrooms section frequented by most beach visitors. Our friends Matt and Dana met us there.

Mrs. P and our little piece of heaven

We had one minor crisis, our nurses, Mrs. P and Dana handled well. The mother of a family seated near us came running up yelling that her 8 year old son had been stung by a jellyfish and she didn’t know what to do. “Do I need to take him to the hospital? I don’t know what to do!” Mrs. P reached into her bag and pulled out her bottle of Jellyfish Squish. She pretty much sprayed the kid all over his body and it seemed to help. Jellyfish Squish is a locally developed product that was originally tested by a couple of the scientists where I work. It is a lidocaine solution that works fairly well.

Once mom and son were calmed down, they packed up and headed off the beach, with the young son claiming “I’m never going in the water again!”

Although the high tide shortened the depth of the beach, we weren’t overly crowded. One bikini-clad young lady lay down on her towel directly in front of us. When she stood up to talk on her cell phone, I noticed that she had blotchy globs of sunscreen on her back. I mentioned to Mrs. P that the girl needed a boyfriend to rub the sunblock into the back. Mrs. P asked if I was thinking of volunteering my services. I said “no.” As noble as the gesture might be intended, I didn’t think either the girl or Mrs. P would approve. Mrs. P agreed completely, and suggested I stop worrying about the girl’s sunblock.

“Remember, I know where you sleep!”

Perils of an injury-prone childhood

My new blog friend, MJ Monaghan, recently wrote a post about “boys will be boys” accident he had when he was a child.

It reminded me of all the injuries and mishaps my brother and I had when we were children.  At the time, they didn’t seem to be so many or frequent, but in retrospect, we must have driven our parents crazy.  We were a walking (or not so walking) orthopedic ward.

My brother and I are the oldest of five children. When we were growing up, most of our mother’s time and attention was consumed by our three younger sisters.  Once we left the house in search of friends and activities, we were pretty much on our own, without the benefit or the burden of parental supervision.

We lived in a small and fairly isolated neighborhood that was surrounded by hills, woods and some old farm fields. There really wasn’t much opportunity to cause trouble. However, there were plenty of opportunities to cause damage to ourselves, and we took full advantage of them. From the time we were nine or ten to our early teens, we accumulated:

Me: Fractured arm, fractured foot, dislocated shoulder, stiches in my head (courtesy of a hammer wielded by my brother), and a cut leg that required stitches

Brother: Badly fractured humerus (upper arm), fractured finger, sprained ankle

These were all acquired in the course of playing sports, climbing trees or generally screwing around. Looking back on it, I wonder how many of those injuries started with someone saying, “I’ll bet you can’t…”

We kept our family physicians busy. In fact, one of our regular physicians was, not surprisingly, an orthopedic surgeon.

When I was in ninth grade, a bunch of us were “studio wrestling” in a friend’s front yard. One of our larger kids picked me up over his shoulder and dropped me. I landed on my right shoulder, It did not seem to be broken, but my arm just sort-of hung there. Seeing it was a Sunday, my mother suggested I go to school the next day and show the shoulder to the PE teacher/coach.

“Oh my God, son. You have a broken clavicle. Why haven’t you already been to a doctor?” he asked.

So I called Mom and gave her the report. She said she would call ahead to the orthopedic surgeon’s office. I should walk the few blocks down the street to his office and report to him. If needed, my father would come collect me later.

When I walked in the door, the receptionist just looked up and asked, “All right, Poolman, what did you do this time?” Let’s just say, we didn’t need an introduction.

As it turned out, I may have dislocated the shoulder, but it was back in place and there wasn’t much for him to do, except to tell me not to be throwing any balls around, or doing any studio wrestling for a while.  Eventually, my dad did come to collect me and, I assume, to pay the bill.

That was my last injury that required medical treatment until I was introduced to the joys and perils of motorcycle riding after I graduated from college. That is a story for another day.

So how ya doin’? Don’t ask.

My fellow blogger “Hubby Diaries” wrote a post this week totally abusing her husband for having a “man cold” or “man flu.”

I know that stories are legendary among our female companions of men turning into total babies at the first hint of a sniffle or cough. I hope I’m not one of those. I typically come down with one cold a year, which usually degenerates into bronchitis. I try to ignore it for several weeks in the expectation my immune system will do what it is supposed to do and just make it go away. (What’s the point of all those little antibodies if they’re not doing their job?) Eventually, I end up at the doctor’s office to get a prescription for an antibiotic.  When I do run a fever and feel lousy, I just snuggle down on the couch and apologize to Mrs. Poolman for being such poor company.

However, for those members of the gentle sex who like to make fun of their ailing partners, I have a question. Which is worse – the occasional “man flu baby” or the chronic “I’m always feeling bad” whiner?

None of my male-friends ever complains about the way they feel.

“Hey, man, what happened to you?”

“Well, I coughed up a lung and left it in the passenger seat of my car, but I still have one left so I’m cool. So, what d’ya think about the game last night?”

On the other hand, I know any number of women for whom complaining about aches, pains and discomforts is a way of life.

“Hey, Mary, how are you?”

“Oh, I haven’t slept well in a week. My back aches. My neck hurts. I may be coming down with a migraine. And I think my uterus fell out last night. You know my doctor says I have a very sensitive disposition.”

I have several friends with whom I am very careful to never ask how they are. It’s not that I don’t care. Well, maybe it is. It’s just that, unless someone really is seriously ill or injured, the expression, “How are you?” is just a casual greeting, not a request for a health inventory.

Whatever you do, you must never react or respond to the complaints. To do so would only encourage them and subject you to a lengthy health history and prognosis.

“I really think these are all symptoms of dengue fever. I may have only days to live.”

“So, do you guys want to catch a movie tonight, or what?”

Here’s to hoping your 2012 is a healthy one! To quote another blog-friend, Terri, “Life is good!”

Who thinks of these things?

There are times I see or hear about something and all I can think is “Who was the genius who thought of that?” Other times, the only thought that goes through my mind is “WTF?” This week, I ran across two items that, I think, fall into the second category.

Neuticles

“What are “neuticles?” you may ask.  According to the Web site, neuticals are “testicular implants for pets. Neuticles are available for canines, felines, equine, bulls or any pet which is neutered.”

Apparently, these are artificial “balls” that are implanted in a male animal after sterilization. Why would you need such a thing? Again the Web site has anticipated the natural question.

“Neuticles allows your pet to retain his natural look, self esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.”

And the practice isn’t limited to that family golden retriever.

“While canines and felines have been most popular, other pets have been Neuticled including prairie dogs, water buffalo, monkey’s and even rats!”

I have to this company credit. I think they have created a product to fulfill a market need that no one even knew existed.

Who would have thought that we needed artificial testicles so our pet prairie dogs don’t lose their self esteem? And people actually buy these things! Amazing.

Clowns Without Borders

While I’m normally hesitant to criticize someone trying to do a good thing, I’m not sure whether to laugh with or laugh at this group. I guess their hearts are in the right place.  The group sends “clowns”  (Cue Frank Sinatra.) around the world to refugee camps, natural disaster scenes and so on. They put on shows for the people there to lighten their day. It sounds like a noble idea. I imagine someone in a refugee camp or who has experienced a natural disaster might easily be in a foul mood. It would be quite understandable. I wonder though; if I were in a refugee camp, and I had the choice between a visitor with food, fresh water and medicine, or a clown with a rubber ball nose, I think I might go with the food and water.

But that’s just me.

A burning question

I heard a news report earlier this week regarding the latest numbers on the spread of AIDS. Apparently, the disease is growing in the South faster than ever. It made me think of the whole issue in a way I hadn’t before.

Why are people in this country still contracting AIDS?

Or to put it another way, why is AIDS still considered to be a major health issue in the USA.

aids-ribbonMy question is restricted to the US.  Africa, as I understand it, has an entire different set of issues that I cannot begin to fathom.

When you step back and look at it, the spread of AIDS really doesn’t make a lot of sense. The disease is:

1. Really fairly difficult to contract. It doesn’t sneak up on you and catch you when you’re not looking. Unlike the current disease de jour, the H1N1 flu, you can’t catch it by having someone sneeze on you, by shaking hands, or even sharing a drink or cigarette. For the most part, a person has to engage in some specific activities to be in danger of contracting AIDS. According to the CDC’s statistics for new AIDS cases in 2007 (the most recent year I could find), four categories of activities accounted for 99% of the causes of transmission.

a.) Male to male sexual contact

b.) Injection drug use

c.) Male to male sexual contact AND injection drug use

d.) Heterosexual contact with a person known to have or be at high risk for HIV infection.

Hemophilia, blood transfusion and perinatal exposure add up to just 1% of the new cases.

Despite the best efforts of some “AIDS activists” over the past 25 years to portray AIDS as a disease that can strike anyone, that is clearly not the case.  As the numbers show, if you don’t engage in high-risk, unprotected sex or use IV drugs, you aren’t in serious risk.

2. It is relatively easy to prevent. Just using condoms for male-to-male or high-risk sex and  and staying away from  IV drugs would prevent nearly all new cases.

3. All this information is very well known. In the early to mid 1980s the argument could be made that the causes and prevention measures for AIDS were not well known. That was a quarter of a century ago. AIDS and HIV have probably received more air-time, column inches and outdoor advertising space than any other cause I can think of, with the possible exception of breast cancer with its massive PR machine. Is there anyone who is old enough to spell AIDS and use a TV remote control who doesn’t know how AIDS is spread and how to keep from contracting it?

What this means is for nearly all cases, contracting AIDS is not an accident, a random occurance or an “act of God.”  A person has to undertake some specific activities to contract AIDS. The victim acquires the disease because he or she decided the upside of participating in unprotected, high-risk sex and/or IV drug use outweighs the risk of contracting AIDS.

Don’t take this to mean that I don’t have sympathy for those who are suffering from this disease, especially the unsuspecting wife of a philandering husband or another segment of the 1%.  For most AIDS victims, I have the same sympathy I would have for someone with cancer or heart disease — actually, maybe slightly less. My sympathy for them would be more in line with a life-long smoker with lung cancer, the tremendously obese person with heart disease or the alcoholic with a failing liver.

So what can public health officials do to prevent people from undertaking short-sighted and self destructive actions? I certainly don’t know. Does anyone?