Saturday, June 15, 2013

This Saturday in (Medical) Science

Try not to be jealous of those fabulous calves of mine people.

So we've spent a lot of time in our This Saturday in Science features, exploring space, beneath the ocean and, um, back to space again, so we figured it might be time to explore some inner space, like the kind inside our bodies.

Luckily, just as that thought occurred to me, I had reason to visit the emergency room at Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.

This thing is definitely science-related....
As it turns out, ever since I was a tyke, I've had an umbilical hernia.

It means there is a space in the muscle wall (not that this is an area of my body known for its muscle tone) and
sometimes, things that belong inside, can peek through the hole.

That's the scientific explanation for a hernia, I swear.

Anyway, other than an abnormally violent objection to being tickled there, it never gave me any problem and I never paid it any mind -- until last weekend that is.

I'll spare you the details of the lead-up.

Let's just say some pain, a terrifying trip through medical pages on the Internet, and a call to our on-call doctor ended up in a late night Sunday visit withour friends in the emergency room.

Now, to be sure, there were lots of needles, gadgets and gizmos that were all sciency.

But the actual healing came about as the result of some expert laying on of hands by the doctor on call who essentially put everything back where it belonged without nearly as much pain as I imagined it would entail.

Despite the obvious advantages, this port is apparently
not designed for the delivery of spirits. 

So, thanks for that.

I thought that was pretty cool and was ready to up and leave at that point, which would have made this a very short post.

Pain gone?

Problem solved, let's go.

Yeah, not so fast.

Eventually, after the paperwork, the bureaucracy and the actual treatment, we got to the science.

Naturally, blood had to be taken for testing and the nurse left behind a "port" in my hand so they could get any old substance they wanted to into my system.

I agitated for vodka with disappointing results.

Eventually, I did get a drink, although it was not quite what I had in mind.

It seems that after dealing with the problem, they had to be sure they understood the problem. That meant getting a look at my insides without opening me up to have a look, a course of action which received my vigorous endorsement.

The tool of choice Sunday night was a cat scan.

And, it seems, in order to get the best look inside, they need something to highlight the areas they wanted to look at.

Enter, the beverage.

I'm not sure what it was called, but I do know peach ice tea will never again hold quite the same allure for me.

I had to drink all 900 ml of this stuff; not my idea of
an enjoyable drinking contest.

It took a good 20 minutes to get the stuff down, and although I will confess my skepticism about the straw being a big help, that turned out to be the case.

I guess the soda people are on to something.

Anyway, after consuming this muddy looking brew, all 900 milliliters of it, came the best part -- the waiting.

Two hours of it.

So I don't know about you, but waiting around in a hospital, whether in the waiting room or back in the room with the curtain, is about as boring as it gets.

They had a television, but of course it didn't work.

Now, as these photos have no doubt indicated, we had a smart phone at our disposal, but you know what, there's only so much information on the Internet, and after two hours, we knew we would heave read it all.

Besides, the battery was low and we had to preserve our photographic equipment for the photos still to come.

Luckily, being old-school types, we had come well-prepared.

We brought books.

It's funny, when you think about it, but in my house, when you're heading out the door to the emergency room, the things you check for are your keys, your wallet, your insurance card and, of course, a good book.

A good book: Never Leave Home Without One.
Luckily for me, I often have at least two going at the same time.

I decided against the 1,000-page history tome I've been quietly digesting for months, and instead brought along a lovely little book my wife recommended: "Gilead" by Marilynne Robinson.

It won the Pulitzer in 2005 and reading it, I can see why.

Nothing takes your mind off your mortality quite like good writing.

The two hours passed, well, like two hours always passes in an emergency room -- good book or not -- slowly.

Finally, a man showed up at about 1 a.m. much too alert for the hour it seemed to me, to take me on a ride to the cat scan room.

This part was undoubtedly scientific.

The cat scanner, if that's what you call it, is a big circular machine, that looks a little like the time arch in an old Star Trek episode.

They hooked up some iodine to my port.

I asked if we would at least put port in my port, but again, science came before celebration.

The cat scan machine talks to you and, like a good patient, I did what it told me to do (good practice for the robot takeover of the world no doubt). It consisted primarily of telling me when to hold my breath.

Then, don't hold your breath, came more waiting.

I tried, and failed to catch some shut-eye.

Finally, a different doctor arrived, had a look at the report, at my blood test results and told me I could go home, that it wasn't that serious and that I should go see another doctor (which is a pretty full summary of most of my medical science experiences.)

Never underestimate the mood enhancing power of the mighty Thor!
But as we slipped me out of my fashionable gown, the one with the daring dip in the back, I noticed a set of high-tech mood enhancers sitting on the counter.

It didn't seem like anyone would mind....

....after all, who needs more mood enhancement than an emergency room patient?

But I'm afraid the only science involved here was psychology.

You see, in addition to being a science fiction geek, I'm also a comic book geek, so who better to enhance my mood than the mighty Thor?

Although I will confess, as super-heroes go, he's not that big into science....


  1. OK, I will admit this was a reading highlight of my day, but just why bothers the hell out of me. As a photographer who has missed his share of credits, however, I must point out that whoever dared go where undoubtely few have gone before - a digital close up of your calves - deserves public recognition. Then again ...

    Joe Zlomek, The Posts

    1. The photographer did want to distract from the pure artistry of the photos with something so mundane as a photo credit Joe.

  2. Delightful Evan. This is the only vicarious, (or otherwise), trip to the emergency room I've ever taken that was actually ....FUN....if I ever have to do it again, will you go with me, pretty please?

    Hope you're feeling well and rested, (yeah right), today and HAPPY FATHERS DAY!! Katy