Monday, November 15, 2010

To a doctor! Scat!

As rude as this society is, I also think we’re too polite.

Case in point: last week, I came down with conjunctivitis, also known as pinkeye. I’m still not sure exactly where it came from, but I suspected I had contracted it while playing flag football with 13 other people. Before yesterday’s pair of games (both of which my team won handily), I asked the crew if any of them had suffered from it last week. All of them said no. And then a couple of them began laughing.

To backtrack for a minute: all week long, people I told about my infection had one or both of the following reactions: 1) calls to get the holy hell away from me and/or 2) barely concealed snickering. The first I understood completely. The second? Not so much.

I’ve had pinkeye only once before, about four years ago. Back then, it came from touching something (probably my bathroom sink) that someone infected had touched. No shock there for anyone.

This time, though, people began insinuating things. “You know where pinkeye comes from, right?”

Actually, no I didn’t. I began scouring medical websites and went to a nearby walk-in clinic to have it treated. The information they gave me about the condition spoke in vague, family-friendly terms.

And so the wink-wink jokes continued, unabated. And I was as clueless as ever. I didn’t get the giggly implications. Weren't they thinking of mono?

Finally, a friend of mine not known for her filter said out loud, “YOU GET IT FROM SHIT IN YOUR EYE!”

Another friend chimed in on Facebook: “Did someone fart bare-assed on your pillow?” Apparently, this is a reference to Knocked Up, which gives me one more reason to hate that movie.

So there you have it. My clean-freak and non-freak nature somehow still bit me in the...eye. I still have no idea how I got pinkeye, and I’m not really clamoring to find out. I’m just laundering everything I own and counting the seconds until I can put my contacts back in (172,800...172,799...172,798...).

Back to yesterday’s football game: beforehand, I mentioned to a teammate how naive I felt not knowing that pinkeye is a fecal-based infection. He said, “I didn’t know that either. It could be caused by something else, couldn’t it?” Still, he couldn’t resist yelling across the field, “YOU SHIT IN YOUR EYE?”

Another teammate later asked, “Did you fart on your pillow or something?” Thanks again, Judd Apatow!

The whole thing got me to thinking about our collective urge to sanitize things (metaphorically speaking). For example, look at any commercial for hemorrhoid cremes or pads, Metamucil or Summer’s Eve, and you won’t know from watching the commercials what they’re for. As a kid, I used to think Tucks pads were for snuffing out matches.

And don’t even get me started on Metamucil. “You too can be regular for the rest of your life.” But my teacher said I was special!

I think it’s our quest to be as coy about gross stuff as possible that kept me from knowing what really caused pinkeye and allowed the snickering to continue unabated for so many days. Most of what I read explained the condition without alluding to any actual cause. Kind of how a child’s earliest lessons in reproduction leave out sex altogether.

The same could be said of walking a dog. I was a teenager before I knew that “walk” was a euphemism for “poo.”

So, yeah, I think we’re too eager to clean up the dirty truth about our lives. And that makes me look like I don’t know shit. And that just makes me red. Or pink. You get the idea.

5 comments:

E.J. said...

You're shitting me. I had no idea. I'm even more fascinated now about how I managed to get pink eye every Spring (usually April) 3 or 4 years in a row in elementary/junior high school. And it wasn't allergies. It was opthamologist-certified pink eye every year! Fascinating...

venessalewis said...

I'm calling bullshit on this theory. I have NEVER heard of this as a reason for pink eye! It isn't listed a potential cause for pink eye on any reputable medical website. Having logged several college summers working in day care, and being the mom of a toddler, I've dealt with a fair share of pink eye. I am also an obsessive hand washer and germaphobe. I'm pretty sure I've been vigilant enough not to get shit in my eye.

Now, speaking of shit, because I know he is still lurking around just as sure as I can smell him: I find it fricking hilarious that your ex-best stalker comments on your shortage of comments when homey has a whopping ZERO comments on every single post he makes. Oh, save for one. The one in which he had his ass handed to him. And then closed the commenting because he couldn't handle the torment any longer. Oh irony, you delicious little devil.

Michael said...

I don't know where this meme got started, but it's totally bogus. The chapter on the etiology of acute conjunctivitis in the Merck Manual begins with the statement "Viruses, especially adenoviruses ...are the most common causes in populations with good hygiene." It continues, "Conjunctival irritation from wind, dust, smoke, and other types of air pollution often is associated; conjunctivitis may also accompany the common cold, exanthems (especially measles), and corneal irritation due to the intense light of electric arcs, sunlamps, and reflection from snow." Nothing in there about shit or farts.

rhonda said...

i would never say this on your facebook, because she might actually cry if she knew, but jessica m. actually gave me the worst eye infection i have ever had. she's nine feet tall, and i'm not, so she has to bend way down to hug me...well, last time i saw her, she was working at the coffee shop. the bill of her uniform visor hit me in the eye. it was such a direct hit that it actually scraped my contact lens up. two days later i had such a bad infection that they couldn't treat me at the clinic. something to the tune of $400 later, i was just grateful that i didn't lose sight in my right eye, which was actually a scary possibility.

oh, and v's totally right. hi, tom! ::waves:: :-)

NOLA Progressive said...

I never once heard the whole "poo particles" causing pink eye theory until the movie Knocked Up came out. After that, it was rampant, but I think it's just a pop culture belief that is completely baseless. I mean the scene was funny as shit (no pun intended), but totally non researched I imagine.