Tuesday, October 14, 2014

There are just some places batteries shouldn't go

One of our science teachers invited me to photograph a guest speaker in his class today. The speaker is the father of one of the students, and is a doctor.

He brought the goods. I had intended to show up, snap a few photos, and quietly bow out. I mean, it’s not too exciting to show a guest speaker in photographs, right? I figured it’d be one or two pictures with a caption identifying the dad. Throw him a bone sort of thing. Wrong. If the guest speaker is a gastroenterologist, it’s fascinating. I made the first few photos, then got caught up in his presentation. I ended up taking a seat next to the science teacher in the back of the room for the rest of the class.

The doctor did a pretty thorough overview of the digestive system, which I vaguely remembered from my own high school biology class. Only he showed photographs and videos from his own scopes and procedures. I don’t remember seeing that. He also toted in an upper GI scope, which comes in a fancy suitcase with locks because the thing costs $25-$30k. The boys were all about holding it and looking at it, until one of them asked, “So, is this thing actually, like, used? This particular scope?” and the doctor matter-of-factly replied, “Oh, yeah. This one was used this morning.” The circle of boys expanded quickly as they each took a step back, and the one holding the scope end gingerly handed it back to the doctor while looking like he was going to lose his lunch. That cracked me up. I learned that there’s a special dishwasher-type machine that cleans the scopes after each use, and that his practice has several scopes so they can keep going without having to wait for one to be cleaned. He had performed 12 colonoscopies this morning, before lunch.

I was intrigued through the whole presentation, possibly because I have had my own fair share of digestive issues and because I know plenty of people with ulcers, gallstones, polyps, colon cancer, Crohn’s Disease, colitis, celiac disease, irritable bowel and the like. A general topic of conversation among my parent peers right now is colonoscopies. Who’s had them, who hasn’t (oh, let’s face it…at this point we’ve all had one. Except M, who seems to have an unbelievable digestive system despite his brain’s many attempts to thwart it with motion sickness.), and everyone’s experience with the always enjoyable colonoscopy prep work. As one of our friends just said the other night over dinner, “Yep…that’s 24 hours you can’t trust a fart.” (I’ve learned that when you get to be in your 40s, no topic is off-limits at the dinner table.)

The students around me seemed mildly interested at best throughout the Tour of the Digestive System, and I was amazed when one of them raised his hand and asked, “What’s an ulcer?” Then the amazement left and I just felt old.

The coolest part, though, came near the end, so to speak. (Ha.) The doctor started showing his slides of x-rays of foreign objects. I’m not talking a stray chicken bone. I’m talking some weird ass shit that people swallowed. We saw:

  • Padlock
  • Keys
  • Screw
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Toothbrush
  • Fish hook
  • Spoons (Multiple, in the same person. One broken because he was unable to swallow it whole.)
  • Coins
  • Zipper
  • Batteries (Looked like AA batts to me. But I'm no gastroenterologist.) 

Holy mother of God. The doc said, "You'd be amazed at what you can swallow." It's safe to assume I'm not going to test that assertion. These items were located in the esophagus and the stomach, and the toothbrush was actually part of the way into the small intestine because "it just happened to hit that hole just right." (Which is where I saw more kids look like they were going to vomit.)

I’m pretty sure this afternoon’s presentation will be The Coolest Thing I’ll See All Week. It’s hard to top foreign objects in odd places, after all.


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