Staunch the bleeding. October 20, 2008 6:40 AM   Subscribe

I have no words for exactly why this is crazy. Perhaps we could update the AskMe Posting page to include a short list of reasons why you should immediately go to the emergency room?

This has to be performance art. It's almost unbelievable to me that this series of events would not have resulted in someone, preferably the suddenly blind individual screaming "Call an ambulance!!"

So, has it reached the point that we should adjust the New Question page to include a short list of symptoms that should be dealt with immediately by a medical professional? Perhaps:
  • Sudden paralysis
  • Numbness or pain in your left arm or chest
  • Perception of smells/sights/sounds that aren't real
  • Accidental ingestion of poison
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
I suppose exceptions could be made for Mefites on satellite links in remote jungles who truly have no other recourse.
posted by odinsdream to Etiquette/Policy at 6:40 AM (102 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Or a link to my question on the subject.

Favorites accepted
posted by waraw at 6:46 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Jesus, that question. I can't imagine why a blind and vomiting roommate would make you think "Quick...TO THE INTERNET!"
posted by middleclasstool at 6:49 AM on October 20, 2008 [20 favorites]


Common sense quietly expires...
posted by fixedgear at 6:51 AM on October 20, 2008


The OP is 18 years old, and her roommate is probably around the same age, which may explain this a little. Although I would like to think that I would have known better at 18.
posted by amro at 6:53 AM on October 20, 2008


I don't like to judge how people react in an emergency. I don't think it's fair. I agree with "hie thee to the ER", but I don't know the situation (or how I'd react) well enough to judge the OP.

That's just me.
posted by stubby phillips at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: "So, has it reached the point that we should adjust the New Question page to include a short list of symptoms that should be dealt with immediately by a medical professional?"

You think that the kind of person who finds out their roommate is suddenly blind and vomiting and thinks "I wonder what AskMe would say about this" is the kind of person who would read the punchlist on the New Question form and read it carefully and deliberate over it?
posted by Plutor at 6:57 AM on October 20, 2008


I would have liked to have seen the Tweets: "OMFG BLINED!! LOL!"
posted by Jofus at 7:07 AM on October 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


Shameless, waraw.

Favorited.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:09 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Plutor, I honestly don't have a good answer or solution, but something is clearly wrong. My post may come across as a little lighthearted, but I'm in all honesty quite disturbed by what the existence of that question implies about the way some people use AskMe.

I'm absolutely serious about wanting to know if there's a solution to this, despite the fact that it can be interpreted in a weirdly-amusing trainwreck kind of way.
posted by odinsdream at 7:20 AM on October 20, 2008


Wouldn't calling the emergency room violate the principle of choice?
posted by DU at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


This has to be performance art. It's almost unbelievable to me that this series of events would not have resulted in someone, preferably the suddenly blind individual screaming "Call an ambulance!!"

Your callout has to be performance art. The world is filled with 18 year olds who don't always act logically and who might be all goofed up on drugs (or poor) and too afraid (or too broke) to see a doctor. There is no way that you can't be aware of this.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2008


My first thought was that it was a viral ad for this movie. Sadly, I'm now suspecting that it's not.

Hopefully, the poster will comment in the thread and let everyone know how it works out.
posted by quin at 7:24 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


We're going to get obvious questions sometimes regardless of how many eventualities the guidelines cover.
posted by orange swan at 7:31 AM on October 20, 2008


I removed the question because it was clearly a "stop reading this and go to the emergency room" sort of thing. I'm sure there are other things that can make you temporarily blind, some of them possibly harmless, but man. It's like when you call your health insurance company to talk to them about your bill and you have to sit through the "if this is an emergency PLEASE HANG UP and dial 911" message. I was always like "who needs that?" but maybe now I know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 AM on October 20, 2008 [14 favorites]


My first thought was, "They're Americans and instinctively associate medical attention with the risk of lifelong debt and trashed credit record." There's not enough info in the post to be sure of this, though.
posted by ardgedee at 7:50 AM on October 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Actually, based on the poster's history, I'm guessing that she's Israeli.
posted by amro at 7:53 AM on October 20, 2008


Oh wait, nevermind. She's just there for a year.
posted by amro at 7:54 AM on October 20, 2008


Actually, I don't understand this callout or the deletion. Sure it's obvious to plenty of people, but hey, it's better to ask that stupid question than sit around in ignorance.

Unless the mods don't want these types of questions at all, due to liability issues.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 AM on October 20, 2008


The OP stated they were in Israel. Not sure how medical coverage works there, though.

I was curious, and went to see if the OP had updated and was a little surprised to see it deleted, too.
posted by irishkitten at 7:57 AM on October 20, 2008


And all this time, I thought you stanched bleeding. But I was wrong.

TMYK™... ~o°*
posted by pineapple at 7:58 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dear AskMe, I am currently on fire. [more inside]

The flames are mostly out now, and I'd say ninety percent of my body below the waist is now charred and black, with a significant amount of sloughing. I'm really in an amazing amount of pain. Is it okay to take more than the recommended amount of aspirin? I'd prefer not to go to the hospital right now. Please advise.
posted by Drastic at 8:04 AM on October 20, 2008 [31 favorites]


This also reminded me of my favorite comment in an ForGod'sSakeGoToTheEmergencyRoomFilter thread from ikkyu2:
If it's important to you to keep this finger, you should go to the E/R right now. If you don't mind losing the finger but don't want to die of sepsis from gangrene, hold off a couple of days and go to the E/R then.
Which is awesome. It's the kind of thing that should be incorporated into a decision flowchart. "Do you want to die? YES->do nothing. NO->Do you want to get much worse, but not die? YES->wait a few days, then ask again. NO->etc."
posted by Drastic at 8:12 AM on October 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


You think that the kind of person who finds out their roommate is suddenly blind and vomiting and thinks "I wonder what AskMe would say about this" is the kind of person who would read the punchlist on the New Question form and read it carefully and deliberate over it?

Pretty much exactly, yeah. There's a certain unpredictable element of Weird that's going to be burbling in the background at all times. That you have to pay five bucks and wait a week before you can ask a question is probably by far the most powerful general filter we have against such things—we get stuff this weird daily in the contact form from people who apparently take "Ask Metafilter" a little too literally.

I'm absolutely serious about wanting to know if there's a solution to this, despite the fact that it can be interpreted in a weirdly-amusing trainwreck kind of way.

I hear you, and I both agree with Plutor's quoted bit above and share your concern. I don't think we're really in a situation where there's a major neglected angle on this, is all; you cannot foolproof the site, ever, and solving this stuff by being reactive and discussing it as necessary when it comes up (which is what we end up doing a lot of over email, really) is probably the best general gameplan we have at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:20 AM on October 20, 2008


The only problem with odinsdream's suggestion is that the list of things you should not bother posting to AskMe, but should go directly to the ER for, is not a short one.

You can play around with all the various conditions that someone might consider ER-worthy, but I think the only way to make the list reasonably short is to condense it down to this: "If you are asking whether you should go to the ER, the answer is almost certainly Yes. Do not waste time posting your question here. Go to the ER now."
posted by adamrice at 8:26 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Plutor's second law of web development: The users who would benefit the most from reading the directions are precisely the users least likely to read them.
posted by Plutor at 8:37 AM on October 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


Plutor,

Can you whip up a script that will call 911 and log the user out of Ask MeFi if torrents of blood are falling onto his/her keyboard?
posted by lukemeister at 8:45 AM on October 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I was always like "who needs that?" but maybe now I know.

No kidding. Which, now that you've mentioned it, makes me suddenly understand a lot of seemingly-unnecessary warnings.

...like the ones about how a bike helmet should not be worn on a motorcycle, or the "caution: package contains sharp objects" label on a box of knives.

Which is depressing to me personally, because I generally like to make fun of those warnings. And now I can't.

On topic though, who develops sudden blindness and thinks it might not be a big deal? What sort of lifestyle is that?
posted by aramaic at 8:51 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how things are in Israel or in America, but in Canada, there's a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social pressure not to go to the hospital (or even the doctor) for every damned little thing that's wrong with you. For someone who is young and not used to being on their own and making their own medical decisions (I had never once made so much as a dentist appointment for myself when I moved away to go to University and was suddenly in charge of my own health) it can be really confusing to try and sort out real emergencies from non-emergencies. Blindness seems like an obvious one to me -- but then it went away pretty quickly, so they're left with wondering if former blindness still merits a trip to the ER, or if it can wait until regular clinics are open the next day.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:51 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dear AskMe, I am currently on fire. [more inside]...

It's like a Penthouse Forum letter...
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:53 AM on October 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


I had a massive heart attack last week, but I'd already asked a question, so I've been waiting with baited breath for my chance to ask AskMe this week if I should go see a doctor. And by "baited breath," I mean, of course, "without breath."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:59 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Anyone who answered that question is a criminal against Darwin.
posted by Eideteker at 9:00 AM on October 20, 2008


Sorry if I am being dense, but why was the question deleted? I mean, apparently, people actually don't have the information contained in the answers (sudden blindness + vomiting = ER NOW).
posted by prefpara at 9:10 AM on October 20, 2008


C'mon, guys, the friend just didn't want to have to tell the ER doc that they'd been masturbating the night before.
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Sorry if I am being dense, but why was the question deleted?

I'm not sure if the FAQ/guidelines mention it specifically, but the mods tend to delete most questions where the only correct answers are "Go to the emergency room" or "Ask a doctor."

I went through a month or two of deleted AskMe questions once and put them into categories, and the "DoctorFilter" category had 2 deletes out of around 60.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2008


Well, it's a bit more extreme than that. More things that come down to "go to the ER right now holy FUCK", stuff that borders into the same sort of zone as seeming suicide or cry-for-help threads—these are not things AskMe is equipped as a community or a site to effectively help with at all. It's very weird, rare territory, but the call has been over the years that it's really not a workable thing to try and do with the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:33 AM on October 20, 2008


;kjuasfv;jbfvalkjsadvnjbsvc svkjbv asdvjb ascvjb sadvj

Oh, wait, never mind. I can see now.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2008 [10 favorites]


...like the ones about how a bike helmet should not be worn on a motorcycle
You would be so surprised how many morons I see doing this.
posted by piedmont at 9:48 AM on October 20, 2008


The only problem with odinsdream's suggestion is that the list of things you should not bother posting to AskMe, but should go directly to the ER for, is not a short one.

I'm an Emergency Medicine resident. Many people do not understand which things are appropriate or inappropriate to have evaluated in the EMERGENCY Department.

99.9% of the rashes we see? Not emergencies. But yes, there are rash emergencies.
90% of the sore throats we see? Not emergencies. But yes, there are sore throat emergencies.

I often am perplexed by my patients who either come in for every little thing ("My 8 year old vomited twice 2 hours ago and his siblings all have the stomach flu") or come in way late ("I haven't been able to urinate for the past 4 days and now I feel very sick and have stomach pain").

This post certainly fits the "Get thee to an ED now" category, but you'd be amazed at what people think they have because they've "done some reading" on the Internets.
posted by gramcracker at 9:49 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


dear askme, am riting from blckberry. stomach being pumped. wayyyy drunk. can ask doc to stop? will cooperate. promise.
posted by shmegegge at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


in Canada, there's a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social pressure not to go to the hospital (or even the doctor) for every damned little thing that's wrong with you.

That's kind of fascinating, and a side-effect of national health care that I never really considered.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:05 AM on October 20, 2008


you'd be amazed at what people think they have because they've "done some reading" on the Internets

I think I have post traumatic head crabs.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:07 AM on October 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


Dude, I told you we don't go to Ravenholm anymore.
posted by shmegegge at 10:09 AM on October 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


"...but you'd be amazed at what people think they have because they've "done some reading" on the Internets."

OK, I gotta say this,and normally I wouldn't pipe up, but this is MetaTalk, so...

I know that self-diagnosis can be a bad thing, but since it's every patient's responsibility to monitor and understand their health care, sometimes it's necessary. I had two separate doctors insist that I had gastritis, and that I needed to stop eating beans and spicy foods, and keep taking omeprazole. I suggested that, based on my symptoms, it was not gastritis, and I'd really like an ultrasound to check on the possibility of gallstones.

Because, you know, I'd "done some reading on the internets."

They tried to tell me I was too young to have gallbladder problems,etc...and I had to fight them on it for over six months - while still having attacks that felt like a bowling ball was pushing its way out from under my ribcage.

This past April, the surgeon who ended up removing my gallbladder said that it was practically a textbook case/ultrasound.
posted by HopperFan at 10:23 AM on October 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


My head fell off, and I don't have medical insurance. While I could go to a doctor (I called, and they can squeeze me in next week) to have it reattached with stitches, I'd rather not have to pay for this out-of-pocket. Is this something I can fix myself with duct tape? Would superglue work better?
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Arc welder, infinitywaltz, arc welder.
posted by mandal at 10:35 AM on October 20, 2008


I posted my question the day after I broke my foot falling off the roof. My ER deductible is quite large, so I wanted to wait if at all possible. Very painful, but no bones jutting out of my flesh, so I opted to wait a couple days until Monday. Spent the weekend hanging out with Messrs. J.Daniels and Icepack, and it turned out waiting was not a problem. Still I guessed that maybe others might have the same question I did (is this bad enough that I need to go right right now?) so there we have it.

Yes I am a total whore, but my number of favorites is now above 300, so I can feel good about myself for a while.
posted by waraw at 10:42 AM on October 20, 2008


Arc welder, infinitywaltz, arc welder.

See, that's why Metafilter is awesome! I wasn't even considering that!
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:52 AM on October 20, 2008


Arc welder, infinitywaltz, arc welder.

Jesus christ, this is the sort of irresponsible bullshit that needs to be wiped off the internet. If you're going to reattach thin surfaces like a human epidermis, MIG welding is going to have better results 99% of the time. Use the right tool for the right job, people!
posted by stet at 10:58 AM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Dear AskMe, I am pretty sure I am about to be abduc
posted by Mister_A at 11:00 AM on October 20, 2008 [18 favorites]


I go blind all the time. I've never been to see a doctor. For a while, I considered it, as when I regain my sight I'm generally slathered in blood. But it's never my own blood, and I reckon going to the hospital would just get the authorities involved, and then they'd find all those hoboes buried in my basement.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Joking aside, I hope those kids in Israel are okay. Assuming the question wasn't some odd joke, just suddenly going blind is pretty terrifying.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2008


MIG welding?! Over-engineer much? Super glue and duct tape was good enough for Dr. McGyver, and it's good enough for you.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:04 AM on October 20, 2008


This post certainly fits the "Get thee to an ED now" category, but you'd be amazed at what people think they have because they've "done some reading" on the Internets.

Agreed, but it vastly predates the internets, unusually in the form of a big medical reference book (the one my mom had was intended for laypeople, not a physician's edition) and neighborhood gossip/editorializing.
posted by desuetude at 11:05 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joking aside, I hope you're not really burying those hoboes in your basement. Pre-marinated, free-range long-pork is what's for dinner. It's the other pickled meat.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had a friend that woke up blind after spending the night huffing gasoline with friends, and she said that her vision came back after a few hours. There's probably a lesson there somewhere, but I'm no doctor.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2008


I removed the question because it was clearly a "stop reading this and go to the emergency room" sort of thing.

So that's now something that breaks the guidelines? I don't understand this deletion. It apparently was an honest question, asked in good faith. Even though the questioner was, in the opinion of many here, a total idiot, that's usually not a reason for a deletion.

Now the next person who searches for temporary blindness won't find this post which was full of good advice.
posted by grouse at 11:10 AM on October 20, 2008


MacGyver is a PhD, not a real doctor.
posted by Mister_A at 11:11 AM on October 20, 2008


It apparently was an honest question, asked in good faith. Even though the questioner was, in the opinion of many here, a total idiot, that's usually not a reason for a deletion.

I presume (hint, hint) that in this case that the mods followed up the deletion with some kind of MeMail or reached out personally to the OP to say something like, "Hey, this isn't something for the Internet, I'm deleting the post, but hurry the fuck up and get to the emergency room like everyone is saying, etc, etc."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on October 20, 2008


I don't understand this deletion... Now the next person who searches for temporary blindness won't find this post which was full of good advice.

I'm assuming you went temporarily blind, other wise you would have read the rest of Jessamyn's comment or cortex's clarification.

And if you have gone temporarily blind, you should stop posting to MeTa and go to an emergency room now.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:25 AM on October 20, 2008


Perception of smells/sights/sounds that aren't real

Oh, and one thing ... this includes you yahoos that think you see UFOs. Go to the emergency room. Ask for an anti-psychotic.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:26 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's not the seeing of unidentified flying objects that warrents anti-psychotics, Cool Papa Bell. It's the delusion that, having seen something you can't identify, you can then claim to know what it was ("It must have been God in a chariot an alien spaceship!").
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:43 AM on October 20, 2008


we get stuff this weird daily

It needs to be distilled into a blog or a book.
posted by loquacious at 12:33 PM on October 20, 2008


I would pay to read that. Or make a charitable donation.
posted by pineapple at 12:35 PM on October 20, 2008


Oh, and one thing ... this includes you yahoos that think you see UFOs. Go to the emergency room. Ask for an anti-psychotic.

I think that those characters who believe they're the fount of all worldly knowledge should also go to the emergency room to have their delusional state treated by a professional.
posted by panboi at 12:55 PM on October 20, 2008


CPB you mean that those little hoving things are not real?????????
posted by bjgeiger at 1:05 PM on October 20, 2008


Note to It's Raining Florence Henderson: Having 'baited' breath is sometimes referred to as having a 'worm on tongue'. But surely you know that and were just 'bating' your fellow Mefites.
posted by Cranberry at 1:21 PM on October 20, 2008


These questions shouldn't be deleted, they should be closed. Because of the Google and AskMe's relationship, it would be the first thing that pops up next time someone has a "blind vomiting" event.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:35 PM on October 20, 2008 [12 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with blue_beetle. Seems that closing rather than deleting, as is done with MetaTalk threads, would provide the information while reducing the possibility for a trainwreck.
posted by grouse at 1:38 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand this deletion... Now the next person who searches for temporary blindness won't find this post which was full of good advice.

I'm assuming you went temporarily blind, other wise you would have read the rest of Jessamyn's comment or cortex's clarification.


I read them both, and I still question the deletion. You can't pre-emptively keep people from asking questions like this by deleting this one- I think seeing the chorus of "GET TO THE ER NOW" is a far more effective message than, well, nothing.

It's also silly to assume that discouraging these questions on AskMe is going to somehow mean that people will just somehow realize that they should go to the ER. I mean, I just don't see someone thinking, "well, questions about dangerous health issues are prohibited in AskMe, so I'll take her to the ER instead". The OP is asking because they obviously don't know how dangerous the situation is. AskMe handled that bit just fine, and anyone who has read the question and responses now knows damn well that you don't delay about such things. But of course, no one is going to find it now.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:42 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


"I can't see my AskMe question anymore!?! Is blindness contagious?"
posted by Durin's Bane at 1:56 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


The health/crisis question issue on AskMe is ongoing.

We disallow questions on suicide, not because we don't want to help people who are critically depressed or desparate, but because they have a terrible effect on the community and are just not possible to "do well" on the site. We follow-up with all people who ask suicide questions, and it's really the worst part of my job but a part that I take really seriously.

I realize that's a little self-important sounding as far as the site goes, but emergency/panic type questions don't just result in a stream of "OMG ER NOW" responses, they can also result in

- email to mods from people who want to help the OP who want us to reveal non-public contact information and the conflict involved in that
- email to mods about the danger of leaving questions like this up/open
- people getting increasingly more anxious/angry in these threads when it seems like the OP isn't following advice
- "what are you, fucking stupid?" responses
- links back to these questions, if they're allowed to stay, that people have (historically) used against the OP
- liability - we don't use this generally as a litmus test but we can't deny that it's there and we do think about it

This was not a question that broke a pre-determined or even brand new guideline, this was a judgment call made by cortex and I to a pretty out-there question followed up by a p rivate email to the OP.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:00 PM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


The vomiting was caused by a dusty jar of warm olive spread that had been left in the pantry for nine months. If the OP had posted an AskMe about that before it was consumed, this ugliness could have been avoided. Now that it's happened, the obvious solution is to dump her. AT THE ER.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:12 PM on October 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


To jessamyn and all the other mods, thank you for the work you do to make this the awesome place it is.
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 PM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


in Canada, there's a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social pressure not to go to the hospital (or even the doctor) for every damned little thing that's wrong with you.

That's kind of fascinating, and a side-effect of national health care that I never really considered.

No, that's what should be called a reasonable use of medical resources.

As an American who did not have health insurance for a considerable amount of time, I was hesitant to go to the doctor for things I found small or unworthy. Some of them developed over time into hellishly annoying conditions (for example, a plantar wart so freaking deep they had to shoot it with chemo to try to kill it after the LASERS didn't work. And that's after cutting it out with what looked like a woodcarving tool didn't work either). I am the exception, not the rule...most Americans would've been in there the second they THOUGHT they had a wart.

If you've got a cough or an ouchy or something that your mom probably wouldn't have let you stay home from school with, for heaven's sake, suck it up. Leave the ERs open for the sudden blindness people, heart attacks and lopped-off-with-an-ax feet.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:15 PM on October 20, 2008


a plantar wart so freaking deep they had to shoot it with chemo to try to kill it after the LASERS didn't work. And that's after cutting it out with what looked like a woodcarving tool didn't work either

The frickin' laser beams didn't work? *That* is hard core.
posted by lukemeister at 7:29 PM on October 20, 2008


Uncontrollable bleeding

What if I've just cut off my hand to make a fucking point? Shouldn't I finish making my point first, before rushing half-cocked away from a really solid flameout?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:50 PM on October 20, 2008


Given that the OP and roommate were both very young, I would have told them to call an ambulance, rather than go to the ER (what if the only way they knew to get there was by bus?) or to find a responsible adult nearby who could help.

It's possible they were doing drugs of some sort and were afraid of getting into trouble; that's the kind of teenage logic I've seen in action before.

I really hope the OP comes back here to give us an update. I'm fretting a bit.
posted by jokeefe at 8:06 PM on October 20, 2008


The frickin' laser beams didn't work? *That* is hard core.

Yup. And that was AFTER I got the crazy staph infection from the opening in my foot made with the woodburner-looking thing. Ever smell your own foot COOKING as they carve pieces off? It's not a good time, I assure you. But hey, I was raised to not be a big baby about medical stuff. My dad's a carpenter, and I watched him pull things out of his fingers for which most people would run screaming to an ER.

The best story ever, though, is his father: after slicing off some fingers with the saw in his workshop for the second or third time, and stomping around the place picking them up, grumbling (no doubt with a cigarette in his mouth), he storms upstairs to get his car keys, yells "Go pick your cousin up off the floor!" to my grandmother (her cousin was hanging out with him and passed out when he saw it happen), then drove himself to the hospital.

Yeah. My family's not big on the doctors either...but I think if I suddenly lost my eyesight and started puking, I'd probably go. 18 years old or not.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:34 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


in Canada, there's a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) social pressure not to go to the hospital (or even the doctor) for every damned little thing that's wrong with you.

Korea as well. Clinic visits are nearly free, they're so cheap (with national insurance). And you mostly get what you pay for, outside of Seoul at least. I haven't much good to say about doctors here.

Don't believe the ads about medical tourism in Korea, Americans. I wouldn't have surgery here if you paid me. Knock on wood.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:06 PM on October 20, 2008


Yeah, could an admin gently prod for an update, please? This one gave me the eebie jeebies.
posted by unSane at 9:09 PM on October 20, 2008


My guess is that this was just a nasty migraine headache. Brief blindness and vomiting followed by a severe headache is a pretty typical classic migraine.

Blindness is such a non-funny thing, though, that I am quite glad this person was sent to the E/R. If it wasn't a migraine you'd want to find that out posthaste.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:25 PM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


There's a part of me that deeply resents that we have come to the point where everything needs ten warning labels. That part really wants to remove those warnings and let passive eugenics take its course. The Darwin Awards are fun to laugh at, but they're also symptomatic of a larger pervasive problem that has the potential to be a regressive force on society: if you set out to protect everyone from harm, you begin to harm everyone you've protected.
posted by mystyk at 12:01 AM on October 21, 2008


Sort of like Idiocracy? This has occurred to me too. But maybe we'll all be brains in vats before evolution has a chance though.
posted by philomathoholic at 1:01 AM on October 21, 2008


It's like a Penthouse Forum letter,

Dear AskMe Forum,

I am a 46 year old salesman, and one day last week I was travelling by train to a remote part of Cornwall. It was one of those old fashioned trains with seperate carriages, and for most of the journey I was all alone. However, when the train stopped at St. Austell, I was joined in my carriage by a 19 year old student -- 36-22-36 with shoulder length brown hair. She told me that she was on her way to visit her parents for the summer holidays, and that she'd just broken up with her boyfriend.

Of course, as this is a letter to AskMe Forum, it wasn't long before we got to doing the Wild Thing, and damn but this girl was hot. So hot that during the act of coitus, my nether-regions spontaneously combusted and 90% of my body was seriously burned. My thighs and torso are completely black now. The skin is sloughing off in some areas and I'm in terrible pain, but damn if that wasn't the hottest sex I've ever had in my life. If you've never had a 19 year old student on a West Country train, you've never lived.

Sincerely,
Willy Loman

P.S. Do you think I should see a doctor about these burns? They really, really hurt?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:16 AM on October 21, 2008


A wise man* once said "Stupidity is so vast, it makes G-d look like a neutrino."

Stupidity on the internet is so vast that it makes REAL LIFE stupidity look like a charm quark. Or maybe an up quark. Not sure.

Not that this is really "stupid" so much as "lack of common sense," but there's a really, really fine line between the two.

*Ok, he's a friend of my mom's. Dunno how "wise" he really is, but he's said a lot of pretty funny stuff.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 4:17 AM on October 21, 2008


Joking aside, I hope you're not really burying those hoboes in your basement. Pre-marinated, free-range long-pork is what's for dinner. It's the other pickled meat.

Dear AskMe: I found some dead hobos in Astro Zombie's basement. I'd say they've been down there for a few days, but they look okay to me. Can I eat them, or should I throw them out?
posted by The Bellman at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh dear, I am laughing but I am also pulling something nasty out from the oozing file cabinet in my head labeled "My Father, The Selfish Prick."

Once when I was 15, my brother and I were spending the weekend with my father and while driving back to his place after eating shellfish for dinner I announced, "Dad, I can't see." I was pretty calm about the whole thing so maybe he didn't take it too seriously. He kept turning around while he was driving to ask, "How about now? Can you see now?" After 10 minutes or so, I was relieved to announce that I could once again see. That was it. No discussion about ERs or doctors, just a guy who was happy he didn't have spend time or money on his daughter's temporary blindness.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:29 AM on October 21, 2008


That's kind of fascinating, and a side-effect of national health care that I never really considered.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:05 PM on October 20 [+] [!]


In Britain and in Ontario, they have 24hr telephone lines you can call to get advice on whether to go or not. I've called them when I had unexplained vomitting and was diagnosed with dehydration (easily treated at home with some salted water, sipped slowly so I wouldn't throw it up again, was better in 1/2 an hour).

But I would say that I have felt less pressure to not to go to the emergency room in a national health care system than Americans I know have been in their private system, because social pressure is less powerful than sheer economic pressure. You might get frowned at for going to the ER with a stubbed toe, but that's a world of difference than what my American friends have feared (like a $10,000 deductable). I would never have stayed home with a fever over 103; I know an American who has because of her deductable.
posted by jb at 11:05 AM on October 21, 2008


The Telehealth line in Ontario is tremendously useful that way -- I've called them twice to get their read on just how urgently I needed to deal with a particular situation.

And I really didn't want to imply this is a big negative problem in our health care system -- it's about people choosing to using resources wisely, and it's nowhere near the deterrent that 'I have no insurance and an ER visit will cost me several mortgage payments' is. But it's something that's hard to weigh, especially if you're young and freaking out, and you're not sure if you're supposed to be freaking out or if this sort of thing just happens sometimes.

I just feel like this thread was becoming an 'Oh my god, they're STOOPID' pile on to the poster who made the Ask.Me post, and I feel that's unfair. Of course it wasn't good decision making, but the situation as described isn't the kind that generally fosters good decisions. There are lots of factors in a situation like this that can make it not as blindingly (no pun intended) obvious to someone who is actually in the situation as it appears to outside observers who aren't, you know, panicking.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:17 AM on October 21, 2008


Arc welder, infinitywaltz, arc welder.

Jesus christ, this is the sort of irresponsible bullshit that needs to be wiped off the internet. If you're going to reattach thin surfaces like a human epidermis, MIG welding is going to have better results 99% of the time. Use the right tool for the right job, people!


MIG or TIG might have a smaller heat affected zone, but it's intensely heat affected. The old ways are still the best: brazed & lugged. Henry James offers investment cast neck lugs in a range of sizes. If you're a linebacker or gidget, Kirk Pacenti can custom make you one.
posted by morganw at 4:11 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Silver brazing is the way to go...
posted by fixedgear at 4:27 PM on October 21, 2008


Dear AskMe, I am currently on fire. [more inside]

The flames are mostly out now, and I'd say ninety percent of my body below the waist is now charred and black, with a significant amount of sloughing. I'm really in an amazing amount of pain. Is it okay to take more than the recommended amount of aspirin? I'd prefer not to go to the hospital right now. Please advise.


This may help.
posted by timeistight at 4:36 PM on October 21, 2008


But I would say that I have felt less pressure to not to go to the emergency room in a national health care system than Americans I know have been in their private system, because social pressure is less powerful than sheer economic pressure.

Dude, totally. I never really understood the problems with the health system until a few months back when I had to go to the emergency room and then subsequently spend the night at the hospital. One night -- one trip to the ER. Total cost was $8542. And that doesn't include follow-ups and some tests.

What didn't help matters was that I received the bill the same day as I received a note from my insurance company. I opened the insurance letter first: I was denied coverage. Then I opened the bill: I owed more than three times as much as I make in a year.

(The insurance issues got cleared up pretty quickly, thank heavens. It was just a small error.)

But, yeah... If I ever lose health insurance, I know I would do absolutely everything in my power to avoid going to the ER. Even if I was having trouble seeing. Sometimes one just can't afford health.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:02 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes one just can't afford health.

It's ultimately less costly than the alternative, surely?
posted by tristeza at 8:49 PM on October 21, 2008


Unhealthiness is the cheapest thing in the world!
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:26 PM on October 21, 2008


I didn't go to the ER after going blind in one eye.

Mind you, I was halfway down a mountain trail at the time, and by the time I got to the bottom, I could mostly see out of that eye again.

Leeches leave a lot of slime behind as they drop off an eyeball.
posted by flabdablet at 4:49 AM on October 22, 2008


Leeches leave a lot of slime behind as they drop off an eyeball.

Y HALLO THAR NITEMARE FUEL
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:02 AM on October 22, 2008 [5 favorites]


We disallow questions on suicide, not because we don't want to help people who are critically depressed or desparate, but because they have a terrible effect on the community and are just not possible to "do well" on the site.

I was curious about this. I posted a question once on LJ about toxicity that someone interpreted as a suicide plan. I was fine by the morning and had pulled myself back together, until the police knocked on the door. Now, this may have been the 'right' thing to do, and I don't blame the person in the US for doing IP searches and phoning UK police, but...I'd rather it hadn't happened as I ended up being ;arrested' and driven to hospital, feeling like I was wasting everyone's time because I didn't feel as bad.
posted by mippy at 2:24 PM on October 22, 2008


Well, now you know to not do the same thing on AskMe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:40 PM on October 22, 2008


Sorry if I am being dense, but why was the question deleted? I mean, apparently, people actually don't have the information contained in the answers (sudden blindness + vomiting = ER NOW).

What—if I experience sudden and unexpected blindness, you expect me to go through the various AskMe questions with the screen reading software I bought in anticipation of said blindness?
posted by oaf at 9:05 PM on October 22, 2008


What—if I experience sudden and unexpected blindness, you expect me to go through the various AskMe questions with the screen reading software I bought in anticipation of said blindness?

This is a silly straw man people keep bringing up. Hint: it wasn't the blind person who posted to AskMe this time. No screen readers necessary.
posted by grouse at 9:09 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


this time

Wait, we've seen a question like this more than once?
posted by oaf at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2008


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