Tuesday, January 30, 2007
WHAT is in MY MOUTH???? - Part III
Thankfully, when I arrived at the hospital, things were slow in the ED and I didn't have any patients to register. I promptly called down to the lab and the tech I had spoken with earlier came right up to pick up my specimen. He was sincerely concerned and empathetic. He said he would let me know what they find as soon as possible and downstairs he went.
After that, I had a few patients to register, which was good as it helped me to get my mind off of the specimen, well, somewhat anyway.
I did decide to tell a few people and amazingly, no one cracked any jokes - no not even one - which told me how bad they felt for me. Instead, they looked repulsed while yet still trying to console me. You know that look we all get (in varying degrees) when something is repugnant? You know when one's face doesn't reflect the words coming out of their mouth? Their body language said it all!
One co-worker came back to me to tell me that sometimes the little creamers are old and can be slimy and that perhaps that is what was in the bottom of my cup. (Oh, if only it was old cream slime!) I immediately discounted that as the cream blended nicely in what I thought was my Oh so perfect cup of coffee.
Later, that same person came back to say that maybe someone poured fresh coffee into an old coffee pot that hadn't been cleaned in awhile. They said that sometimes if anything is left in the bottom of the pot that it could turn into a big piece of old slimy mold.
Oh, please God - I could deal with old slimy mold in my mouth! However, I ruled that out too - I just knew it wasn't.
Finally, the lab tech came back up and he said they had ruled out semen. I actually realized that early on, for various reasons. I jumped to that conclusion because of the way the unfriendly man who had given me the coffee behaved.
The tech said that he and the other tech looked at it under a microscope and had been going through some books trying to match it up to some pictures. He said they thought it might be sputum - that it sort of matched what they saw on the slide to what was in the book. (actually, as I think of this now - I don't exactly remember if he said sputum, phlegm or mucus. How could I forget?) It was this big, slimy, chunky with varying textures F.B. in my mouth, so I will let you medical people ponder that. Mucus is thinner though - right? So - not that then.
It was now 10p.m. and I was in between patients and I decided to call the State Police again. I had to explain the story to him and then told him I wanted to get it tested. He said that I would have to be able to prove that someone intentionally tampered with my coffee and that an employee didn't just hock something up into a cup that another employee then picked up accidentally. (wasn't feeling real good again at this point) The officer said that I could call the detective in the morning.
Early the next morning I called the State Police barracks again and asked for the detective. I told him the story. He said they couldn't do anything with it forensically. He then said it would have to get sent out to another county and that they can't even get their own stuff analyzed.
Next, I called the county Health Department to see if they had looked into it yet. The person on the phone told me that the some people from the Health Department were inspecting the Kentucky Fried Chicken right as we were speaking and to call back later.
So, I then brought the other half of the specimen to my doctor's office. Both nurses at the front desk were immediately grossed out. (by the way - that was only half of the specimen) They said they would send it out and that the doctor would call me with the results.
When I got home, I immediately called the health Department. It turned out that the KFC had several health violations that had to be immediately corrected.
(It is amazing how many people told me (after the fact) how dirty that place was. Ugh! I had only gone through the drive through and who would think something would be wrong with a cup of coffee?)
My doctor called me a few days later. He said the specimen didn't test positive for T.B., but that's it. He didn't indicate that there was or wasn't anything else - just that it didn't test positive for T.B. .
So that's it. There was never anything conclusive. Still a mystery.
In retrospect, I think it was someone's coughed up sputum and it was MAN SIZE and nothing that ever would've been in my mouth.......except that ......IT WAS! I KNOW - YUK!
Over react? Who Was THAT Man? Law Suit? After Thoughts.
Did I over react? You would have to have had this in your mouth to really know. I could have gotten past the disgusting part - really, I could have. In my mouth? Spit it out. Done deal. The idea of being exposed to some potentially serious disease IS what freaked me out.
I do think that I over reacted regarding the crime and forensics. I remembered how odd the man who gave me the coffee was. He seemed so unfriendly. (of course serial murderer Ted Bundy was charming) The C.S.I. show is what gave me the idea to analyze it. Unfortunately, there are people out there that do twisted things to others - we've all heard the stories. My thinking was, that if we knew that I was exposed to something then we could take measures to counter it's effects.
*** About a year later, I saw pictures in our local newspaper of the employees that worked in that particular KFC. It turns out that some of them were on a work program through the Association of Retarded Citizens. The man that served me the now infamous cup of coffee is developmentally disabled. He didn't understand how to respond to me because he didn't have the cognitive skills to respond appropriately.
(Years back, I had worked for ARC and I know first hand what a wonderful program it is. So, please don't think I am critical of it in anyway.)
1. LAW SUIT? I have no doubt that given the climate of today's litigious society, that I would've had an open and shut case and that I could have won a sizable amount of money. I don't know what the legal jargon would be, but I was certainly experiencing emotional upset. That could've been proven with all the phone contacts and also the fact that KFC failed inspection, miserably. Even though I gave up the specimen, I had still saved the cup with some remnants of the specimen in it.
Didn't someone win a lawsuit against McDonalds because her coffee was too hot? Call me crazy, but when you order HOT coffee - isn't it supposed to be HOT?
And didn't someone else (correct me if I am wrong) win a lawsuit because the fast food was making them FAT? Gee - it really that much of a challenging concept to understand that FAST FOOD MAY ADD TO YOUR BEING OVERWEIGHT?
*** Well - I am not that person! I think our society is too litigious! (I'll post more on this another time) People make mistakes. Things happen. I know of someone who looks for reasons to sue to gain money and will even trump up the damages where possible. That is abhorrent to me!
2. I could've (maybe should have) contacted KFC headquarters - but I didn't. Ha! - Maybe I would've gotten a free bucket of chicken! Thanks but NO THANKS!
3. I could've (maybe should have) contacted the manager at that KFC. I actually hold him and other managers responsible to oversee that there aren't any violations. I didn't - i just wanted to be far, far away from there!
4. Here's the kicker! I PAID THE LAB BILL! I know that at the very least, that they should have paid that, but I just wanted to move forward and forget about it.
In the end, it was one of those things that I gave to God. I am just grateful for all the blessings in my life - the things that really matter. :)