**Please skip this post if you have a weak stomach or have any uncompromising preconceived notions of me as a well-mannered lady .**
Nothing says "welcome home" like a virus bent on making a human stick, double-wick of dynamite out of me for 39.5 hours. It was my first week back at work and I almost made it until the clock struck midnight on Friday morning. And it was not the Grim Reaper who came knocking, but rather just his more sociable personal assistant. I think her name was Tina. She kicked me out of bed with a start at 12:49 am on Friday morning and we proceeded to engage in the longest meeting of my life. My love for life was tested a total of 57 times, each time begging for mercy at the foot of the plastic toilet throne. Cleaning up your own effluent off the bathroom floor causes one to reflect in a deeper way about life and purging the excess from it.
After much much thought and dehydration, I adjourned my meeting with Tina on Saturday afternoon and made my way to the hospital, just one of the many plastic hot spots in the world.
I was checked in by a nurse with the bedside manner of a geriatric schnauzer. I received my first plastic paraphernalia--the bracelet. I was given a "dump" bucket just in case the heavens opened while I was in the waiting room. Thankfully, I was called in quickly and wearily followed the nurse to my room where I somehow managed to get undressed and slip into the longest hospital gown ever. Got into the bed, my vitals were taken, and before I knew it, Nurse Chipperpants hooked me up with my first liter of IV fluids. I did not think to take these bags because I was concentrating more on not vomiting or crapping my pants in public. I do have priorities. I was in and out of sleep & shivering and after a visit from Dr. T, he comes to the educated conclusion that I have a virus. I have my suspicions of the source after I wrote off my coconut noodles from the night before, but all I cared about was eventually wanting to eat again and to get out of the hospital. I had to pee into a cup and I was surpised to see a "pee kit" complete with 2 individually wrapped castile soap wipes and a pee cup with cap AND handle--all contained in a sealed plastic pouch with a plastic label cuff. I was also given a plastic poop tray that fits snugly in between the toilet bowl and the seat. You poop into it and then some magic medical fairy comes to take it away. I did not do this, but the poop tray went into the trash anyway. Nothing I could do. They also served me Sprite in a styrofoam cup with a plastic straw. All of these items (sans poop tray) managed to make it home with me to become a part of my last two weeks of collection.
I drank a lot of Gatorade from plastic and ate many a plastic-wrapped Saltine. I took anti-nausea medication from a plastic pill bottle. When I was sick, I thought, "Jeez, is there any way to just get sick and heal without coming into contact with plastic?"
When you are sick, what kinds of plastics do you feel that you need in order to recover?
With plastics, where is the line between necessity and excess?
How does plastic use vary from person to person? Do men use more or less than women? Adults more or less than children? Chinese more or less than Italian? Urban more or less than rural? Wealthy more or less than poor? Are there any direct correlations between plastic use and education? IQ? culture? age?
Today, I worked at a birthday party for a 6 year old. The party was held on a $6-7 million piece of real estate in Marblehead. This party was catered and decorated with several plastic inflatable marine animals poking their heads out of shrubbery and flowers. As a marine science educator, it was a rare sight to see the elusive "garden dolphin" and "bush orca". Incredible. The driveway was lined with plastic fish balloons and catering staff walked around with the tiniest bottled waters you ever saw. Other than that, tea & lemonade was served in glass, hors d'vours served on tiny paper plates, and paint-your-own-beach-rock party favors. 3 months ago, I was at a Christening party for a local Bahamian family's baby. All drinks were served in plastic cups, food served on polystyrene plates.
Where am I going with this? I don't know.
I guess...sometimes, I find myself sitting in plastic judgement of others (especially the new McDonald's ad campaign on the trains--a photo of one of their McCafe drinks above it reads: "If you were a straw, you would be plastic. And you would be happy.") and then after I am done, I mindlessly order a cherry lime rickey in a plastic cup with lid and straw "because I deserve it."
Sigh. Awareness is a bitch sometimes, but I can't live without her anymore. I need her like a straw needs a McCafe latte.