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Archive for December 12th, 2008

eyeforskyIn the NY Times recently, there was an article about a disturbing fact of human variability. Well, let me re-phrase that: it’s not all that disturbing in the abstract:  people differ.  The disturbing fact is that treatments have been based on an idea of “broken/not broken” or “normal/abnormal” that may not hold up in real world practice.

incidentalomaFor instance, it turns out that if you have a patient complaining of knee pain, and you look with an MRI, you might see cartilage damage, but you might not.  Worse, apparently thousands of people are traipsing around, doing their Activities of Daily Living [yes, that’s a technical term], while having torn cartilage in their knees, and have no problems at all.  Yet thousands of people have had surgery performed on their knees, to “fix” torn cartilage, and it’s taken years for existing research saying “Guys, that doesn’t seem to solve the problem” to filter through into standard practice.  Apparently, while there are some cases where cartilage damage leads to problems, it’s within the tolerance of the human structure to function with a certain amount of damage. That makes a lot of sense; if every time one thing went wrong, the whole structure came apart, we’d be about as reliable as an old operating system and who knows what the error message might have been [other than dropping dead, or ending up as someone else’s lunch].

Partly I’m musing about human variablility because I was lecturing on it yesterday in two classes. But what landed on my doorstep today brought the issue to the fore again:  a small box, 6″x6″x1″, say, was wedging open the front storm door this afternoon. Screen-printed ribbon, and a screen-printed tag announced that it was a gift for me, and that it was “Fit to be tried”.  Oh, really?

I look at the box, heft the weight, and wonder if someone has saddled me with another bizarre Christmas gift [last year, my sister-in-law thought it would be hysterical to send me a Hillary Clinton nutcracker.  And no, it’s not the type that crunches with its jaws…].  Or maybe it’s another of those unsolicited panty hose trial things [equally useless in my life]?  It was already a source of irritation that they didn’t make any sounds or shifts in weight that suggested Christmas cookies….

Hmm.  So what….?

Oh, good Gawd…..Lady Rhetorica

As other baffled women across this great land of ours can attest, the Kimberly-Clark corporation wants me to know that they, THEY, have devised the perfect tampon.  This one, they say, will be a perfect fit for me!  So perfect I’ve just got to give it a try.

You can imagine the expression of WTF?!! this evoked.

The contents come complete with instructions for use and warnings about toxic shock syndrome.  If they could have, I’m sure the marketing team would have provided helpful hints on menstruating, just to get me in the mood.

Do I believe their claim? Well, as Lady Rhetorica is my witness, I seriously doubt their data sources.  Trust me, I’ve never let anybody named Kimberly anywhere near that part of my anatomy.

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