February 27, 2014

7 in 7: The Radioactive Booger

[This is day four of 7 Posts in 7 Days.]

There's not much humor involved with pediatric cancer. But since my seven-year-old daughter has been happy and healthy for many years now, I can occasionally look back on a funny moment or two from those otherwise horrible first couple of years.

When she was about 19-months-old, my daughter began three rounds of chemotherapy at the children's hospital in our area. Each round required about five days in the hospital, so my wife and I pretty much moved in and lived in our little girl's hospital room so we could be around her 24/7.

We did a lot of pacing of the halls in the hospital whenever our daughter felt like wandering around (while tethered to an IV pole on wheels). The oncology wing of the hospital was a long dead-end hallway with several nurse station pods in the middle, and patient rooms along the sides.

One day while on one of our many middle-of-the-night walks, we noticed something strange about the last patient room all the way at the far end. There was caution tape covering the door along with warnings about potentially hazardous materials and orders to keep out. It seemed a little creepy, but we went about our business and didn't ask any questions.

When it was time for my daughter's second round of chemo, we moved back into the hospital, and the creepy room at the end of the hall was still blocked. A few weeks later when we were back again, we saw the same thing.

What in the world happened inside this room? One night there were a couple of especially funny nursing assistants on duty. These guys were always jovial, so we thought they'd be good ones to ask. The strange thing is, they didn't really know the full story. But apparently there were some urban legends floating around the hospital about what happened in this room.

They told us that there once was a patient undergoing some very serious experimental treatments, and everyone who entered the room had to put on a full body suit for protection. (That's not unheard of; we saw that once in a while in the hospital.) Eventually when the patient left the hospital and the cleanup crew entered the room, they discovered something on the floor.

A booger! Yes, according to the nursing assistants' rumor, for some reason when this mysterious object that looked like a booger was found, the room had to be sealed off for further decontamination just in case.

I said, "Why not send it to the lab and find out for sure?" One assistant jokingly answered, "They'd put it under a microscope and confirm, 'Yep, it's a booger!'" Or maybe they could have sent in a robot to eradicate the booger.

(Yes, I actually searched "Radioactive Booger" on Google Images and found this. Courtesy: drawception.com)


We never found out what happened to the radioactive booger. I hope people reading this never have to take their children to the oncology wing ("4-North") at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin, Texas; but if you do, steer clear of the room all the way at the end of the hallway on the left. Or the radioactive booger might get you.

(See a list of other 7 Posts in 7 Days participants here.)


1 comment :