Monday, January 26, 2009

"Don't Be Caught Dead...."

Accidents happen when they will -- that's why they're called that. All that we can really do is take precautions and manage risks. Then there are the usual just-in-case preparations, too -- ID cards, emergency contact numbers, and health insurance. But all these beside, are you sure there's something you didn't miss?

An uncle suffered an accident last week. He was working with a motorized grinder when the stone shattered. A large chunk flew off and sliced into the arch of his foot. The wound was deep, so deep that it almost cut into the bone. Good thing his brother was nearby. He managed to call for help quickly.

As accidents go, it could have been much worse: the fragments could have flown into his face, or sliced an artery, or crushed his foot. Thankfully none of that happened. But the accident still demanded a hasty trip to the hospital, an emergency operation, and a few days of confinement.

The doctors decided to operate because there were bits of stone embedded in the wound. They had to remove every little bit lest infection set in. Such a painful procedure needed general anesthesia, and my uncle was out for a few hours.

"The last thing I remembered, I was just chatting with the doctor," my uncle recounted. "Then the next thing I knew, I was in this bed."

When he awoke, his first question to my aunt was: "Have I got a catheter on? Because I can't feel my leg." And then he looked down he saw that he was wearing an adult diaper.

"Who changed my underwear?" my uncle asked.

"I don't know. Certainly not me," my aunt shrugged. "It might have been the nurses. Or the orderlies." Then she chuckled: "But aren't you glad...?"

"About what?"

"That I always throw out all your old, tattered, and baconized tighty whities and put in new ones."

"But the old ones are so comfortable!"

"Hmph! You do remember cousin S--, don't you?"

"What about him?"

"You know that one time he had an accident? He was bloodied and all, but he refused to go to the hospital. He wanted to go home first."

"Why was that?"

"Because his singlet was in tatters! He didn't want the doctors to see what miserly yellow underwear he had."

"Ah, well...."

"So now you know why I always get you new underwear. Because you never know when you'll run into an accident and have some stranger strip you down.

"Can you imagine if you were wearing filthy underwear? It's ME that would DIE of embarrassment...."

If this were a fictional account, I would have my uncle blurt out: "But, honey, I WAS wearing my old underwear." But it's not, and the exchange between the two will have to end with my aunt getting in the last word (as, I suspect, happens all the time.) But that beside, my aunt does so love my uncle, and she really does think of everything.

Wearing clean underwear is not as facetious as it sounds. Since I posted an early draft of this story on my blog, many friends have come forward with cautionary tales. Yolynne from Zamboanga shares: "A cousin who is a nurse is constantly reminding us to invest in good and quality underwear. Once they saw a girl who was about to be operated on, and she was wearing her fave old undies. The girl was really embarrassed."

It's not just a matter of saving face, either. Remo, a surgeon from Tacorong, emphasizes that they have to strip emergency patients' underwear for better visualization of hidden injuries. Surgeons prefer clean, untattered undies because they can reveal marks and otherwise undetected trauma.

And sometimes...sometimes it just goes beyond what's clean and what's not. Mel, an anesthesiologist from Silliman Hospital, has seen quite a variety of underwear in patients. But she adds: "the most surprising were the flowered So-En panties on really macho men. I wondered, how come? The stock answer: panties are cheaper than briefs. But I don't know if that's the real explanation."

In comparison with other garments, undies don't get as much respect. After all, they're there for support, and hidden from view. Who would look, really? Then again, you never really know.

They can be revealing, in more ways than one.