Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ball 14. When Pool Filters Attack

"Life," Woody Allen once quipped, "is divided into the horrible and the miserable." He clearly didn't spend a lot of time on Pubmed, else he would have come up with a third category to explain this:

"Swimming pool filter-induced transrectal evisceration in children: Australian experience."

The article comments on a case series reported last May in the Medical Journal of Australia of this terrible (and, in all seriousness, terribly traumatic for the victim) event that, unlike a lot of other medical conditions requires no translation.

"the long-term functional outcomes in the three cases of swimming pool filter-induced transrectal evisceration described by Price and colleagues are excellent and significantly better than many other cases described in the literature."

Many other cases described in the literature? How many cases of pool filters attacking Down Under could there be?

Quite a few, it seems. Reports of similar incidents date back 1982, and, while sporadic, aren't difficult to find. At least one myth-debunking site, Stupid People Tricks, describes a case in North Carolina while dispelling the similarly gruesome, but apparently apocryphal, stories of intestinal misadventures in airplane lavatories. (The lawyer in that case? A young John Edwards, who won millions of dollars for the family of the young girl injured in the episode.)

The lesson is simple: Pools are attractive nuisances and no matter how high the fence, they're always a threat. Anyone who owns one should exercise the utmost caution to avoid injury.

Well, okay, that's a lesson, I guess, but another message is that the human body truly is an amazing thing: No matter how obscure the mechanical invention, we'll find a way to let it maim or kill us.

(Disclaimer: I didn't pitch this as a story ... yet.)

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