Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good to the Last Drop

Recently, The Associated Press reported that Australian doctors plugged a vodka drip into a poisoned Italian tourist after running out of medicinal alcohol. Not only is this a bizarre and striking image but, I had no idea that pure alcohol was used to treat any sort of condition aside from a nasty hangover.

The story stuck like Velcro to my mental sweater. It seems the undisclosed 24-year-old Italian, had ingested a large amount of ethylene glycol. Anyone knows that ethylene glycol is a clear, colorless, slightly sweet and syrupy (yum) liquid at room temperature. It can be used to make antifreeze, de-icing solutions, polyester compounds and photographic developing solutions, hydraulic brake fluids and inks used in stamp pads. It can also be turned into a vapor by shaking it briskly. For this, you would need a cocktail shaker.

The story described the treatment to prevent renal failure in detail, but never revealed how the man had ingested the substance. Was he drunk? Ill? Did he fall asleep under a leaky car? Was he suicidal? Blind? Cold? Stupid? Playing a practical joke on himself? What? Without more information it’s difficult to say. So, if only to ease my vexation for not being given the details, I decided to fill in the blanks myself.

Prudenzio, (Latin, meaning cautious) had studied the culture and history of Australia all of his life. He was particularly sympathetic to the Aboriginal people, who had been run off their land in the late 19th century by white Europeans. He had always dreamed of going to Australia to protest their plight. Following five years of working as an au pair for a mafia family in Naples, Prudenzio had finally saved enough money to carry out his vision.

After spending only three weeks among the Aborigines, Prudenzio was found at the bottom of a three-hundred-foot cliff, trapped near the car he had been using. Under multiple layers of gold chains, his naked chest sported hundreds of images of ink-stamped Crocodiles, presumed to make him appear to be more native-like. The polyester pants he was wearing were drenched in photographic developing solution. It seems, he had been side-swiped and the car careened off the edge of a cliff, rolled down several hundred feet to crash through the roof of a 24 hour photo shop.

Authorities learned that despite his many attempts, Prudenzio fell short of being able to perform the authentic dances of the Aborigines and had grown despondent. Traces of antifreeze were found at the corners of his mouth which would explain his erratic driving.

The Brisbane doctor said they quickly used all the available vials of 100 percent alcohol. The next best alternative would be vodka. Prudenzio was hooked up to a nasogastric tube and drip-fed about three standard drinks an hour for three days. The stuffed olives must have been excruciating.

Prudenzio made a successful recovery. The incident occurred several months ago, though the hospital just released the information on the case. I’m sure they wanted to make certain that the rehab treatment would prove to be successful as well.

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