Little plastic pieces

November 16, 2007

I’m currently enjoying a Remicade infusion at the Faulkner Hospital. Obviously I’ve set up my wireless card on my new Macbook and have taken the oxygen sensor off my finger so I can type. But the one thing I can’t control this morning is the amount of tiny pieces of plastic all over every room.

These little plastic pieces are the remnants of each IV bag, needle case, thermometer and more. They remind me of Tribbles in the way that they seem to multiply and proliferate.

Unlike needles or ‘sharps’ as they are jargonalically called, these little plastic bits would only be dangerous if you tried to eat them or stuck them in various body holes. But why do the medical device and pharmaceutical companies create everything they sell with so many extra plastic parts?

It can’t be cost-effective to waste 10% of each intravenous bag, but the tips of each tube and the packaging in which the kits travel up from the lab are all plastic.

Maybe the soapbox is out today because I spent last night updating my computer and helping Aaron set up his new iMac. When opening the computers I created a huge pile of attractive and useless waste paper and plastic. Sure, the computers have to get here unblemished from Shanghai, but including a tree’s worth of cardboard and a dump truck amount of plastic isn’t the way to come across as green.

Or perhaps the rant has been precipitated by my frustration with some of the set-up last night. The Mac is supposed to be plug-and-play, but getting my brother on the Internet yesterday failed. Really. We could only Wijack a little using his Airport modem, but connecting via an Ethernet cable was impossible.

Even Earl – the kindly, but unskilled representative at 800-567-6789 (Verizon’s help center) – left us scratching our collective heads.

Maybe it’s projection in its purest sense. I associate myself pretty closely with the brands I like and the products I support. I feel a special affinity for McDonald’s, Toyota, CVS and especially Apple. Fanboys like me take it pretty personally when another person’s experience with our main computer company doesn’t go so well.

Add to that my hunger and you’ve got a recipe for whining.

For what the computer cost and for what my insurance company has to pay for Remicade, you could understand how antsy I am about paying for stuff that doesn’t work. Ultimately the Apple issue will get worked out. I know this because I’ve never had an unresolved Apple computer issue.

And the infusion will likely do its part to keep my Crohn’s in check – fingers crossed and knock on wood.

But who’s going to pay the tab to take care of the trash? And who’s going to step up to the plate at Verizon to make sure Aaron can surf the Internet?

The state of the universe is such that blaming other people for anything is the default response when things get difficult. That’s not the case here. Three hours of struggling last night and a lifetime of medications and doctor’s visits have given me a perspective that’s not at all projective or blaming.

The situations are real and all I’m looking for is a response. From a real person. Who can give real answers and real results. The same is true for the medicine. I want real doctors to realize what it’s like to have a chronic illness. It’s not the movies or TV where sick people get miraculously better.

I guess the lesson here is that we’re not living in front of backdrops, on a movie set, or in a dream state. There are going to bumps in the road, real blood, real struggles and real pain.

So I guess the situation is about as far from being plastic as it could get.

More to come…