Don’t read this or you’ll develop Literary Insanity

by Viv Sade

A voracious reader, I have often run off the road trying to read the small print on billboards.

I will read whatever is closest. Normally, this would be a good thing, but as many good and educational items that I read, there is also a lot of junk reading (i.e.: The National Enquirer, a Kardashian biography or The Joys of Composting).

Growing up, I not only read the backs of cereal boxes, but every word on the boxes. On Sundays, I read the entire church bulletin and made notes in the margins and later I read the words to the music my kids listened to even though admittedly, it sometimes frightened me.

Twice a week I go to my daughter and son-in-law’s early in the morning when they leave for work and get my two granddaughters out of bed, feed them and get them to school or day care before I go to work. While waiting to wake them, I often pick up whatever reading material is on the nearby coffee table.

Since my daughter — a nurse who works in cardiac surgery — is back in college to obtain a second degree, I have been reading some compelling literature.

Last week I read three chapters in the 1,147 page “Cultural Competence in Medical Education” that was very interesting, actually.

This week, though, the only item on the table was “Bowel technique in the O.R.: Is it really necessary?” The booklet detailed a study that determined there is a significant contamination to surgical instruments which have come into contact with bowel mucosa.

Riveting stuff.

With absolutely no background or knowledge of medicine or medical procedures, except for the times when I have to write about some horrible disease like ebola or the flesh-eating virus, I have no business intruding into the medical profession’s directives.

That is hazardous reading.

The worst that could happen is that I develop the diseases just by reading about them — this has happened every time I reported on a disease. I once caught mesothelioma just by watching a personal injury law firm’s TV commercial.

The best thing that could happen from all of this unauthorized reading is that while I’m shopping at the mall, looking for baggy Spandex pants, I could end up having to perform emergency surgery on a stranger who suddenly keels over in front of me. I might save his life with my recently acquired knowledge and by not letting my surgical instruments come into contact with his bowel mucosa, all the while singing the words to my son’s favorite song, Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask.”

The author is currently reading “The Poisonwood Bible,” “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”and “How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You.”

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