Friday, December 26, 2008

Potato Salad

The middle-aged woman seated in the eye room was moving nervously in her seat. Her right eye was quite injected and teary. I went in and introduced myself and asked her what happened. She replied, “I think I got something in my eye.” I asked, “When did it happen?” She answered, “I’m not sure, but it was several days ago.” I did a general external eye exam. I noticed that the woman had very pale, white skin. As I looked further I noted a few bruises on her face and arms. I made a mental note of these as they are often an indicator of domestic abuse.

I placed the slit lamp and had the tech darken the room. Upon magnification I saw that her conjunctiva was injected and swollen. There were several denuded areas on the cornea and these readily took up fluorescein and lit up under the blue light. I moved the slit lamp aside and said, “You have several nasty abrasions on your cornea. These need to be treated.”

I looked her in the eye and said, “I’m concerned about the bruises on your face and arms as well as the eye injury. Is there something you need to tell me?” The woman looked a little perplexed and shifted her weight in the seat. She said, “I’m not sure what you mean doctor?” I answered, “Well, these injuries often occur as a result of domestic abuse. Are you in an abusive relationship?” She answered, “Oh gosh no doctor. I’m not in a relationship at all.” I confronted her more directly and said, “State law requires me to report cases of suspected domestic abuse. It is for your own protection.” She carefully considered what I had told her and replied, “Potato salad.” I said, “Pardon me?” Again, she said, “Its potato salad.” I thought to myself that this woman was in a level of denial that I have never seen before. I asked, “How can potato salad cause these bruises?” She answered, “I like potato salad.” I answered, “I like potato salad too, but I am not sure what this has to do with this.” She answered, “You don’t understand. I really like potato salad.” I said, “Yes, me too—with mayonnaise—but you have to stopt beating around the bush.”

The woman stared at me for a bit and started to move around more anxiously in her chair. She said, “I really like potato salad.” I stared at her waiting for her to elaborate. Finally, she spoke, “I know it is kind of weird, but potato salad makes me frisky.” “Frisky?” I questioned? She said, “You know…frisky…horny.” Incredulously I asked, “Potato salad makes you horny?” She said, “I know that sounds weird, but yes, it makes me horny.” I asked, “Are the nurses playing a joke on me?” She got a serious look on her face and said, “No. It’s true. I guess it is some kind of a fetish.” I sat there totally perplexed. Finally, I said, “OK. So potato salad is your fetish. That doesn’t explain the bruising and the eye injury.” She sighed deeply and said, “I like to have the potato salad thrown at me.” I looked up from the chart and said, “What?”

It seems that Ms. Papa’s last marriage was somewhat kinky. Evidently she and her ex-husband liked to have sex in the kitchen and somehow potato salad got into the picture. The patient went on to say that when she gets comfortable with a man she gets out the potato salad. She takes a large sheet of plastic and tacks it to the wall and strips down. She then gets a tub of potato salad out of the refrigerator and has her current beau “chunk the potato salad” at her while she stands in the middle of the plastic sheet. The harder the potato salad is thrown and the more it hurts, the hornier she gets. Then, once she has been adequately exposed to potato salad, it’s off to the bedroom where, evidently, the encounter with the potato salad continues. Thus, the bruises and the corneal abrasions were due to high-velocity potato salad striking her during the throes of passion. I looked her in the eye for a minute and pondered what I had just heard. I said, “OK. I don’t really need to know more (although that little devil on my shoulder wanted to know the intricate details). I’m going to give you a prescription for eye drops and some pain medicine. Be sure to follow-up with the ophthalmologist in 48 hours.” I watched her walk out. She looked so normal I thought—almost frumpy. Since then I have never looked at potato salad and not thought of her.

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