Sunday, May 27, 2007


Beware the Danger of MRIs (Male-Related Injuries)

Scene 1: A young American male, age 27, strolls on the outer edge of a sidewalk while on vacation in Chiangmai, Thailand. His girlfriend walks to his left, searching for a restaurant they can enjoy together, while he scans to his right, taking in the scenery of this new country, and not noticing the inch-thick sign directly in front him. He collides directly with it, leaving a gash at the top of his septum and a red welt on the right side of his forehead.

Through squinting, teary eyes, he can see a woman working in the store the sign belongs to, wincing in hurtful empathy. His significant other continues walking, still searching for the eatery and not noticing his mishap. He does nothing to alert her to his condition, either, because it’s fine with him if she never finds out how accident prone her boyfriend is.

Cause of incident: He just wasn’t paying attention at the time.

Scene 2: Another young American male, age 18, is in his rural Tennessee home preparing for a church youth group picnic. While he and a friend prepare food to bring to the event, one of them initiates a water gun fight. Opinions differ as to who started the skirmish, believing that such a confrontation was a good idea indoors. What is certain is the result: the young man’s pate collides with the doorframe which serves as an entry to his bedroom.

His mother delivers the food his family had prepared for the picnic to his fellow church members while he sits in the car, clutching a towel to the gash atop his head, which will require stitches and leave a scar for many, many years to come.

Cause: He just wasn’t thinking at the time.

Scene 3: A young American male in Korea is traveling overnight to a city northwest of Seoul. Because it’s a short trip, all the clothes and toiletries are packed into a single bag. In the morning, he rummages through his bag looking for his towel before taking a shower. Navigating by feel, his left finds the towel, but not before accidentally finding his shaving razor.

Its much-touted tri-blade system leaves him with three narrow but deep cuts in the middle finger of his left hand. He proceeds with his shower anyway, hoping that ignoring the wounds will cause them to go away faster. However, he leaves multiple red spots in his host’s bathroom, and at the end of his shower the bleeding has not slowed, much less stopped. When he emerges he must ask: “Do you have a bandage? How about several?”

Cause: Putting the razor there just seemed like a good idea at the time.

These incidents, while occurring in different countries, represent an alarming and yet under-reported threat to a significant portion of our population. Indeed, millions of people worldwide are at risk for painful, embarrassing injuries when they attempt to do even basic tasks while being male.

Awareness of this condition and its risk would probably increase if it had an easily recognizable name. Though the acronym has already been claimed within the medical community, I suggest calling them Male-Related Injuries (MRI’s). It is high time that our society as whole began paying more attention to the inherent risks that those saddled with Y-chromosomes face, and I am not simply suggesting this because two of the three above incidents happened to me.

The results of MRI’s may include death, serious injury, and even worse, low self-esteem. Fortunately for me, I didn’t have to explain the marks I bore as a result of Scene 1 because, two days after the incident, I was seriously sunburned, obscuring the red marks on my nose and forehead (forgetting sunscreen can also result in an MRI, depending on the severity of the burn).

This malady begins afflicting us from a young age. When I was 9 I distinctly recall an afternoon outside my school, when I rode a bicycle down a steep hill, falling and splitting the back of my head open on the handlebars. This misadventure was prompted after I had gathered with about four other similarly-afflicted young males and we agreed that trying to ride a bicycle down a steep hill would just be a neat thing to try.

As we grow older, MRI’s can threaten our productivity, and even our lives. A simple Yahoo search, using the words “man,” “injured” and “stupidity” yields 800,000 results, not to mention some enlightening anecdotes on the effects of unenlightenment. For example, last fall, a 22-year-old London man suffered serious internal injuries while celebrating Guy Fawkes Day, when he inserted a lit firecracker into his buttocks which, despite all odds, exploded.

There’s also the example from the past year of the 26-year-old scuba diver from Florida who required major surgery on his lip when he kissed a nurse shark, which he apparently hadn’t bought a drink for first. The lesson he learned from his experience? “Don’t kiss a shark while it’s upside-down.”

Tales of many MRI’s, especially fatal ones, are often found at the home page for the Darwin Awards. These “prizes” are presented to those who have ostensibly made the world a better place by ridding us of their faulty genetic material. The trouble is, just about every man, regardless of his upbringing and the amount of letters following his name, is only one MRI away from an embarrassing death or causing an embarrassing injury to someone else. It doesn’t matter if the person is, say, the vice president, all it takes is a single MRI for him to be forever known as the guy who shot a elderly lawyer in the face on a hunting trip.

This is a dire situation which calls for more attention, and maybe some government handouts. That way, at least we’ll be able to provide for our children after our final embarrassing accident.

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