I was working in the Accident Room of Charity Hospital in New Orleans. A young man came in complaining of pain in both of his eyes. He said he had been in an argument with another man in a bar. The other guy had stuck out two fingers and poked my patient in the eyes. The pain caused my patient to bend over. When he straightened back up and opened his eyes, the other guy poked him again, the same way.
He was in so much pain that his friends brought him to the emergency department. A quick evaluation showed that his only injury was corneal abrasions or scratches on the front, clear parts of his eyes. Though this is a very painful condition, it rarely results in a complication and usually heals within a day or two. As per the custom then, we medicated and patched both of his eyes and sent him out with a prescription for pain medicine. His concerned friends helped him out of the emergency department and into their car.
Though we didn’t want to laugh at the patient, we did have a good laugh when I reminded everyone that, in The Three Stooges, Mo would poke Curly in the eyes in the same manner. When Mo tried to poke him again, Curly would use the Eye Poke Defense. He would hold his flat hand up, with the fingers extended, in front of his nose so that Mo’s finger tips could not reach Curly’s eyes.* I joked that our patient should have remembered that trick and it would have helped protect his eyes.
A few hours later, I was surprised to see this same patient come back in, patches still on his eyes, complaining of abdominal pain. He was in a lot of distress and clearly had something serious the matter with him. Only then did we get the rest of the story of what had happened at the bar.
When the eyeball-scratching altercation took place, the bouncer jumped right on the situation and, literally, threw both young men out of the bar. My patient was having trouble with his vision because of his eye injury and his balance because of all the booze he had consumed. When he was thrown out of the bar, he fell, striking his lower abdomen on the top of a fire hydrant.
A guy who has been drinking in a bar usually has a full bladder and a blow to the lower abdomen in this situation can lead to a rupture of the bladder and that is just what happened to our guy. Though he was just kind of sore there during his first visit, it wasn’t until he lost some blood and the blood and urine had some time to irritate his abdominal cavity that he started to get sick. He had to go to the operating room to have his bladder repaired.
Though holding his hand up, like Curly, may have prevented some injury to his eyes, I don’t think it would have done anything to protect his bladder.
*Here is a picture of Mo trying to poke Curly, who is very effectively using the Eye Poke Defense.