Tuesday, March 22, 2005


While waiting for the nurses to prepare the next patient for their colonoscopy, I looked over at the large jar of goop used to lubricate the endoscopes and was quite surprised to find that the jar was labeled: "Hair Curling Gel." Upon closer inspection, the plastic tub did indicate that its contents were used to style hair, especially into curls and waves, and had a picture on the front of a smiling lady with curly hair.

This made no sense, considering my experience with any hair gel is that although it tends to be slippery initially, it tends to become stickier and stiff with time. How could this property of hair gel be advantageous when trying to keep a colonoscope lubricated? I took a second look at the canister, and sure enough, it was labeled as hair gel.

My confusion was later absolved as one of the techs explained that the jars were old containers that had been cleaned and are being reused. Although they held hair gel at one point, they are now used to hold lubricating jelly and are refilled as needed from a larger tub. I went to look at this larger tub, and found some resolution seeing that this 5 gallon container's label indicated that its contents were sterile, medical lubricant.