Catching the pinkeye to Tokyo

Not once but twice this year I’ve experienced a mild case of pink eye. This distresses me, because I’ve never had it before in my life (at least not since I’ve been old enough to remember such things), and because I’m seriously grossed out by the disease’s most common vector. Say it with me now: Feces. Yum. How embarrassing, too.

It’s really rather baffled me. I’m a bit obsessive-compulsive about cleanliness, washing my hands immediately after contact with any door, ATM machine or bus or train handle. I don’t actually touch most doors with my hands, using the edge of my sleeve instead. I wash so thoroughly in the bathroom I could probably safely perform surgery afterwards. So how could I possibly end up with a disease most commonly spread by rubbing crap in your eyes? It was a mystery! At least until the girlfriend noted that in both cases the affliction has appeared a few days after a long-distance airline flight.

So that’s just great. Not only is air travel expensive and impossibly inconvenient, our airplanes are full of free-floating particulate poop. Awesome. I propose a new motto for United: “Come fly the feculent skies.” Of course, I should probably switch to another airline now, but…once I make my trip to PAX I’ll totally qualify for their elite flier program, which means free upgrades and stuff.

So I guess I’ll just, you know, wear goggles when I travel from now on.

32 thoughts on “Catching the pinkeye to Tokyo

  1. Maybe there were disgruntled cleaning staff at your hotel? Maybe they sat on your pillows and farted?

  2. Eww. Do they make eyedrops that you could use during your trips as a preventive measure? That seems like the sort of thing that should exist.

  3. Nothing on those airplanes are clean. The blankets are filthy (don’t let the plastic baggie they come in fool you) as are the pillows that have been used by the previous half dozen people who flew before you. Bring a little bottle of alcohol hand cleanser with you (you can find it for $1 at just about any drug store) and use it often. It works great and it’s cheap (and its less than 3 fluid ounces to make the TSA happy).

    Also, remember that by opening door handles with your sleeve instead of your hand, you now have that bathroom nastiness on your sleeve which you will then carry with you for the rest of the day wherever you go and whenever you eat. Use your hands to open the door going in (since you’ll wash them) and then use your paper towel to open the door going out (then throw it away) then you won’t have to worry about contaminating you garments.

    BTW – WTF happened to the Famicom postings on your blog?

  4. Oh…and don’t drink the airplane bathroom water or coffee either. You don’t want to see the holding tanks on the plane where that water comes from…those things are never cleaned. On a plane, if it’s not in a sealed bottle or can, don’t drink it.

  5. There was an episode of Mythbusters where they found out that fecal matter particles end up throughout an area, often way far away from a bathroom. So technically, at anytime you could get pink eye. I got it once during college, but I think that was mostly because I already had a cold, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was anxious about finals/research papers for that semester.

  6. To everyone: keep in mind that fecal matter travels 6 to 8 feet (after already being submersed in water).

    And I recommend keeping your toothbrush in another area. It feels weird at first, but… well, it always feels weird. But it’s for the best.

  7. Yeah, pinkeye is kind of nasty. Now that our son is in daycare, he’s gotten that a few times.

  8. Didn’t you say that you had a cold when you were about to leave for Tokyo? Some conjunctivitis can occur in conjunction with viruses.

    Additionally, you might have had some kind of allergic reaction to something in the air in the Tokyo or the airplane. In which case, it might well be a fecal matter.

    There is also a form that deals specifically with contact lense users, but I don’t think you both with the damn things any more than I do.

  9. Didn’t the same mythbusters also find out that it didn’t really matter since the damn stuff can be just about anywhere and isn’t really that harmful?

    I’m waiting for a goggle joke. I’M WAITING FOR A GOGGLE JOKE.

  10. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for hygeine.
    But damn, the anal retentiveness in here is hilarious.

    “most doors with my hands, using the edge of my sleeve instead”

    You mean the sleeve of your shirt that is pourous and therefore a lovely breeding ground for bacteria that is in direct contact with your body and it’s associated heat source for the rest of the day? Nice.

  11. I really wish I hadn’t read this. I’m air-bound in four days. Better stock up on purell.

  12. Goggle Joke:

    In my experience goggles are the number one vector for pinkeye, but if you want to go around looking like Cory Doctorow I suppose that’s your decision.

  13. So now we know the real reason why so many anime and manga heroes wear flight goggles… they don’t want to come down with a case of Pink Eye.

    Mystery Solved!

  14. Yeah but SEanEF, an airplane is a sealed environment (most of the time) and all that material just gathers up over time.

    Sorry Jeremy, I promised myself I wouldn’t be part of this discussion, but I couldn’t help it.

  15. Not the goggle jokes I was expecting, but they’ll do.

    Yeah, airplanes should probably be disinfected every now and then, but I was mostly talking about in general and things like keeping your toothbrush in another room.

  16. Goggle jokes begin and end with Reiner Wolfcastle from The Simpsons.

    In reference to the Mythbusters episode, they did find a certain amount of fecal matter in most areas surrounding a bathroom, but it was not a significant level of particulates. The issue, as it stands with most environmental concerns, is when it goes from a “fact of life” to “something that must be acted upon”.

    P.S.- Thank you for putting up the warning when you don’t type in your name instead of just deleting the post! It makes morons like me feel like my inane comments will safely make it onto the site. :)

    I am pretty sure this one is staying on the former side for now.

  17. Elrando, it’s cute that in calling out anal-retentiveness you managed to make the most anal-retentive post in the thread.

  18. Parish said: What, because the same joke in the blog entry’s title is too subtle?

    Dammit… I read the entire post and all the comments up to that point TWICE to make sure my comment wasn’t redundant… The entire post, that is, except for the blog’s entry title. D’oh.

  19. Let’s not forget that the act of flushing a toilet (especially with the lid up) propels millions of nasties into the surrounding area.

  20. yeesh, that’s pretty gross. i didn’t know where pink eye originated from, but now that i do it severely changes my opinion of a lot of people i knew in elementary school.

  21. So.. so glad I read all of these comments.

    Apparently crap particles are everywhere at all times and you can’t get away from them.


    I’m sure that won’t drive me slowly insane.

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