Everyone has felt a bit toxic at times. After a hard night out, after an off-color remark, or even after eating some dodgy chicken. The idea of toxicity means a lot in our society.
Originally the term, toxic, refers to something that is capable of harming or killing through chemical means. Usually we apply this label to hazardous waste materials, or chemicals that can poison you if ingested.
Calling someone toxic is typically hyperbolic. The term was used literally in the case of Gloria Ramirez. Upon arriving in the emergency room at the Riverside General Hospital in critical condition, things took a turn for the bizarre.
Doctors and nurses treating Ramirez suffered from strange symptoms, 5 of them even had to be hospitalized. I'll be honest, I always thought this was just a Creepypasta. This is the truth about Gloria Ramirez, the Toxic Woman.
Bad Day in the Emergency Room
Gloria Ramirez arrived at the Riverside General Hospital's emergency room at 20:15 on 19 February 1994. She was confused, and complaining of an irregular heartbeat. Gloria was also breathing abnormally.
Medical staff injected Gloria with 3 different kinds of sedatives. She wasn't responding well, and her heart was still freaking out, so they proceeded to perform a defibrillation.
They opened up her shirt and found an oily substance covering Gloria's chest. Almost as though she were sweating oil. That's also when the nurses started complaining of the odd fruity-garlic smell that hung around Ramirez.
Susan Kane, a registered nurse, was tasked with drawing blood. As the needle punctured Ramirez's arm, a new smell flooded the room. This time the smell was similar to ammonia.
Julie Gorchynski received the tube of Gloria's blood from nurse Kane. Gorchynski, a medical resident, noted that the blood sample was filled with yellowish-brown crystals. She was still trying to make sense of it, when the thud of nurse Kane hitting the floor startled her.
Susan Kane was carried out of the room. That's when Gorchynski started to feel ill. She was feeling nauseous and lightheaded, so she left the room. Shortly after sitting down at the nurse's station, Gorchynski also passed out.
The third victim of the toxic miasma hanging around Gloria Ramirez, was Maureen Welch – a respiratory therapist. All 3 were taken outside and given first aid. They regained consciousness, but complained of lingering symptoms. Muscle spasms, partial paralysis, and a burning sensation on their skin.
Doctors ordered that the entire emergency department be evacuated. 23 people fell ill in total, and 5 had to be hospitalized for a time following the incident.
Gloria Ramirez had been diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer in the months leading up to her fateful visit to the emergency room. She died after 45 minutes of doctors' frantic attempts to stabilize her.
Her kidneys failed at 20:50. She left behind a husband and 2 children. Gloria Ramirez is remembered as a bright, friendly person.
Explanations – Wouldn't You Like to Know
At first people thought that the case of Gloria Ramirez was made up. It seems too fantastical to be true. The sort of tall tale that came with the origin of the internet, a modern myth.
After an investigation by Dr. Ana Maria Osorio and Dr. Kirsten Waller from the California Department of Health and Human Services, the event was confirmed to have happened.
The investigation found that none of the victims had abnormal results from blood tests. All the worst affected were women, who worked in proximity to Ramirez, and handled her blood.
Dr. Waller and Dr. Osorio concluded that the event was a simple case of conversion disorder, or mass hysteria. The swamp gas of phenomena that have predominantly female victims.
Julie Gorchynski spent 2 weeks in the ICU suffering from Hepatitis and Bone Tissue Death. These are not common symptoms of Conversion Disorder. She offered her medical records as proof, but was refused by Waller and Osorio.
The Riverside Coroner's office reached out to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for an investigation. They were able to come up with a hypothesis concerning the events of 19 February 1994.
According to LLNL, Gloria may have been using DSMO. Dimethyl Sulfoxide is a powerful degreaser that is known for easily penetrating into biological tissue. The chemical is purported to have powerful anti-cancer, and pain-killing properties, although these claims remain unproven.
DSMO is sold as a gel in hardware stores. Users of the dangerous home remedy claim that it has a strong garlic-flavor. Ingestion of DSMO could explain the smell coming from Gloria's mouth, as well as the greasy discharge. The crystals in her blood may also have been caused by DSMO ingestion.
Gloria Ramirez's body was unable to clear the DSMO she was ingesting, due to kidney failure. This led to a build up in her blood system.
Upon exposure to oxygen, DSMO turns into Dimethyl Sulfone, which crystallizes at room temperature. The Dimethyl Sulfone in her system may have converted into Dimethyl Sulfate when Gloria was shocked by the defibrillator. In this form, it is very toxic, and could have caused some symptoms reported by healthcare workers at the time.
This remains little more than a theory. History remembers her as the Toxic Lady, but it is important to remember that she was more than a medical oddity, she was a human being. The tragic and mysterious death of Gloria Ramirez remains unexplained.