Tonight’s entry isn’t really paranormal or supernatural. It’s extremely fucking weird and a little on the terrifying side, but the fate of Gloria Ramirez, I’m sure, has a rational scientific explanation. What makes it so horrifying is that we still don’t know what that explanation was. It’s also about the most unusual emergency room story you’re likely to hear. This was such a weird tale, that it managed to find its way into an episode of the X-Files.
It’s 8:15pm on February 19th, 1994 and Gloria Ramirez is wheeled into the emergency room of Riverside Hospital of Riverside, California. She is suffering from the effects of advanced cervical cancer and is exhibiting signs of bradycardia (a heartrate of under 60 beats per minute, that’s less than a heartbeat a second) and cheyne-stokes respiration (characterized by deep, fast breaths that eventually slow to a stop like apnea). The ER staff administered sedatives and lidocaine to stimulate her heart but when she didn’t respond to any of this, they attempted to defibrilate her heart with the paddles and this is where shit gets hairy.
The staff noted that upon introducing electrical current, Ms. Ramirez’s skin took on a strange oily sheen and a scent described as garlic and fruit came from her mouth. One nurse tried to draw blood and noted the smell of ammonia coming from the tube. Once the blood was drawn, the vials were handed off to nurses who noted the presence of manilla colored particles floating in the captive blood. Promptly, hospital staff began to faint. Mind you, this is not some kind of word of mouth anecdote full of nameless personalities like some of my others. I’m only leaving out the names because to the story and the word allotment, they’re just not necessary, but the case of Gloria Ramirez is, in fact, a widely documented case of an emergency room crisis gone horribly awry thanks to a menu of insane x-factors that science is at a loss to explain. The doctor in charge of the patient promptly complained of nausea and retreated from the staging area to the nurse’s station where she then passed out and then was followed into unconsciousness land by a respiratory therapist. After the staff began to drop like flies, the entire ER was evacuated to the parking lot whereupon a skeleton crew of nurses and doctors hung in, trying to stablize Ms. Ramirez. However, at 8:50pm, a mere 35 minutes past her admission to the ER, Gloria Ramirez was pronounced dead of kidney failure.
Spooky? Totally. Science is at a loss to explain what had happened and some of the theories presented involved medication mixups, but the most commonly accepted but still extremely vague conclusion was that Ms. Ramirez had been treating her pain with a substance called DMSO, which was a solvent that made it easy for substances to pass through the skin and into the bloodstream easily. Tricksters during the 60’s activist movement used to dose police car door handles with DMSO and LSD for high-larious results. Because it’s technically, though remotely, possible, it’s believed that the DMSO underwent a chemical reaction that turned it into dimethyl sulfate in her bloodstream. In the air, this is a poisonous gas and this excuse is used to suggest that puncturing her veins for blood samples released it into the air, causing the hospital staff to lose their collective shit. But medical professionals and forensic investigators don’t really buy it. There’s also the matter of the long lasting medical issues of Dr. Gorchynski, the second ER staffer to faint. She spent two weeks in the Riverside Intensive Care Unit with severe respiratory issues, a newly contracted case of hepatitis and and avascular necrosis (cell death in bones) in her knees. Gloria’s body, kept for two months for investigative purposes, when finally buried, had shown signs of extreme decomposition uncharacteristic of an 8 week old corpse. According to an independent forensic investigator, a proper post-mortem could not be conducted as many of Gloria’s organs had been removed and the interior of her torso had been contaminated with fecal matter. A lot of conclusions could be drawn about this woman’s fate and the people who didn’t want her actual cause of death discovered.