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  • Writer's pictureMacabre Emporium Pod

Episode 50 - The Toxic Lady and Girl Scout Cookies

SARAH:

The Toxic Lady

Gloria Ramirez, the toxic lady
Gloria Ramirez, The Toxic Lady

On February 19th, 1994, it was just an ordinary day at the Riverside General Hospital in Riverside, California. But at 8:15pm that evening, it would change and become anything but a typical day at work. 23 people would become ill and/or injured, 5 people would become hospitalized, and one person would be dead.


31 year old Gloria Ramirez, started feeling unwell. I assume as unwell as anyone with late stage cervical cancer would. She had been diagnosed 6 weeks prior to this night. On this night, she was having heart palpitations, rapidly dropping blood pressure, and was short of breath. She did what anyone else would do and called herself an ambulance. Could it have been just that she was having typical symptoms of cancer, or that it was her body reacting to cancer treatments? When the ambulance and EMTs arrived, they saw the state Gloria was in and loaded her up quickly and put her on oxygen to help her breathing. They headed in the direction of Riverside General Hospital. Once there, she was unloaded and rushed to a room in the emergency department wing.


Doctors came in to start treating Gloria. She was in panic mode, so they gave her a combination of Lorazen, Diazepam and Midazolam to help sedate her while they tried to stabilize her. However, Gloria did not respond well to one of, or the combination of the medications they used to calm her down. She wound up flat-lining and the doctors went into immediate lifesaving measures. They busted out the defibrillator and primed it for use. Before they could actually use it on Gloria, they would have to remove her shirt. When they did this, they noted that she had a glossy/oily sheen across all of her skin. They thought nothing of it other than she must have put lotion on, so they went ahead and zapped her with the defibrillator. They got Gloria back, barely, and resumed working on her, though it seemed everything they tried just wasn’t working. 


One nurse that was standing near the head of the bed said that Gloria had an extremely strong smell of garlic coming from her mouth. Like overpoweringly garlicy. But she wouldn’t be the only one to notice a harsh smell. Susan Kane was in the room and was drawing blood from Gloria to send on for testing in the lab. As she pulled the needly back out of Gloria’s arm, she said that she could smell a very strong ammonia smell coming from the needle and contents within. She held the vial of blood up to the light and noticed there were manila colored (yellow/brown) crystals actually floating in Gloria’s blood. Which if you didn’t know, finding crystals in your blood is 100% not normal


This is when things would go from a tad odd, to extremely weird.


Susan Kane, the nurse that had drawn the blood, fainted. Thankfully Dr. Humberto Ochoa was next to her and caught her before she hit the floor. When she came to, she told Dr. Ochoa that she felt like her face was burning. 


From there, more medical staff in the room began to have mysterious symptoms of their own. Julie Gorchynski, a medical resident that handled the vial of blood after Susan, stated that she also wasn’t feeling well. She would wind up fainting as well, and went into small convulsions. 


Another nurse that was in the room started feeling dizzy and nauseous and went to sit at the nurses station. When another nurse passed by her and asked her if she was alright, she fainted as well. 


Maureen Welch, a respiratory therapist, had been the one delivering oxygen to Gloria in the hospital. She also wound up faiting. 


At this point, everyone is starting to suspect a natural gas leak in the hospital, and the hospital is evacuated. There were a few medical staff that stayed in the room with Gloria trying to stabilize her, but to no avail. Gloria Ramirez was pronounced deceased at 8:50 pm, a short 35 minutes after entering Riverside General Hospital.


The people that had worked in the room with Gloria all kind of agreed that what happened to everyone was not the work of a gas leak in the hospital, but stemmed from Gloria herself. Just to be safe, Gloria’s body was moved to a quarantined room to be held while they waited for her autopsy to be done. Sally Balderas was one of the people that helped move Gloria’s body, and very soon after doing so, started vomiting and screaming that it felt like her skin was on fire.


Everyone that was evacuated was still outside, waiting on hazmat to come in and do a sweep. When they did, there was no biological, chemical or gas leak inside of the building. This only furthered the doctors and nurses that worked on Gloria’s suspicions that whatever happened to them, was because of Gloria.


In another effort to further contain whatever Gloria brought in with her, she was sealed inside of an aluminum casket, and put back into the quarantine room. After this, the emergency rooms were opened up to be used again. 


In total, 23 people in the emergency department wing of the hospital reported some type of illness, be it nausea, vomiting, skin feeling like it was burning, fainting. 5 of the hospital staff were hospitalized, even after Gloria had been sealed up in the aluminum casket.


Susan Kane was in the hospital for 10 days dealing with her symptoms. Julie Gorchynski was in for 2 weeks and was dealing with developing hepatitis and avascular necrosis in her knees. She wound up being off of work for six months due to having to use crutches because of all of the bone density she lost from the necrosis. Others experienced temporary paralysis, severe dizziness and disorientation and many other symptoms.


But what exactly happened to Gloria that was passed on to the hospital staff????


One week after Gloria was declared deceased, she had her first autopsy done. The medical examiner waited a week in hopes that whatever Gloria had going on had subsided enough to not be re-released and make anyone else sick. Those working in the morgue suited up in full hazmat gear as precaution and went to work. When the reports and lab work came back, it showed Gloria was clean. Not an ounce of any chemical or and radioactive materials were found in her system. They did find the medications that the doctors had given her, as well as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Tigan (anti-nausea pill), and Lidocaine (numbing agent), which is very common to be in the systems of those with cancer and getting cancer treatments such as chemo-therapy.


Gloria’s cause of death came back as heart complications stemming from kidney failure. Her cancer, plus the medications taken had caused the kidney failure. It also showed that she was going through the early stages of liver failure. Because of her liver failure, she had a backup of toxins in her system, which led to her heart problems, and her eventual death. 


But this did not add up to how 23 people wound up getting sick in the hospital.


Gloria’s body was resealed again, and 5 weeks after the initial autopsy, she had a second one performed. This time they took samples of tissues throughout her body. During this autopsy, the Department of Health was making their rounds and doing their own investigation into what happened that night. Everything they tested came back negative for anything out of the ordinary.


With this, the Department of Health decided that Gloria did indeed die from heart problems, and went as far as to proclaim that everyone else that got sick that night were just dealing with a mass psychogenic illness AKA mass hysteria. Thiry-some people were talked to that were in the building that day and a common theme was found among them. It was mostly women that became ill, as well as those that had not eaten dinner that day. It was said the ones that just felt nauseous happened to be because they hadn’t eaten. Yet the ones that got severely ill were all women. Because women were most often the ones to be hit by mass hysteria. The men that were in the room also said they were feeling unwell, but it was only the women that had felt it severely by fainting and feeling their skin was burning.


The hospital workers were not ok with this “summary” given by the Department of Health. Julie Gorcynski wound up suing the hospital because she was unable to collect workman’s comp due to the DHO report, even though it was from something that came from the hospital. 


What had happened to Julie was researched by Lawrence Livermore Laboratories. They used Gloria’s samples against Julie’s. They also did a FULL lab request on Gloria’s sample. They did find something interesting.


They found dimethyl-sulfone (DMSO). It's a natural chemical that can be found in trace amounts within one's body. Eating a lot of plant based foods, or eggs - really anything containing sulfur in it. Once it is broken down by your digestive tract, the dimethyl sulfone will show up in small trace amounts in your body. Trace amounts, very tiny numbers. DMSO also naturally decomposes in about three days and by itself is harmless in any concentration. 


Gloria’s sample from 6 weeks after her death, she had at least six the amount of dimethyl-sulfone (DMSO). But keep in mind that this was 6 weeks after death. While she was alive, it would have been hundreds of times higher, since it naturally decomposes in about 3 days. 


Scientist Pat Grant, a researcher in the case, did more digging into this and noted that dimethyl-sulfone (DMSO) and dimethyl-sulfoxide (DMSO2) have one oxygen atom in difference. 


It was also found that prolonged usage of DSMO2 will cause damage to the lens of your eye. With that, it was blacklisted as a direct medication from the FDA. It IS still used today, just in very diluted concentrations

.

In the 1980s, scientists stated DMSO2 could be used as a cancer treatment - a “cure-all” if you will. People could literally walk into the hardware store, buy some DMSO2 and rub it on areas that had muscle pain, next morning it would be gone. However, DMSO2 in high concentrations is also a super powerful degreaser - paint remover, oven cleaner that was commonly used in the 80s. When it is used it has a heavy odor of garlic - much like the smell coming from Gloria’s mouth when she entered the hospital. 


Tigan, the anti-nausea medication I mentioned earlier as showing up in her lab workup, breaks down into amines in the body. Amines are related to ammonia, which could explain the ammonia smell in Gloria’s blood sample that was taken.


In its appearance, when used on the skin, DMSO2 typically looks like an oily gel type of lotion. Just like the sheen that Gloria had on her when they opened her shirt to put the defibrillator on her.


While all of this is just hypothetical, given the time and the fact that DMSO2 could be used as a cancer ‘cure-all’, Gloria may have tried this as a home remedy for her cervical cancer, especially since she had only found out 6 weeks prior to going to the hospital that she had cancer, and it was already late-stage. So did she try this in hopes that it would cure her cancer? 


There was no DMSO2 was not found in her body, it was DMSO. The DMSO would need to encounter a lot of oxygen to turn into DMSO2. Pat Grant thought about it, and remembered that Gloria was given oxygen via a mask while en route to the hospital, and again AT the hospital. And that would make it very easy to change DMSO to DMSO2 with concentrated oxygen like you get from an oxygen mask.


It was also found that DMSO2, when found at room temperature, contained small crystals - like the ones found in the blood vial. Pat Grant did an experiment and added DMSO2 to room temp blood and crystals began to form. This explains a lot, but at any concentration, DMSO and DMSO2 are NOT lethal.


Pat Grant did more investigating and found another thing. DMSO4 (dimethyl-sulfate). Simply put…nerve gas. It had been tested in the 1970s/1980s as an agent for nerve gas. It dated all the way back to World War 1, when France and Germany tested it for use in chemical warfare.


In 1987, DMSO4 was found to be super dangerous. It would only take ten minutes of exposure to ½ gram per cubic meter to kill someone. Of the 20 symptoms reported in hospital, 19 of them are directly linked to symptoms of DSO4. The only one that wasn't linked was vomiting - scientists stated that it was never seen in any of their experiments. However, if you search DMSO4 now, it shows that vomiting is indeed one of the symptoms.


It is apparently really easy to make DMSO into DMSO2 by simply adding oxygen. It is not as easy to make DMSO4. Two methyl bonds would need to be broken, and those 2 need to connect to Oxygen twice over. It takes a lot of energy to break it down even once, let alone twice. But there was something that used a lot of energy, or rather, created a lot of energy - the defibrillator.


Pat Grant thought that the DMSO2 was electrocuted by the defibrillator as that would have given it enough energy to break apart the bonds it had or to restructure itself with other chemicals/elements in Gloria’s body. Other scientists agree. However, all of this is hypothetical. But, if this is what happened (which many people are) this would have essentially turned the hospital into a gas chamber. Not enough to be lethal, but definitely enough to make numerous people sick. 


**Sciency info thanks to a video on youtube from Wendigoon.


There was a third autopsy done by the family's request. The coroner came and did a private autopsy ten weeks after Gloria’s death. They noted that her heart was missing, which seems on par since they needed samples of the heart, and the whole heart to dissect it to figure out what was wrong with it. There were also a lot of internal organs that had traces of feces on them, which again was on par since after 10 weeks a lot of decomposition had already happened, which means bowels would have opened - therefore, contacting the rest of her internal organs. Conspiracy theorists said it was all done as a coverup - of what I don't know, but there was no proof or merit to back any of the conspiracy theories up.


Gloria was laid to rest ten weeks after her death, on April 20, 1994 in Olivewood Memorial Park in Riverside, California. Her family continues to deny that Gloria ever used DMSO as a home remedy. It could be that they didn’t know she was using it. It could be that they did know, but didn’t want to think that she had a hand in causing her own death. Gloria didn’t do anything wrong, it was a lot of little things that seemingly added up to her death that were out of her control. 


To this day scientists still work with DMSO, DMSO2 as well as DMSO4 and use Gloria’s case as a footnote in their findings in hopes that this never happens again in the future. 


Let’s hope it never does, because that is terrifying. 


 

DAVID:

The History of Girl Scout Cookies


GSC, Girl scout cookies
Girl Scout Cookies

Ah, the start of a new year. When we all want to do better than the last. Some of you might want to get your finances straight. Some of you might want to go out and learn something new. Maybe even some of you want to get in better shape and are doing well and staying on track but be careful soon they will appear.


 Who you might ask? Oh I’m sure you know who I mean no, you know EXACTLY who I mean. Those little smiling devils in green or brown vests, offering sweet temptations in many shapes as they have them piled high.


 You easily ignore their calls when you see them at the store fronts but its  too late for younow as you are thinking about the treasures the offer. You hope they leave the territory the have staked claimed to before you leave. But they haven’t. They are still there.


 As you checkout you try to ignore them but they are staring you down with soulless smile just waiting for you to come close enough. But this time you can’t resist you been in the store too long and their first song hasn’t escaped your mind. Their second call does you in. ...Would you like to buy some cookies?


Now I’m not talking about real devils of the sort but I am talking about the Girl Scouts and their cookies. Its been a long time joke the Girl Scouts have their cookie sales at this time of the year as their are in cahoots with gyms nationwide. 


I was going to bring an inspirational tale this week but as this is one of our listeners’ daughter Ayra’s first year as a Girl Scout I figured it was time I covered this topic as Sarah you know my family was big into both Boy and Girl Scouts and you have heard about  and seen the stacks of cases of cookies my sister used to have stored in her house causing a temporary increase of her houses value for about two months and nicknamed the cookie vault during those times.


So real quick as this topic could be a separate episode on its own, and I’m sure my mother would be excited to hear this, the Girl Scouts were founded by Juliette Gordon Lowe in 1912 after meeting with Sir Robert Baden Powell, who founded the Boy Scouts the previous year. As she returned to her home in Savannah, Ga she telephoned a distant cousin saying “I have something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start tonight,” and on March 12, 1912 the Girl Scouts were born.


It wouldn’t be until 1917 that the first Girl Scout cookies were sold in Muskogee, Oklahoma by the Mistletoe troop. This first cookie sale was intended for the girls of the MIistle Toe Troop to raise money to send care packages to WW1 troops from OK.


  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 cup sugar (plus an additional amount for topping)

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  • Roll dough, cut into trefoil shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top if desired.

  • Bake in a quick oven (375°) for approximately 8 to 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Makes six- to seven-dozen cookies.


I will post a link to the recipe in our facebook group but remember to reduce your quantities unless you are wanting seven dozen cookies. 


Five years later in July  1922, the Director of the Chicago Girl Scouts, Florence E. Neil, wrote an article for The American Girl the Girl Scout Magazine, suggested cookie sales as a fundraiser, and provided the recipe which is the same one I had just read. 


In her article, she stated that ingredients for a batch of up to six or seven dozen would cost 26 to 36 cents. But to put this in today’s money I averaged it out to simplify it to 31 cents in 1922 equaling $5.64 today in 2024. She would suggest selling them for .25 - .36 cents a dozen. And the average came out to be .30 cents again making them  $5.64 a dozen. I used the month of July for these since I have an exact month for the first time doing this, so for a second here if you want to complain about Girl Scout cookies being six dollars a box these days just stop. Just pay the extra 36 and eat the entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting like I know you are going to do.


Up until 1928, these cookie sales were for general fundraising, this year it would be suggested that the troops start selling cookies to become self-supporting which probably was a blessing in disguise as the Great Depression would happen the following year.


Even through the Great Depression the Girls would still push on making their cookies, which probably was a small slice of heaven for everyone struggling. The Girl scouts would continue to bake their own cookies either at home or where the held their meetings. As popularity of items soar like we are seeing over a ugly ass mug right now at the time when we recorded this episode.


The Girl Scouts of Philadelphia would organize the first commercial sales in 1934 contracting with an unknown commercial bakery with the success of the girls of Philly other councils will contact them to be included. With these commercial bakers now producing the cookies, girl scouts would now learn five skills through the now establish cookie program that many of us know and my family knows all too well. 


The skills the scouts would develop:

  1. Goal Setting

  2. Decision Making

  3. Money Management

  4. People Skills

  5. Business Ethics


Before the start of WW2 in 1938 the popularity of Girl Scout cookies would soar to 10 million (over 219 million today). During the World War with the rationing for the war effort Girl Scouts would sell calendars along with the cookies. These calendars would have different drawings of girls scouts doing various scouting activities for each month.They would also collect fat cans to aid in the war effort as the glycerin in pig fat could be used to make explosives and gun powder.  

After World War 2 in the 1950s, three cookie varities would be introduced. These would be the shortbread that has been there since the beginning but with an official name now. The peanutbutter Sandwich, and the destroyer of diets and self control the chocolate mint or as we know today as the thin mint. Five years later a cookie similar to an Oreo would be introduced and nearly 30 commercial bakers are producing girl scout cookies.


From the 1970s to today different fllavors have come and gone and 125 million boxes would be sold by 1975. Near the end of the 70s, the number of bakeries would start to be reduced in the 1970s to keep cost down and uniform in the cookies to four and eventually down to 2 in the 1990s, ABC Bakers in North Souix City, Sd  and Little Brownie Bakers in Lousiville, KY.These are the only two bakeries that have the rights to make these little diet smashers in the United States to present day. 


So why do the cookies have two different names. The reasoning behind this is because each Girl Scout council contracts with either ABC Bakers or Little Brownie Bakers. The only cookie that has the same name for both it the Thin mint.


Fun Facts!!!

  • About 200 Million boxes of cookies are sold each year.

  • Girl Scout Cookies do not have any preservatives and halal certified meaning they are kosher and offer a gluten free chocolate chip cookie.

  • There has been over 50 different types of cookies over the years but three are mandatory to be sold every year. Shortbread, Thin Mint, and peanut butter sandwiches. 

Some of the previous flavors have been :

My personal favorite, Lemon Creme Sandwiches

Golden Yangles a cheese snack cracker similar to a cheez it

Apple Cinnamon a apple shaped cookie

Kookaburras, similar to a little debbie start crunch

A cinnamon bun style named Cinna Spins

Ole Oles made of pecans and coconuts covered in powdered sugar


For a short time one cookie was more popular than the thing min and thats the raspberry rally from last yaer and was selling for over 100 dollars on Ebay and will not be returning this year. 


World’s Largest Girl Scout Cookie was made in 2009 in Philadelphia for ther council’s 75th anniversary weighing in at 75 pounds, 8 feet in diameter made of shortbread and in the shape of the girl scouts logo


In 1981 United Airlines bought  two million girl scout cookies to serve as desserts for its passengers. This cost 50,000 dollars in March of that years totalling 164k today. 


Jan Davis, retired astronaut took short bread cookies with her to space in 1992. 


The top Five cookies in the USA are

  1. Thin Mints

  2. Caramel deLites/Samoas

  3. Peanut Butter Patties/Tagalongs

  4. Do-si-dos/Peanut Butter Sandwich

  5. Lemonades/Lemon-Ups



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