What does Mardi Gras really mean? To a very few, it is a celebration of sacrifice and rejoicing.

To many, many more, it is simply another excuse to get intoxicated and party without restraint.

What does Mardi Gras mean to me? It means treating a seemingly endless line of facial lacerations that will parade through the ER doors. It means wallowing in vomit and feces and urine the entire night, as unconscious, alcohol-poisoned partiers are carried into the ER. It means STD checks, HIV testing and dispensing multiple packs of “morning-after” pills to the young (mostly female) Mardi Gras devotees that awake in horror the next day to the realization that their drunken sexual escapades could have very real and dangerous consequences.

Sadly, it means watching hordes of intelligent, and usually honorable people voluntarily turn over their freedom of choice to a bottle of alcohol and the misguided notion that they do not have be responsible for their actions.

Forgive me if I fail to find humor or frivolity in the suffering they inflict on themselves and others.

Steve Sainsbury

MD, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center

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