Medical news not for penises

(Plenty of talk about male genitals. Not particularly salacious, but some might prefer to avoid this material.)

The term is osteopenia, which I briefly had hopes would combine the stems osteo– ‘bone’ and peni– ‘penis’ and so mean something like ‘hard penis, erection, boner’ (As I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog, I’m fond of penises. For some guys, it’s sports cars; for me, it’s penises.) . But alas, no. From NOAD:

noun osteopenia: reduced bone mass of lesser severity than osteoporosis. ORIGIN 1960s: from osteo– and Greek penia ‘poverty’.

Brief carnal digression. Now, boners, they’re all over my blogs. Tons of them on AZBlogX. But on this blog, plenty of moose knuckles (there’s even a Page on moose-knuckle postings), and moose knuckles are just boners under wraps.

There’s even a Boner magazine. Of course there is. The surprise is that it’s in German: a gay magazine for German-speaking areas of Europe. Here’s an image for their store (with the actual boner just off-camera):

Yes, boner is German slang for ‘erection’. An excellent alternative, from American English (America, the original Golden Mountain of gay pride and queer sexual excess), to the medical-technical Erektion and the native slang Ständer (literally something that stands (up), in everyday use for ‘stand, rack’).

Osteopenia the condition. It all started with crippling muscle pain — this was several years ago — whose source was not identified. An assortment of specialists labored to diagnose the condition, but when it reached the point that I could neither lift my arms nor lie flat without excruciating pain, one of my docs said, it’s something autoimmune, we don’t know what, let’s treat the symptoms, and prescribed prednisone. Which made me crazy but magically erased the pain.

We then decreased the dosage to 5 mg a day, which kept the pain at bay, but produced a kind of permanent low-grade bipolar illness, in which I alternated speed-high days (very productive, I will say) with inert down days. Then to 2.5 mg, where the roller-coaster effect vanished and only bearable pain returned. My current state.

But then the docs checked my bone density, because prednisone is known to do bad things to that, and, yes, I had osteopenia, with increased chances of fracturing my hip in a fall (it’s all probabilities, and not couched in a way that helps decision-making; but doctors are almost always in favor of doing something, just in case). So now I’m being asked to get injections of Prolia every six months, to stop the bone loss; the Prolia is very expensive and has its own set of side effects, some of which sound dire in conjunction with my other medical conditions (which include an intestinal affliction that has largely made me a prisoner at home for several months now). But that’s more than you ever wanted do know. (And please DO NOT offer me advice.)

Osteopenia the word. From Wikipedia:

In Plato’s Symposium, Penae (“deficiency” or “poverty” in Latin) or Penia (Πενία; “deficiency” or “poverty” in Greek) was the personification of poverty and need.

… Penia was considered to be a female, in contrast with Plutus (Wealth) who was male. She is portrayed as old and ugly, in constant need of money and shelter. She often appears in the presence of her opposite Plutus, god of wealth, as in Plato’s “Symposium” and Aristophanes’ “Wealth.”

Other vocabulary from the Wiktionary, all intensely medical (and totally unphotogenic, which is why Boner magazine is up there, to provide some visual entertainment):

English –penia: erythropenia ‘a decrease in the number of erythrocytes, associated with anemia; neutropenia ‘a hematological disorder characterized by an abnormally low neutrophil count’; pancytopenia ‘(pathology) a reduction in the numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in the blood’

Not about penises. So the –penias have nothing more to do with penises than the hammering verb and noun peen do, or the noun penumbra, as treated in my 11/30/15 posting “Morning name: penumbra”:

pen-. Although penises (both real and symbolic) are a recurrent theme on this block (for reasons that have to do with my sex and sexuality), the element pen– in penumbra has nothing to do with male bodyparts. As noted above, it’s from Latin paene ‘almost’ (the penumbra is almost, but not quite, the umbra), while penis is Latin for ‘tail, penis’ (an old metaphor). (Pencil is historically related to penis (via the sense ‘paintbrush’, also in penicillin), but pen (from penna ‘feather’) is not.)

English has a small cluster of pen– words, treated in some detail on Michael Quinion’s Affixes site, which I quoted in my 5/1/13 posting “penultimate”: one ordinary word (peninsula, almost an island), two technical terms of some currency (penumbra and penultimate, almost the last in a series of things), and two rare terms from geology with the variant pene– (peneplain and penecontemporaneous).

Which brings me to my post-penumbra series of News Not for Penises. To recap:

from 2/4/16 in “Some news not for penises”: non-phallic words with /kak/ in them

from 7/5/17 in “More news not for penises”: more on non-phallic cock words

from 6/22/19 in “Over the edge with formulaic language”: on cocked and loaded

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