diaphoretic

Today’s morning name, and for a change I was able to figure out why it was in my head.

From NOAD:

adj. diaphoreticMedicine [a] (chiefly of a drug) inducing perspiration. [b]  (of a person) sweating heavily. ORIGIN late Middle English: via late Latin from Greek diaphorētikos, from diaphorein ‘sweat out’.

It’s the b sense I had in my head, and I got it from watching reruns of the old Emergency! tv show.

About the show, from Wikipedia:


Left to right: Bobby Troup, Kevin Tighe, Randolph Mantooth, Robert Fuller, Julie London

Emergency! is an American television series that combines the medical drama and action-adventure genres. It was a joint production of Mark VII Limited and Universal Television. It debuted on NBC as a midseason replacement on January 15, 1972, replacing the two short-lived series The Partners and The Good Life, and ran until May 28, 1977, with six additional two-hour television films during the next two year.

The series stars Randolph Mantooth and Kevin Tighe as two rescuers, who work as paramedics and firefighters in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The duo formed Squad 51, a medical and rescue unit of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. They work in concert with the fictional Rampart General Hospital medical staff (portrayed by Robert Fuller, Julie London and Bobby Troup), and with the firefighter engine company at Station 51.

… Mantooth became an advocate for firefighters and paramedics after the series ended. He continued, as of late October 2014, to give speeches and make appearances all over the country at special events.

(more on Mantooth later; this is to set out the context of the show)

So where does diaphoretic come in? Throughout the show, he paramedics are forever calling in data from the field to the doctors at Rampart, and taking direction from the doctors there as to what they should do in the emergency. That involves collecting data and reporting it, but also describing the patient and their condition. In the latter function, the paramedics frequently report that the patient is diaphoretic — sweating heavily.

I’m continually struck by this, since I don’t think I’ve ever heard a medical person utter the word, though presumably it appears in medical charts. (Not a single medical person has ever  uttered the term dyspnea to me, when discussing my extreme shortness of breath under exertion, though I know it appears on my charts. I mean, who even tries to pronounce it?)

What is the value of diaphoretic? Well, it’s a single word — though I note it has 5 syllables, so is no shorter than sweating heavily, also 5 syllables, but it is a single word, and we value having a word for some concept. It’s also a technical term, and we’re inclined to believe that using a technical term is always somehow more precise than using an ordinary-language equivalent.

So Randy Mantooth’s paramedic character phones in a report to Robert Fuller’s physician character that the patient is diaphoretic. Very very often.

Mantooth. His Emergency! character is passionate about his service as a paramedic, but also adorably goofy. I had a thing for the character; then I learned more about Mantooth  the man (Mantooth is a genuine Native American name), and got a lot of admiration.

See above, about his advocacy for firefighters and paramedics, and then there’s his advocacy for Native American causes. He is dead-on passionate, and also, apparently, an incredibly nice guy. This is, of course, the persona he projects on Emergency!, so whoever cast him as John Gage in the series really slotted him into the series beautifully. (The cast apparently became close friends, continuing long after the show came to an end. Just to note how important Julie London’s character was, in a show way heavy with masculinity; she was a self-described “tough broad”, but also genuinely empathetic, so an important counterweight to all the guys).

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