Archive for the ‘Language and medicine’ Category

Cuticura, it’ll cure ya

August 23, 2021

(As far as I know, not actually used as an advertising slogan for any of the line of Cuticura skin care products — probably too jaunty and wise-cracking for the company, which seems to have been marketing primarily to women since 1865.)

From my 8/17 posting “The grocery order”: “When I was a boy, I applied Vaseline (from the family medicine cabinet) to minor burns and scrapes”. There was Vaseline — petroleum jelly — and then there was a curious patent medicine for somewhat more serious skin problems, a thick green ointment with an intriguing medicinal scent, then sold in glass jars: Cuticura ( /kjùtɪkjúrǝ/ ).

Now, having recovered this childhood memory, I got curious about Cuticura’s history — and its ingredients. Some of my findings (sketchy, because the company’s website is not at all forthcoming with details, and the Wikipedia entry is skeletal) …

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Peter Mark’s clogged drain

August 13, 2021

Today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro, with a plumber who really knows how to sling synonyms:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 7 in this strip — see this Page.)

Hard to believe that any actual person ever uttered egress conduit for drain pipe, or saponaceous residuum for soapy residue — or, better, soapy gunk. So the plumber’s report on an ordinary household repair is absurd; it’s as if he’d been seized by a terrible fit of technicalism that left him unable to resist thesaurisizing.

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The Grip family

June 13, 2021

Easy and the Dr., bringing help to the manually afflicted. As I become less and less able to hold onto objects, lift them, use tools and utensils, open jars and bottles, and so on — no longer able to coordinate small muscles or summon the strength for many everyday actions, and obliged to endure considerable pain to accomplish the things I can manage —  I have come to rely on Easy Grip utensils and tools from the OXO company and on the Dr. Grip pens from the Pilot company, with their thick bodies and slightly flared front ends.

The Dr. has been a friend of mine since I suffered significant ulnar nerve damage in my right arm in 2003 — damaging or disabling various muscles in my right hand, so that I had to switch as much as I could to my left hand (but handwriting was unswitchable, so that unless I wrote very slowly and carefully, even I often couldn’t decipher the result); and leaving me with constant low-grade pain in that arm and hand, with occasional sharp strikes of electric pain. There wasn’t much to do about that pain, but I could improve my handwriting with well-designed pens from the Dr.

Then, in a separate development, osteoarthritis advanced upon me, appearing in different joints on different days, sometimes with crippling pain. More recently, it has settled pretty much constantly in the joints of my hands, both hands, sometimes making them red and swollen and painful to the touch. Most recently, two fingers on my left hand have developed trigger finger, in which the finger gets locked in a bent position and will release, painfully, with a pop. Dr. Grip has become even more significant in my life, and I’m now appealing to Easy Grip more and more just to manage simple tasks.

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Rollin’ on the roadway

May 2, 2021

The mobility equipment piles up. I now have a cool cane (with four feet); an indoor walker (fairly recently equipped with a tray for carrying things around the house); and now a big fancy outdoor walker — a Rollator! — that can, in seconds, be turned into a comfortable seat to rest in on the street.

And now a tour of my assistive devices, as they’re called in the trade.

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gay therapy

April 13, 2021

An ad in my Facebook feed for a Gay Therapy Center, which briefly gave me pause because of an ambiguity in the Adj + N composite gay therapy. Now, Adj + N composites, like N + N compounds, are notoriously open to multiple understandings, even if we restrict ourselves to general patterns for the semantic relationship between the two parts. In this case, I had a moment of deep unease that gay therapy was to be understood as a treatment composite, parallel to treatment compounds: pain therapy, flu therapy, cancer therapy, etc. ‘therapy to treat condition or disorder X’. Thus viewing homosexuality as a disorder, which would make gay therapy here a synonym of the now-conventional label conversion therapy, for a scheme that proposes to treat homosexuality and cure it.

But, whew, no. The Gay Therapy Center in San Francisco (with a satellite center in Los Angeles) offers “LGBTQ therapy to help LGBTQ people love themselves and each other” — with the composite gay therapy understood as ‘therapy for gay people, to help / benefit gay people’. Indeed, the Facebook ad offered brief videos showing male couples embracing affectionately (other ads have female couples as well). A still from one of these:

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TV Day

April 2, 2021

Today’s my TV — Totally Vaccinated — Day, two weeks after I got my second Pfizer COVID-19 shot, the point when, authorities think, the vaccine is fully effective.

So this morning I ventured out in the neighborhood alone, for the first time in 13 months. With a (penguin) face mask, and using a walker (I’m still working on learning to walk again on my own), and only for a block (I still have the dyspnea problem from well before pandemic time — I had to stop two times along the way to catch my breath — and I’m going through a bad osteoarthritis patch, so most of my joints screamed) — but the hell with all that, it felt wonderful, like a fresh start.

I was wearing my GAY AS F🧁CK t-shirt, but it was cool, so the tee was under a flannel shirt. And on that flannel shirt I had proudly pinned my badge:

(#1)

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The fear begins to lift

March 23, 2021

The fear of death, now that I’ve had both shots of the Pfizer vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. And the vaccine will have taken full effect by April 2nd (Good Friday, though either Easter or Passover would have been a better omen), at which time I can feel reasonably comfortable venturing (masked and suitably distanced from others) out into the world, after nearly 13 months in isolation.

The end game involved some waiting in line that was unusually light and easy, as explained in a NYT Magazine Tip “How to Wait in Line”, by Maria Wollan (on-line on 3/16; in print on 3/21).


(NYT illustration by Radio)

Wollan’s subhead:

Distract yourself to pass the time. If you can, embrace the camaraderie of wanting something en masse.

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The brain health product

February 15, 2021

Yesterday’s Doonesbury has Mike (Doonesbury) and (his wife) Kim (Rosenthal) listening to a mock Prevagen® commercial in which the dietary supplement is openly hawked as a useless (but expensive) placebo for treating mild forgetfulness (with a digression in the 5th panel on a secret ingredient in it derived from the fabulously memorious jellyfish):

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anaphylaxis

February 4, 2021

Today’s morning name, a little exercise in etymology. From NOAD:

ORIGIN early 20th century: modern Latin, from Greek ana- ‘again’ + phulaxis ‘guarding’.

From Michael Quinion’s Affixes site on ana:

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In the bleak midwinter

January 17, 2021

Every year, an emotionally difficult time of the year: Ann Daingerfield Zwicky’s death day is 1/17 (this year a Sunday, today), and my man Jacques Transue’s birthday is 1/22 (a Friday this year). When Ann died, in January 1985, it was in fact extraordinarily cold and bleak in Columbus OH; and then of course Jacques’s birthday was pretty much swallowed up by the aftermaths of Ann’s death (including a memorial service at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, on the Ohio State campus).

This year, I’m in Palo Alto CA, where midwinter is normally wet and cool (though not truly cold), but also green and graced by many winter-blooming flowers. In fact, this year it’s unseasonably dry and what counts as warm for winter here (high temperatures near 70 F., at least for a while), so the edge has been somewhat taken off my midwinter funk over my lost loves.

Into the midst of this have come some touching photos of J in his later years, as he was sliding towards death (which finally came in 2003) — a contrast to the photos of him that I’ve been posting here recently, photos of a strong, vital, handsome younger J.

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