Archive for the ‘Language of medicine’ Category

Irritable vowel syndrome

April 11, 2017

A Scott Hilburn cartoon on Pinterest this morning:


A pun on irritable bowel syndrome. The vowel letters I, A, and O are angry, throwing the letter L out of their club because he’s not a vowel. (The play on Get the hell out of here is a bonus.) Note that this is all about vowel letters, not vowels. (Depending on the dialect, speakers of English have a dozen or so distinct vowels, that is, vowel phonemes.)



March 18, 2017

The Bizarro from 1/6/16:


(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

But elephantitis would refer to an inflammation of the elephant. And elephantiasis is an actual (dreadful) disease. Maybe elephantosis would cover the condition depicted in the cartoon.



December 9, 2016

Yes, an abbreviation. No, not short for non-profit organization in this case, though it sometimes is. It appeared in instructions from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, about preparations for being ultrasounded yesterday:

“NPO (nothing to eat or drink) 6 hours prior to exam.

The left quotation mark was presumably supposed to be matched by a right one, after NPO or after the parenthesis. The real question is why the PAMF staff thought they should use NPO at all. From Wikipedia:

Nothing by mouth is a medical instruction meaning to withhold food and fluids from a person for various reasons. It is also known as nil per os (npo or NPO), a Latin phrase whose English translation is most literally, “nothing through the mouth”.


Pingu watches over the gay boys

October 21, 2016

On AZBlogX, two postings of homoerotic Pingu-based collages (featuring the animated penguin Pingu), 8 in each set: “Pingu: first wave” (here) and “Pingu: second wave” (here) — being birds of the sea, penguins come in waves.

Pingu will then lead us to other pingu- words, only a few penguin-related; and to the pungi, a musical instrument (cobras will be involved).


Morning name: ivermectin

April 22, 2016

My morning name on the 18th, a very useful medication. From Wikipedia:

Ivermectin [generic name; various brand names, e.g. Stromectol. Mectizan] is a medication that is effective against many types of parasites. It is used to treat head lice, scabies, river blindness, strongyloidiasis, and lymphatic filariasis, among others. It can be either applied to the skin or taken by mouth.

Ivermectin was discovered in 1975 and came into medical use in 1981. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most important medications needed in a basic health system. The wholesale cost is about US$0.12 for a course of treatment. In the United States it costs $25–50 [an economic/political side note, but an important one in light of the medication’s utility against some serious scourges].

More on the medication, then some flagrant silliness based on my understanding the name of the medication as a proper name Ivor MecTin, which will lead us to Ivor Novello and a gay world that was at once highly public and deeply secret.


The grief of ulnarism

February 19, 2016

This will turn into another News for Penises postings.

Today’s Bizarro shows a man in the throes of what we might call ulnarism:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 6 in this strip — see this Page.)



November 20, 2015

A Facebook exchange sprung up on the 16th about the expression in the title. The initial poster wondered about

the use by TV characters in emergency rooms or restaurant kitchens of “stat!” instead of “now!” I’d never heard it used in real life, nor on TV, before programs I’m seeing now from the past 15 years or so (at a guess). Its unfamiliarity makes it sound artificial, or contrived, to my ear. Hence my curiosity. Where was I when it became a thing?

The poster pretty clearly recognizes that they might be in the grip of the Recency Illusion, the belief that since you’ve noticed some usage only recently, that usage is in fact recent in the language (when it is likely to be considerably older). In any case, the poster’s recollection is of not having experienced the stat of immediacy (as I’ll call it) until about 15 years ago (the beginning of the 21st century), and then only on tv programs set in emergency rooms. (‘Right now’ would be a better gloss than just ‘now’, by the way.) Well, it was around on tv before that (at least 30 years before that, as other posters pointed out), and with reference to medical procedures or actions in real life — the model for the tv use — it was in use way before that, back to the 19th century.


The ear wash

October 21, 2015

Took my ears to the ear wash yesterday, with gratifying results. This was just a piece of a complex appointment with my family doctor, but it restored the hearing in my left ear, which had been stopped up with cerumen, aka ear wax.


Two medicinal plants

August 27, 2015

Two more plants from breakfast at Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden on Tuesday (the 25th): yarrow (Achillea) and scabious (Scabiosa), both plants with a history in folk medicine, though apparently in different traditions.


Morning name: adipocere

August 25, 2015

An unpleasant topic, one with a high enough Ick Factor that I’m not posting any photos. First, from NOAD2, with the etymology:

a grayish waxy substance formed by the decomposition of soft tissue in dead bodies subjected to moisture. ORIGIN early 19th cent.: from French adipocire, from Latin adeps, adip- ‘fat’ + French cire ‘wax’ (from Latin cera).

(The primary accent is on the first syllable, with a secondary accent on the last.)