I figure something a little light for today… A little humour if you will considering Taslima is about and can also come have some fun here with medicine. Since the rest of my posts (for when they go up) are a torrent of invective, swearing and bile aimed at the idiots of the world.
Medicine has it’s own unofficial language. It’s a language of complete disrespect (for good reasons) that masks the pain and suffering you face as a doctor. It is alleged that the career with the highest incidence of PTSD is not the armed forces, but medicine. I can see why it’s that way atleast during times of peace. And one of the coping mechanisms used to be the medical jokes. The jokes you tell at your patient’s expense that are hidden away. Medical Slang is a dying or dead art. It used to be a coping mechanism because frankly? After you have seen your 40th patient of the day you just need a laugh. And sometimes patients come in with conditions that simply are beyond the pale.
For instance, what would you say to a young man who comes in for vomitting (Emesis for the medics)? You can be nice to him. What if you give him a potent drug that stops vomitting (often used to treat cancer patients) and he still throws up? You eventually realise he is triggering the mechanical reflex of vomitting by sticking his fingers down his throat. You cannot laugh at him, you cannot call him stupid. So you call your other doctor friends and have a laugh. Otherwise you will go CRAZY. The number of tales like this of the top of my head? The Darwin Award, The Harpoon Man, The Homeopathic Emo, The Broken Arm, The Best Form of Contraception… Plenty of cases where you need to laugh. On the one hand these euphemisms and acronyms are hurtful if you read them on the other hand you are removing a coping mechanism for a high stress job, a job so stressful and often thankless that you will probably die younger than your patients (I have no illusions. My mother will eventually lose a leg or two to her job. My dad too. Both are doctors. I know what awaits me with age. My life expectancy is a full 5 years shorter than my patients.).
The history of this is old. Latin used to be the language of medicine and had it’s use in this. You could write things on patient’s charts which wouldn’t alarm them. Even if a patient was dying you could mark the chart but tell the patient that things will be fine so as to keep them happy till the end and stop them panicking. It stopped nosey relatives from dividing up estate by poking though charts or abandoning those who were destined for death. The medical acronym came about to dodge the change from Latin to English.
Some of them are harmless. TTR in the UK stands for Tea Time Review, or “check on Mr. Smith after he has had his tea”. Some of them are funny but hurtful CNS-QNS is Central Nervous System – Quantity Not Sufficient. Pumpkin Positive is another amusing term that indicates that if you shine a pen torch into their mouth their eyes and ears would light up like a pumpkin. There are terms that indicate what happened to a person such as PFO and PGT (Patient Fell Over/Got Thumped). There are terms for treatment and prognosis CTD (Circling the Drain) and TEETH (Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy). There are even terms for each other. In fact most of our “short” terms are for each other.
The most well known of these is the ENT, Ear, Nose and Throat specialists aren’t a “thing”. That’s a medical joke to shorten otorhinolaryngology. But others include Rheumaholiday (Rheumatology is considered a “lite” subject) and the Freud Squad (Psych. If you didn’t already guess).
Then we have the medical students. We have mneumonics (for those who are unaware) which is a phrase or an acronym that allows you to recall information. And medicine is full of them for the aspiring medical student… These are some of the most raunchy ones unimaginable, because the dirtier they are the better you remember them…
Oh! Oh! Oh! To Touch And Feel A Girls Vagina, Ah! Heaven! (Olfactory, Optic, Occulomotor, Trochlear, Trigeminal, Abducen, Facial, Auditory, Glossopharyngeal, Vagus, Accessory and Hypoglossal nerves) are the cranial nerves.
Scared Lads Try Positions That They Cannot Handle (Scaphoid, Lunate, Triquetrum, Pisciform, Trapezius, Trapezoid, Capitate, Hamate) are the bones of your wrist (The Carpals)
There is Obs/Gynae and the ever populare
Pain, Ectopia, Neisseria, Infertility, Chlamidya, Actinomycetes, Gravidae (Causes and Effects of Pelvic Inflammatory Disease)
Not all are raunchy some are based on modern phenomenon.
Labour, Abruption of placenta, Rupture (eg. ectopic/ uterus), Abortion, Cholestasis, Rectus sheath haematoma, Ovarian tumour, Fibroids, Torsion of uterus (Abdominal Pain during Pregnancy)
Some are just weird
Skin colour, Heart Rate, Irritability, Tone, Respiration and together you need to remember to note the time of meconium. (APGAR score for infants during childbirth)
It’s a weird world full of silly medicine humour. Give it a try the next time you need to remember something.
Remember though, raunchier the better. For some obscure reason we fail to remember the nice PG ones and remember the ones about Penis Cages…