Sunday, March 30, 2008

Speak English

Just a few days back, someone mentioned in passing the scarcity of medical jargon in my blog! No doubt casting some doubts on my legitimacy as a practising physician.

Made me smile at the thought. Relax. No worries, I can certainly toss out quaint medical phrases such as code blue and torsades de pointes without missing a beat during heart-thumping emergencies. Just did that two days back. Swear I don't even stumble tongue over heels pronouncing complex words such as osteogenesis imperfecta.

Of course there are days I'm sure some of my colleagues would wish I wasn't as proficient.

Colleague : Could I put up a patient with a potassium of 1.8 for an emergency removal of implant?
Paul : Sure, we live to serve. Of course with that extent of untreated hypokalemia, you'd have to take the unfortunate patient back in a body bag. Sans implant though.

But out of the hospital, I tend to censor most of my medical lingo. Doubt many of the laymen around would understand when I complain about how the more irritating house officers around ( only a couple fortunately! ) seem to have undergone collective lobotomies during their oncalls. So myocardial infarcts turn into heart attacks, arrythmias into palpitations and pneumonias into that lung infection.

Even have some valid reasons behind it. Since I started work in the big city, I've found that my workmates and my after-work friends - well how do I put this? - they rarely overlap. Placed into separate compartments, they certainly don't mix together as well as I'd imagine - though to give them both proper credit, I honestly haven't had much chance to bring the twain together.

Gestures
Good God. Duck! Bad joke coming!!

And honestly the jokes I tell at work? Certainly not as easy to explain to the horrified friends out of work. Laymen tend to take medicine extremely seriously ( and so they should! ) so somehow the morbid, zany black humour we have at work doesn't translate as well outside.

Paul : Imagine the intern enthusiastically presenting the case when the patient's already keeled over dead behind him. God, I was desperately holding onto the oxygen tank to keep from laughing out loud.
Jared : He was dead? OMG. He was dead?
Paul : Yup.
Jared : He was dead?
Paul : I think you're missing something.

I admit you gotta be there. It does lose something in translation.

Oh btw, that little test I mentioned. I passed it.

12 comments:

lada-hitam said...

I think it's sexy and exotic :) Especially if I'm not in the position of having to understand the meaning of those medical jargon. It'd feel like listening to a song in foreign language or like American thinks that British accent is sexy.

Ah-Bong said...

wakakakaka.. i certainly can imagine how you're trying so much not to spit out laughing alright. LMAO

and ooo congrates on that passing! :D

Anonymous said...

i adore your posts !

on use of jargons.... i have no idea how u actually do control them.

and since i can't control mine, i nod and smile when others use theirs. or annoy the freekas outta them by asking repeated when they do. -.-

Glog said...

I know how it feels...
I lvoe using the word prima facie...

Emo-Happiness said...

Instead of using
Osteogenesis Imperfecta .. Try
Britle Bone Disease

..

For sure.. some people do know SOME medical jargon.

etc.

ED..

Erectile Dysfunction..

That's very important.. VERY

Err.. by the way. Any jargon for a big penis? That will be a eye opener...

Quentin X said...

@emo-happiness. There is a medical jargon for a big-penis: megalophallus. You might like to read this report of the condition as a consequence to priapism in sickle cell anemia: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10962334 Unfortunately, I don't have the gene.

Actually, it can be difficult to switch from medical lingo to patient-speak despite doing it on a daily basis. There are some terms that just can't be translated without losing meaning. For example, ACE Inhibitors,calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers will just be blood-pressure medicines. It is sometimes difficult to convince a patient that they need more than one anti-hypertensive.

Kara said...

Osteogenesis imperfecta happens to be my favorite word:-) As a psychologist-in-training I, too, have an appreciation for those that know how to gracefully turn on and off their use of jargon. Glad I found your blog.

chase / chubz said...

hahaha.
i find technical talk very sexy.
even though i don't understand it.
they sound so cool.

Little Dove said...

Way to go for peau d'orange and Guillain Barre.

Congrats on passing the exam! :)

savante said...

Hardly sexy, lada hitam :) But Brit accents are admittedly hawt!

It was damned funny! Even the specialist looked a bit stunned, ah bong. It was a really ill patient la and there was a DNR but still...

Thanks, anon :) Glad you came.

Use it more, glog.

They would still stare at me, emo. Takes a lot of education.

Just tell 'em it's all good for ya, quentin :) I know how difficult it is telling them about antihypertensives. Imagine our non compliance here!

It's just such a cool, officious sounding word, right, kara?

It does, chase.

Well it's just a small test, lil dove. But thanks!

paul

nakedwriter said...

This is one of the best posts you've ever written - and ooh - mighty konkrats for the passing of your medical test.

Your acute verbosity sends my action potentials firing wild. Will you come tickle my other hemisphere sometime?

Anonymous said...

stumbled across your blog and just thought i'd send a holler. that and say there probably isn't any need to defend yourself against accusations that you're not a physician. most people reading the blog aren't connected to medicine, or only peripherally so. they probably would just accept 'as is.' besides, the internet is pretty much a fantasy realm and you can be anybody you want. so if you want to be a doctor here, does it really matter if anyone contravenes you?

that being said (since you took the liberty of defending yourself as a real-life physician), this post makes me think you're not a doctor. maybe a nurse, tech, or PA. the examples you wrote certainly make me think so. for one, i can't imagine why you would throw out OI as an example of medical jargon. osteogenesis imperfecta is not a "complicated" word to say, and doctors call it OI. we love abbreviations. also you commented in an earlier post about how med students are overly pedantic and learn conditions/diseases that they won't see... and yet you list OI. not exactly something we see every day. and then why you choose OI as an example in the same breath as torsades is beyond me. i would think you would choose two complicated words pertinent to your practice. if you're a cardiologist, why not torsades and WPW? if you're a specialist in rare genetic diseases, why not OI and Ehlers-Danlos? but OI and torsades? makes me think you just opened up "the layman's big book of medical words" and picked two terms you've never seen.

and that little vignette about sending someone with a K of 1.8 to get an implant removed? sounds ridiculous, has no context, sounded like a conversation you overhead. or sounds like you may have been the one that actually asked if the patient could go to the OR with an "untreated" K of 1.8 ("untreated K"? really.)

maybe you are actually a doctor, but the way you write about the medical aspects of your life really make it sound otherwise to the trained eye. but hey, remember my qualification at the beginning? you can be anyone you want on the internet ;) so happy virtual-doctoring.