My book.

My book.
"Fascinating" Stephen S. Hall. writer, N.Y.Times magazine. "Hard to put down." A.C.P.A., American Chronic Pain Association.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How come you know our language?

Ciao. Ola. Bonjour. Edema. Cutaneous. Abrasion.

My cat, Sassy, is sick. We were in the exam room at the vet's office. I went to pick her up to calm her down. In her fear she scratched me - right across the healing incision from the battery change I had about 7 weeks ago. The vet took a look. "You should see your doctor about getting some antibiotics so it doesn't get infected." Normally I have no interest in taking them, especially when it is 'just in case' but I lost the first 2 implants to infections. I could not afford to lose this one.

A med student, Mike (pseudonym), was doing his rotation at Dr. Rogers (pseudonym), office. He saw me first. I showed him the scratch. I also pointed out a little red area by the side of the left side of my mouth where I have no feeling. "What happened to your face that you have no feeling?" he asked.

"I have a Sturge-Weber syndrome, you may not know what that is." To my surprise he did. The rest of what I explained was mostly unknown to him.
I rattled off the important information. "The feeling was lost from a thermocoagulation rhizolysis procedure - you probably have not heard of that." No. he had not. "I had an MVD", he did not ask what that was or indicate he knew, "that paralyzed the face." I finished my dissertation. He seemed to get the general picture.

Dr. Rogers came into the room and asked Mike to tell him why I was there.

"What does she need to do for this? What does she need to look for?"
The student looked at me. "You need to wash the area, keep it clean and make sure you see no edema." I knew what he meant but had to make sure he knew I knew. "You mean no swelling?"

It is a funny thing about medical terms. I worked in hospitals for many years, started a physician assistant training program, and of course, been hospitalized many, many times. I know the lingo. I do not know the number of times it has been held against me, "Why do you talk like that?" Knowing the words is a problem for some doctors (and other medical people). Many other pain patients have told me they hear the same thing. It is odd that our intelligence and ability to learn the 'language' of med-speak is not as appreciated as if we spoke to our docs in, say, french.

I told Mike "When I started the PA program we were told to learn medical terminology before school started."

We had a book we were assigned, just like the French and Spanish textbooks we had in language class in high school and college. It was no different than any other foreign language I had to learn.

I speak 3 languages: English, some Spanish, and the language of medicine.

Erythema, tractotomy, fusion. Arrivederci, adios, au revoir.

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