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Hysterical Fur Ball

20
Sep
2012
 

By Jessie

In the last couple of months I’ve had reason to visit the surgeries of several different health specialists.

As such, I’ve become quite interested in the fascinating topic of medical slang and professional jargon. (Hours spent in waiting rooms staring at posters sternly reminding you to have a flu shot, or detailing the intricacies of the endocrine system will do that to a person.)

At one appointment, after peering down my throat for quite a long time, a very nice Ear, Nose and Throat specialist gravely informed me that I was suffering from Globus Pharyngis, otherwise known as a “lump in one’s throat”.

He then drew a helpful little diagram of the mysterious inflammation on a sheet of paper for me to take home and refer to at my leisure. It wasn’t until hours later when I pulled it out of my bag, that I noticed, in the spidery handwriting all doctors seem to excel at, he had captioned the image "Hysterical Fur Ball".

I’ve since come to understand that this is code for “your patient is a crazy hypochondriac who should spend less time Googling ‘throat cancer symptoms' whilst surrounded - no doubt - by her 300 screeching, orphaned cats, and more time engaged in tasks that are useful to society. Picking up litter perhaps, or handing out cupcakes.”

(I know this, because after reading the specialist’s letter, my referring GP looked at me with one eyebrow raised and said “hmmmm” in a VERY judgmental manner.) 

Trust me, I'm a doctor A quick Google search (oh, the irony) revealed a whole new world of informal medical terminology. Varicose vein surgery is often called digging for worms, and a loop-the-loop indicates a flamboyant rearrangement of the intestines. A UBI is an Unexplained Beer Injury and a VIP is a Very Intoxicated Person. Gravity Assisted Concrete Poisoning refers to a person who has fallen from a height.

Medical acronyms are certainly alive and well (ho!) ATS means Acute Thespian Syndrome (someone faking illness for attention or to get out of work), also known as LDF (Lying Down Fit). A FABIAN suffers from Felt Awful But I’m Alright Now Syndrome.

Some acronyms have multiple meanings. WNL can refer to a patient who Will Not Listen or more ominously to the paramedic profession (We Never Looked). GOMER means Get Out of My Emergency Room, which often eventuates into a 'Gomergram' – ordering all possible tests because a person is unable to explain what is wrong with them.

If you’re YOYO – You’re On Your Own – because unfortunately, GOK (God Only Knows) what’s wrong with you. In this case, TEETH might apply (Tried Everything Else, Try Homeopathy).

The Lipstick Sign is used on patients who, if well enough to put it on, are well enough to be discharged, and Handbag Positive describes a confused elderly lady lying on a hospital clutching a handbag. Anaesthetists apparently use the Woolworths Test – if you can imagine the person shopping in Woolies, it’s safe to give a general anaesthetic.

Take a closer look at your referral forms next time you’re issued one by your GP. In the UK, secret patient descriptions include: GROLIES (Guardian Reader of Low Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt), FLK (Funny Looking Kid) or GPO (Good for Parts Only). And they’re the nicer ones.

Medical specialists have their own slang equivalents. Surgeons are known as slashers, pathology collectors can be vampires, leeches or blood suckers. A proctologist might also be a rear admiral and anaesthetists are the gassers.

While many of these terms are highly insensitive and politically incorrect, I guess when you’re surrounded by death and illness and massive trauma on a daily basis, you need some strategies to deal with the emotional fallout. I imagine humour - even at its blackest - would be welcome wherever you can find it.

But what do you think? Have you ever heard of similar terms being used? Perhaps you work in the healthcare industry and can add your own examples of informal medical jargon?

Jess x

PS: Hysterical Furball remedies are also most welcome…

54 Responses to

Hysterical Fur Ball

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said:
September 25, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Thanks Gracie10, there is of course the Aussie slant on laughing at accidents. I do this too but I think this is something else. Let me tell you a really 'funny' story. My éx'and his new wife bought a lovely new cabin cruiser. The first day they decided to stay out over night on Darwin Harbour but ended up swamping the boat. They ended up clinging to an esky, naked, for 4 hours, in shark, croc and stinger infested waters until they were saved... Now I do see the Aussie humour in this situation. They survived so now it's funny. Is this the same humour??? I don't think so.

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gracie10 said:
September 25, 2012 at 6:15 PM

That is a truly funny story Jafa. Wouldn't have been if they hadn't been ok, obviously. Most of my kids injuries were not serious, and I think the humour is in what they were doing to inflict these injuries, rather than in the injuries themselves. When one of my sons went headfirst over the handlebars of his pushbike and knocked himself out as well as making quite a mess of his face, there was no laughter and the doctor organised very promptly for him to be admitted to hospital overnight to be kept under observation in case of concussion. I agree with you about the wait times - I have had to wait as long as 7 hours, and the hours some of the doctors work when on emergency are just absurd. Defintely more funding required.

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said:
September 25, 2012 at 6:23 PM

jaffa NO PATIENT IS LEFT FOR LONG IS WHAT WE CALL TRIAGE ..THE MOST ACUTE PEOPLE ARE SEEN FIRST and no ..one is belitting any patient as that is a one thing we didnt do but we did laugh ..when i had to leave the ward when i couldnt walk or feel my arm i waited 8hrs as the girls were really busy and i just laid down and waited ..lighten up girl

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September 25, 2012 at 9:58 PM

having had cause to visit both hospitals and doctors frequently in recent years, I find that a sense of humour in both the patient and doctor is a most welcome relief. When I suffered my first heart attack, and the doctors had me hooked up to about 100 different gadgets, they allowed my husband to come into the emergency room to sit with me. When he walked in, he asked the doctors, "What are you doing?: to which the doctor replied "Checking our her heart". "Good luck" said my husband"because she doesn't have one". I have had three heart attacks in the past 10 years, and my husband is in very poor health, but I have found that if you are really sick, you will not have to wait very long at the hospital. Of course somebody who has had a heart attack, or split their head open, etc, will get prefered treatnment by the triage nurse and be seen faster, than somebody who is there with a cold, or a hang nail. If you do not like waiting at the hospital, go see a private doctor - you will probably have to wait there as well. I have seen people eating junk & drinking soft drink while waiting at the hospital to see a doctor, then they complain of having a sore stomach. I have had to wait hours to see a doctor at other times, but I know that if I was considered serious or in danger, I would see a doctor very quickly. As for laughing etc., lighten up and laugh yourself. The best thing to make you feel better is to make fun of yourself, and share a laugh with somebody else, especially a hard working doctor or nurse.

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said:
September 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM

thanks jimmy ..hope all is ok with you now and yes its good to laugh or else we would all go under

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Mojito said:
September 26, 2012 at 11:04 AM

When medical people are talking about an 'acute appendicitis' it has nothing to do with how it looks! It means of sudden onset.

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gracie10 said:
September 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM

on the subject of appendicitis. one of my adult sons was admitted to hospital a number of years ago with suspected appendicitis. i was unable to visit the hospital on that day but was able to speak with him on the phone. he told me (greatly disgusted) that they were unsure if it was indeed appendicitis as he did not appear to have lost his appetite. but, he said, i have, i only had one sandwich and two muffins for smoko, that's hardly anything. yes, i said, but they are probably not aware that you usually eat an entire horse. he did end up having his appendix removed, which is good as it was adhering to his bowel.

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kragzy said:
September 26, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Goodness Jafa! Let me clarify - this is not the result of an accident or misadventure. This is the result of drunken boys playing silly games. Of course the A&E staff treat all patients with compassion and care - in this case, far more than he deserves. The fact remains however, that his stupidity requires A&E resources to be directed away from deserving victims of accidents and emergencies in order to deal with the results of stupid drunken behaviour. Which part of this deserves respect? A&E staff are human too. Like all normal people, if you don't laugh, you get angry and that helps no-one. I can assure you that their private reactions are just that - private.

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Ozmaid said:
September 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Well said kragzy, well said! :)

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midgeonly said:
September 26, 2012 at 1:11 PM

Jafa those frontline people who spend a minimum of three years (or in my case six years) studying to work in a profession for which you believe they are so clearly unsuited are definately not there for the paypacket because the pay is rubbish. Also the hours are long and we spend much of our time away from our families working nights and weekends while everyone else is at home or on holidays. So I think you need to lighten up and allow people who deal with death, disease and trauma on a daily basis the occasional opportunity to find some humour in there otherwise stressful work life. I can honestly say that it is never done to hurt the patients in our care, i think it is a simple case of stress relief. I hope your daughters ROP (removal of parrot) went well

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said:
September 26, 2012 at 2:08 PM

well said kragzy.ozmaid .midgeonly thankyou

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Muffy said:
September 26, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Thanks midgeonly and kragzy. Sorry this is long, but it may explain why I had to retire after 25 yrs with PTSD (from the threats and abuse I had to smile and tolerate). One goes to school for years (my profession is now up to 6 years of university study for a basic entry level degree), then often has at least one year of internship to serve. After all that, one is given the great privilege of sitting for a licensing exam! Once that is passed, you can start working- often 10 or 12 hour shifts, frequently without a lunch or dinner break (eat while you work). And don't expect to sit down! Most ancillary staff (non-MD) are run off their feet giving meds, drawing labs, making IVs and other med solutions, giving breathing treatments, giving bed baths or feeding patients...I could go on and on. We also get to hear such delightful greetings as: "Oh shit, are you gonna take MORE blood! My doc will hear about this. (He knows)" "Listen, bitch, I want a smoke and I am going out for one![pt on oxygen]" and my favorite, "What the hell are you going to F$*@ up today!" Of course, every so often, once a year (?) some one will actually call you over to say 'Thanks' and maybe give you hug. It's enough to make you cry...and it totally revives your love of medicine.

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said:
September 26, 2012 at 9:15 PM

totally agree muffy i remember one night when 4 of us nurses we bailed up by a guy with a piece of 4.2 because he was drunk ...oh sorry smelt of alchol

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September 27, 2012 at 4:52 AM

wow, I was nursing for 28years and the only derogative abbreviation I have come heard was FITH disease (F***** in the head). Nothing ever in writing, they are legal documents, how would those sort of judgmental comments stand up in court? I had no idea there was a whole encyclopedia full of them, must have lead a sheltered life as a nurse.

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said:
September 27, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Suzi2: 'hiatus hernia' - I'd better Google that! Thanks for all your comments YouPlayers - I've really enjoyed reading them :-)

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said:
September 27, 2012 at 1:52 PM

heavens valk that was the first thing we were taught was to write averything down .. as i always said if its not in writing it didnt happen ..especially for accredation.. didnt matter how trivial at least then we were covered

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said:
September 28, 2012 at 6:18 AM

I keep having thoughts of 'MASH' when I think of humour release in regards to traumatic medical work. Silly, funny, even hysterical behaviour amongst the staff but the patients were always 'revered' and their treatments sacrosanct. That is my experience in schools. Teachers can behave quite ridiculously in private but when the kids and public appears everything is professional (and professionalism does not preclude humour).

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gracie10 said:
October 01, 2012 at 9:15 PM

Another acronym. from a recent visit to A&E (don't ask, i am ok) OLE - old lady.

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said:
October 02, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Old lady is as old lady does- judgemental 'd'heads.

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kragzy said:
October 02, 2012 at 10:18 AM

There's no need for that Jafa. Argue the case by all means, but don't criticise the person.

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said:
October 02, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Is there any way that referring to gracie10 as an OLE was anything but derogatory??? Please enlighten me... PS Lovin'you Kragzy (still waiting for the photo at 'Sunny Corner').

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kragzy said:
October 02, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Hi Jafa, my apologies. I misunderstood your comment - I thought you were referring the gracie. Sorry. Please check your inbox. As for the photo - I am still looking for it among my dear old mother's vast collection of Box Brownie snaps. (And I can call her old because she is! Our grandchildren have two Grans - one on their father's side and then my mum on their mother's side. To distinguish, my mum, at 88, is affectionately referred to as Old Gran. She considers the title to be a mark of honour.)

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gracie10 said:
October 02, 2012 at 11:34 AM

They weren't actually referring to me. There were quite a number of frail elderly patients brought in by ambulance, all of whom were treated with a great deal of compassion and understanding. There was also a serious stabbing brought in who was of course given priority (that didn't stop some others from complaining about the wait time). I think the medical staff deserve a great deal of respect for the work they do in A&E, their ability to remain (or at least appear) cheerful, and the way they treat each person as a valuable individual.

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said:
October 02, 2012 at 11:35 AM

:)