Archive for Symptoms – Page 2


I’m not a medical expert.image015

I’m not a medication expert.

I know next to nothing about drugs.

I have never met a pill I wanted to take.

Is that blatant enough about my ignorance so my next thoughts are taken with a grain of salt? Nay, not a mere grain. Instead imagine an overflowing wheelbarrow of Morton’s when-it-rains-it-pours overpriced sodium!

Since I’ve confirmed my lack of qualifications, let me share a few biased opinions about . . . Read More →

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Diss, Dys, and Hospice

btm0idnrkehdvvrcu5ok“Don’t ‘diss’ me, man.”

I first heard the slang diss in the 1980s, probably in a film or on TV. I’d always assumed it began in the raucous hip-hop music movement. An abbreviation of disrespect, the shorter diss made for easier rhyming and—at first—insider language for the hip-hop world. But lexicographer Jonathon Green found a reference for diss in a 1906 Australian newspaper. Could the slang term have actually emerged from the land “down under?”

Because of my hospice work, I think of different phrases. Instead of “diss,” I learn new-to-me appearances of the prefix “dys” on a regular basis.

“Don’t ‘dys’ me,” I might wish for our patients, but dys never disappears for too long as we confer about our patients’ health issues. In a meeting this week, a nurse explained—clinically and efficiently—the long list of comorbidities for a new hospice admission. The patient had, the nurse said, dystonia.

Dystonia . . . dys-what? Read More →

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Heart Lessons

According to the chart, a new patient we were discussing in the weekly team meeting had a “rapid apical pulse.”

“Hey, could someone explain to an ignorant chaplain what an ‘apical pulse’ is?”

Saved by a chaplain!! I was glad someone as befuddled as me asked about that medical term!

PulsesSeveral nurses responded, and soon at least two clueless people in the meeting learned that taking a patient’s pulse with the stethoscope’s drum (or chestpiece) placed properly over the heart provides medical professionals with the loudest and most distinctive pulse rate. Checking the wrist is known as a radial pulse and pressing fingers (gently, please) against the neck detects the carotid pulse.

The heart beats and blood flows. There is sound, faint or strong. There is movement, slow or fast. Hearing the heart’s work is one of the oldest ways for discerning health. One of my earliest memories of trips to the doctor involved a lab-coated person uncurling the stethoscope from around his (when young, it was always a man in a white coat) neck and listening to my heart. Some doctors warmed the drum before touching my skin. Some—brrrr!—did not. Whether thoughtful or thoughtless about cold metal on sensitive skin, the doctor then listened to me, to my heart, to the flow of my life. Read More →

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