Where did I go wrong?

Real science, real jargon
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Aug 01, 2005

Vera Doubtful did not want to believe that her cat was sick.



"Hydrant just can't be sick, Doctor." She said, "I've had him for 18 years, and he hasn't been sick a day in his life. You must be wrong. Maybe you got his blood tests mixed up with someone else's. Things like that do happen, you know."

A glance at the medical record told me that there had been quite a number of medical problems over the last few years, all of which Mrs. Doubtful chose to ignore.

Like many of my clients, she seems to feel that refusal to acknowledge a problem will cause it to go away.

"I don't care what the laboratory results say," she continued, "his kidneys are fine. Why, he passes more water now than ever before."

Before I could continue my gentle, but firm, rebuttal, the office visit was interrupted by a phone call from my friend, Arnie. "Sorry to bother you in the middle of office hours, Mike," he said. "But, I have an important question for you. Do you think that we are real scientists?"

I responded that I had always considered myself to be a scientific thinker. Arnie, however, was quick to disagree. "We can't be, Mike, because we never change the names of anything. Real scientists are always changing nomenclature. In the 30 plus years that we have been in practice, the names of disease syndromes, viruses, bacteria and even drug companies have changed many times. You and I never change anything. I think it's time for us to shake up the world of veterinary jargon."

Foolishly, I asked for an example. "Funny you should ask, Mike, because I have few in mind. This morning, my receptionist put a guy in the exam room with his dog. Naturally, he didn't stay there. He wandered out into the hall blocking traffic and looking impatient waiting for his turn. That's the typical client behavior that you always called the free-roaming hall stander. From now on, I think it should be called the Julius Caesar syndrome because the guy is Roman the hall. Get it, Mike? Roman the hall?

You see, real scientists name syndromes after famous people. Let me give you another example. When I told that same guy it was time to examine the dog, he started smacking the tabletop and yelling for the dog to jump up by himself. He was what you always called a last minute dog trainer. From now on, we're going to call this Pavlov's syndrome, because he was Russian to train the dog. Get it, Mike? Russian to train the dog?"

"I get the picture, Arnie," I said. "But the idea is ridiculous. Besides, you are turning into a real Hammurabi. That's the king of Babylon. Babble on, that is. Get it, Arnie?"

"No Mike, I'm being a real Hemingway here. Ernest, that is. Let me explain more. I saw a dog last week that was hit by a car. The femur was fractured. We'll call that the Napoleon syndrome because there was a Bonaparte. Naturally, I ordered a couple of Clark Kents. That's what we're going to call X-rays now. Well, the case turned out to be a real Goodyear, because we were all tired by the end of it. By the time surgery was over, the bill was a real Galileo, meaning the sum was astronomical. When the owner saw it, he got the Hindenburg syndrome. He was really burned up. I could go on and on, Mike, but it's getting close to lunch time, and I'm getting a case of the Attilas. You know, Attila the hungry.