Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A post modern post?

Enter Baz. (In the wild West Midlands names are shortened by the addition of a terminal “z” to the first syllable, i.e. Baz for Barry, Daz for Darren / Darryl, Shaz for Sharron etc).

Baz is resplendent in ironmongery from his studded leathers to his multiple piercings. His piece de resistance is a grommet style arrangement through the left earlobe, that stretches it out to improbable dimensions, leaving a porthole through which the light can stream and whole landscapes are made visible.

Like many here in Ambridge, Baz has been afflicted with a run of colds, coughs, and ear infections pretty much all through the winter. He’s had the odd course of antibiotics here and there with little benefit, and he’s getting more and more fed up with things.

He’s especially worried today about his eardrums. It appears they've been popping and crackling a bit more lately so he wants them looking at again (for the umpteenth time in the past two months). Sure enough they look a bit dull and a bit pink, but not especially bad, and certainly no different to the past three times we've looked at them. I tell him this and he looks skeptical. So I ask him what’s worrying him.

Well, it turns out he’s been talking to his mate down the pub, and his mate reckoned his ear drums might be perforated! 

Friday, February 14, 2014

In praise of Big Brother

I know it’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time before the internets, when Lolcats were just cats and Amazon was just a river. In this dawn of prehistory if you wanted to buy stuff you needed to actually go and get it, or use nineteenth century snail mail technology to order stuff from a big shiny book. Jack was the product of such a world. He filled the gap between store and catalogue, travelling his patch introducing people to wonders not available in either, as a commercial traveller.

Jack sold Widgets to industry, and as such his products were in demand throughout the Midlands, from sea to shining sea, as it were. He was a master of the highways and byways of a huge swathe of territory. Of course all of this was a long time ago, shortly after the demise of the mastodon I imagine. He’s certainly been retired almost as long as I've been plying my trade, and let’s face it, my spring chicken days are far behind me now.

And so it came to pass, a few weeks back, that Jack came to see me, attended by what can only be described as a deputation of concerned looking daughters. The poor chap looked a little sheepish as the spokes-daughter recounted his recent adventure with an occasional embellishment furnished by the other delegates. It appears Jack had decided to take a drive to get his tea, fridge and larder being temporarily depleted. He hopped in the car and headed for his nearest convenience store, but on arriving there realized that it was half day closing and he would have to find an alternative vendor.

This fazed him a little, but he gamely soldiered on. After all, the supermarket wasn't far off so it should be easy enough. The only thing was, it was already dark, so landmarks were hard to find, and in a fog of twilight and perhaps hypoglycaemia, suddenly Jack was transported back three decades and was on the road plying his Widgety wares. So off he went, travelling the highways and byways.

Some hours later the spokes-daughter arrived chez Jack to find him and his car gone. The neighbours recalled seeing him go out late that afternoon and even that he had told them as he went that he was off to fetch his tea. They’d thought no more about it, but now it did seem odd that he hadn't made it back five or more hours after what should have been a twenty minute round trip.

When they tried calling his mobile they could hear it ringing in the house, as he hadn't thought to take it with him, and so after a quick council of war with the rest of the family the police were called and Jack was reported M.I.A. An hour or so later WPC Watmough contacted the by now increasingly frantic family to say her colleagues in another county had Jack safe and sound by the roadside. Thanks to a combination of number plate recognition software and CCTV they had spent a happy time in traffic control tracking Jack’s progress through every major conurbation in Borsetshire and the neighbouring counties that had formed one of his sales rounds all those years back. Of course in the meantime all the factories he had been selling to had been pulled down and redeveloped into housing estates so he’d had no landmarks to remind him where he was or what he was doing.

Sad to say this little escapade has highlighted the increasing severity of Jack’s memory failure and he has had to hang up his car keys for good, but at least the very technology that has all but done away with his occupation served to track him down far quicker that we would have managed in that far off web-free age.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Signs and portents

Medicine is all about two things, symptoms (things the punters tell you about) and signs (things you can identify by inspection and examination). A subtle blending of the two is likely to lead to a diagnosis, or at least a differential diagnosis (like those lists of improbable ailments Dr House loves scrawling up on his ever present whiteboard). This gives you a choice of tests to do to sift out the wheat from the chaff and get on with the business of making people better.

Some of the cooler signs have eponyms, either of the first describer, of the first poor soul to be afflicted and described in the literature. In med-school we all learn great long lists of them, and then later, in professional life, we occasionally get to trot them out to our colleagues to show that we did manage to attend the odd lecture and absorb a little medical lore in between the bouts of carousing for which generations of doc’s-to-be are justly famous, or should that be notorious?

I’ve talked before about having my own stab at medical immortality dashed when a condition new and mysterious to Dr Nieghbour and I turned out to have a catchy though not eponymous descriptor after all. This time I reckon I’m onto a winner though, but I fear it won’t bear my name.

The thing is, it appears I was visited this week by a Dark Lord of the Sith. At least that’s what his mum contends and who am I to argue. The revelation came in the midst of  the said D L o t S’s asthma review. We ask routinely about symptoms and how they are managed, and in so doing D L’s mum let on that she could tell when his asthma was flaring and she needed to up his treatment when he started turning into Darth Vader. So there you have it, I’m the first (to my knowledge at any rate) to describe the Vader Sign, and I therefore claim it as my rightful place in the annals of the history of medicine.

Oh and whilst we’re at it I have another, though I think that might be more widely recognized—“Ice Cream Cough”. It’s surprising how many asthmatic kids cough after eating ice cream. I imagine it’s all down to inhaling colder air as they scoff their Ninety Nines.

Anyhow, returning to the Vader Sign, it puts me in mind of a picture I saw a while back in a commercial art gallery in Brum. Which gives me a chance to link to them and it for your edification. And who knows, if my new Sign catches on perhaps I’ll be able to track down a copy with the attendant royalties.