8/365 – Words for common diseases

Ah, the good life in Mequon, Wisconsin, circa 1964

Ah, the good life in Mequon, Wisconsin, circa 1964

Left my camera behind at my apartment this a.m., and only now (10:00 p.m.) am I back. Took some good portraits of Dearest at her request, using her son’s camera, so I may add one of those later. For now, the ancient B&W shot of me relaxing in the sun back in the 1960s is fine. I still feel like that most of the time.

Okay, I’ll be honest: I feel like shit. I’ve been coughing for over a week, not a bad or deep cough, just an annoying one that’s constantly there, dry and unproductive. It wears me out and makes it difficult to complete a sentence. Which brings me to a favorite gripe – the feeble and misleading names we use for common illnesses.

Take “cough” for example. I am coughing, yes, but why do I say, “I have a cough”? Or even worse, “I have a cold.” What does cold have to do with anything? I thought scientists have proved that people who sit in a draft with their feet in ice water don’t come down with “colds” any more frequently than a control group with their feet in chicken soup – okay, I’m making up the chicken soup part, but the disease we call a cold is caused my one of the hundreds of rhinoviruses; “rhino” being Greek for “nose,” hence the animal with a horn protruding from its, well, nose, is called a “rhino,” or “nose.” Wouldn’t it be better to say, “I have a rhino,” when we’re sniffling and sneezing and coughing?

And don’t get me started on “stomach flu.” Influenza is a respiratory disease, which means it gets in your lungs. The “flu” has nothing whatsoever to do with the stomach. What you’ve got is gastroenteritis, usually accompanied by “the runs,” need I say more? The trots? Anyway, “I’ve got a stomach bug” would be preferable to “flu,” but I really like the lilt of “gastroenteritis.” If you can come up with a short form other that “gastro,” let me know. (Sounds too much like “Castro,” who is also a pain the butt.)

Now that I’ve made you all sick, have a nice *achoo* day.

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