Fun with Words and Tests

Being a writer, I'm usually interested in words. I learned a new one while I was being examined, poked, prodded, and laughed at in the hospital. The assembled doctors, residents, medical students, nurses, and nurse practitioners provided me with a vast array of highly-sophisticated tests to figure out what was wrong with me.

One of my favorites was the endoscopy, which means they took a fire hose, duct-taped a flashlight to it, and shoved it down my throat to see what the inside of my stomach looked like. They found out the inside of my stomach was just fine. There were a few other tests that eroded my dignity. Anyway, test after test was used to find out my problem, but none of the tests were able to do that. What they were able to do was tell me what wasn't wrong. And so, along the way, I picked up the term "idiopathic." That means, "Ain't got a clue, Bubba." Reassuring.

Another fun test that I had some misgivings about was the dreaded "bone marrow biopsy." This is a little adventure into discomfort that consists of a guy named Lars (who rides a chopper, has a shaved head, weighs 350 pounds of tattooed muscle, and is a white supremacist) comes up behind one with a wine corkscrew and a brittle glass straw and, after hammering the corkscrew into the back of one's pelvis, uses the straw to suck out a few grains of bone marrow. 

When I learned that this procedure was in the books for me, I told the head doctor, "I heard the bone marrow biopsy can be a scream." She laughed. So did I, just to be congenial. Lars was busy, so a petite female doctor came in and performed the procedure. There was a tad bit of discomfort of a kind I had never experienced before. It was interesting, and I had just gotten a good grip with my teeth on the bed's guardrail when she finished, put a bandaid on my butt, and left.

The benefit of the bone marrow biopsy is that it can help rule out a lot of things:  many cancers, toe fungus, beri beri, and red mange. It does not rule out insanity. But you knew that.