im-szenasi.comHaving passed through the gates of the first decade of the “Golden Years” I have had the pleasure of interacting with the medical community with some frequency. I quickly noticed that the medical profession, as a group, have an entirely different lingo than the rest of the human race. Not only couldn’t I understand what they were saying but why they are using such linguistic obfuscations. Then I figured it out. It’s a multifaceted perspective.  

First, Doctors are an elitist group. Really! They actually have a course in authoritative behavior. Constantly in a position of making life and death decisions requires them to put forth an assertive posture to project confidence to the patient and family. Some apply this assertive behavior better than others. Whenever I sense a physician over stepping this self confidence attitude, I ask why they call what they do a “practice”.  Most other professions do their “practicing” in an apprentice program.

Second, have you ever noticed that every malady and medical procedure has an unintelligible name? We call a heart attack a heart attack. Doctors on the other hand come up with a fancy pansy name of myocardial infarction. What’s up with that?  When you bang your arm against something and a blue mark appears, you call it a bruise. Doctors, no, they have to call it a subcutaneous hematoma. How about kidney stone, plain enough; not for doctors, they have to call it Nephrolithiasis.  Kidney stone sounds bad enough, but Nephrolithiasis sounds down right lethal. Often kidney stone pass on their own, but sometimes stones in the kidneys must be removed surgically, but doctors come up with a much more fancy name, Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy. Try to say that ten times, fast. Drugs, don’t get me started on names they invent for drugs that they prescribe.

OK, I can cut them some slack on the name of the anatomy and medical terms. After all, they did go to school for eight plus years to get a piece of paper that allows them to open an office to “practice” medicine. But what really irks is the vocabulary they have invented for timelines. The last time I had need to visit the emergency department is a case in point. The triage nurse, that’s the nurse that determines  how long you have to wait to see a doctor that’s practicing for real. They call them interns. The triage nurse asks you what is your problem. If you’re not bleeding, gasping for air or grabbing your chest in pain, she asks you to sit in the waiting room with an encouraging phrase, “ ..the doctor will be with you momentarily.

So, I sit down and as I am sitting there, feeling not so great, I contemplate what the triage nurse just said. The doctor will see you momentarily. How long is a moment. I know hour, minute, and second but, I have no concept of how long a moment is. So in an effort to kill a “moment” of time I whip out my phone and “google” “what is a moment?” The dictionary defines it as “a very short period of time” Terrific, an imprecise definition for an imprecise word. Well let me assure you I have never been able to, in real life, correlate moment with very short period of time in any medical setting.


Many “moments” later I am escorted into a small room by a nurse nurse and she announces that the doctor will be in in a “jiffy”! “Jiffy” sounded quick just like momentarily did. With that experience under my belt I dug out my phone again and googled “jiffy”. In almost an instant, google came back with an answer. ‘Jiffy is used as an actual unit of time’. Alright now we’re getting somewhere. It went on to say,

The word ‘jiffy’ has been around since at least the late 18th century. What it derived from is unknown, but it first popped up as a “thieves slang for ‘lightning’”. Fast forward about a century and a half later and famed Physical Chemist Gilbert Newton Lewis, who incidentally came up with the word ‘photon’, suggested a ‘jiffy’ should be officially defined as the time it takes for light to travel one centimeter in a vacuum (about 33.3564 picoseconds).  Since then, others in physics and chemistry have suggested alternative distances to measure a jiffy over, rather than light traveling for a centimeter, but the original value is still most typically used in physics and chemistry.  Someone should get Jiffy Lube for false advertising!

Quite frankly, I don’t care what measure they choose, no doctor has ever made an appearance in a “Jiffy”.

Finally, the doctor appears in “moocho jiffies” and examines me and recommends, correction, suggests that I get a dose of antibiotics. In the absence of any alternative suggestions I agree. So he says, the nurse will be in “momentarily” to set an IV. For those who do not speak “doctor” an IV is an acronym for an Intra Venus shunt. In English, they are going to stick a spigot into an artery on the top of my hand so they can administer the antibiotic directly into the blood.  About ten minutes later, the nurse pops her head in and pronounces, “ I’ll be with you shortly!” Isn’t that synonymous with momentarily? It’s been many “shortlys” already.

Finally, she comes in and prepares my hand by first wrapping a rubber tube very tightly around my upper arm to the point where it was beginning to hurt. She prepares the shunt and the surgical tape, Then she sterilizes my arm with rubbing alcohol, all the while my arm is ready to fall off from the ligature. As I don’t care for the sight of blood, I turn away from the proceedings. She then asks, “are you ready?” “I guess” I replied wanting the pain from the ligature to go away. So she then says, “OK, you are going to feel a slight discomfort!” I define slight discomfort is the feeling I get when my shorts ride up beyond intended. As she finished saying that, an incredible shot of pain emanated form my hand. I was right, the pain from the ligature disappeared. The pain in the hand subsided until she began to press on the tape to hold the shunt in place. Another lesser “slight discomfort” followed the first episode of “slight discomfort”.

She then set up an IV drip on stand and asked if I was comfortable. I said “I am a little cold”.  “OK, I’ll get a blanket. I’ll be back in a moment”. As she dashed out!, and the beat goes on.~