medical terminology

As a crossword devotee I am familiar with the “medical suffix” clue (i.e., -itis [as in “arthritis”], -osis [as in halitosis] etc.) See Mr. Wikepedia for more. And I am impressed by large, complicated, hard-to-pronounce illnesses. We all die sometime. Would your rather go due to a heart attack or due to a bad case of cystoureteropyelonephritis? No contest. The obit, the wake, the funeral luncheon — all more interesting if the latter.

So today’s ramble concerns the other terms medical sorts use. The ones that make me scratch my head. Here’s a few I’ve come across . . .

1. event – The last few years of my mother’s life were miserable. She was blind, nearly deaf, couldn’t walk, didn’t know us, was confused, incontinent. You get the picture. A few days before her death, her doctor phoned and announced that my mother had suffered “an event.” Like a circus? Broadway show? I know he didn’t know exactly what happened but . . .

2. void – Anyone who has ever been in the hospital knows how anxious everyone is that you void. They even measure how much voiding you voided. Don’t think of voiding then flushing your void into the void without letting them know.

3. insult – One of my favorites. Any organ, bodily system can feel insulted. Insults may stem from another organ or system e.g., your brain feels insulted from a lack of oxygen OR can suffer an insult through some outside force e.g., my head suffered an insult when I conked it on the sidewalk. I always  imagine the affected part sulking like a child. “Fine. You do that, then I do this.” Tit for tat.

4. eliminate – This is a cousin of void. The question that always causes me pause is, “When did you last eliminate?” Eliminate what? Oh, oh, yes.  Sometimes one’s elimination is referenced as if the individual is not present. Nurse looks directly at doctor and states, “She hasn’t eliminated since last Tuesday.”

I will stay alert for other disappointing medical references and keep you posted. Please do the same.



smart phone? I think not.

On Tuesday, I nearly caused my smart phone to have a stroke. You see I was on my way to meet a client. I pawed in my purse and retrieved my “smart” phone and typed in my destination. The woman inside the phone guided my way to the client’s office.

I arrived. We met. I left and decided to take a new route home. Got lost. Pawed in my purse. Retrieved her. Opened the map app and figured out where I was. Started driving. Now you may think the worst is over. Au contraire. Next I dropped her smartness and she slid waaaaay under the seat. As I approached the next intersection, she called out, “Turn right.”

Ha! You not-so-smart phone. I would only turn right if I were going TO the client. NOW I am driving HOME. I proceeded straight through the intersection. As I approached the next intersection, she wailed, “TURN RIGHT.” I proceeded. “TURN RIGHT! TURN RIGHT!”

I flailed under the seat to calm her to no avail. “TURN RIGHT!” I continued on my way, now on familiar ground. “TURN RIGHT. TURN RIGHT.” I grow fearful that she may

  1. quit
  2. have a stroke
  3. become angry
  4. get laryngitis
  5. suffer a loss of self-esteem from being ignored

After 20 minutes of her insistence that I “turn right,” I pull into the garage, find her and put her out of her misery.

those tricky office appliances

I am a real pencil devotee. Forget the mechanical pencil. The lead in those snaps off, they are too skinny, and the erasers fall out. Furthermore I am a fan of the “Ticonderoga #2” pencil. Blow past “Rose Art.” If you haven’t hung around the school supply area of Target you may not understand the reference. Essentially Ticonderogas are the pencils choosy pencil users choose.

Once I made this life-altering observation about my preferred writing utensil, I decided to go whole hog and get myself an electric pencil sharpener. No more of those lousy less-than-$1 sharpeners from grade school days. No, I went with the Cadillac and never regretted it. When it broke, I decided to treat myself to another, but then remember pausing to consider the battery-operated style.

Fast forward . . . months go by and I am happily replete with sharp Ticonderogas. But one day, the sharpener failed. I stuck in the Ticonderoga and the silence was deafening. I checked to see if the tray of shavings had backed up into the motor. No. Hmm. I then did what I do when most things break. Nothing. I let them sit as I go through a phase where I hope the item will just start working again. After awhile I drift into Phase 2 which is the I-really-should-get-that-fixed phase.

I have been in Phase 2 for several months as my pencils grow increasingly dull. From time to time I am at the store and think that I wish I knew what size battery to buy for the sharpener. Recently I went so far as to call home to ask my husband but he wasn’t there.

Well today was the day. I needed a pencil and without further delay, leapt into Phase 3. Action. I took the sharpener and went looking in the drawer designated for batteries, tacks, string, instruction manuals, miscellaneous buttons and loose change. I located a bevy of batteries and then examined the sharpener to find the battery compartment. I couldn’t find it! After several seconds, I noted the doohickey on the back to plug in a power cord. AHH!!

The memory came flooding back. Several weeks ago I discovered a cord plugged into the power strip under my desk and for the life of me, I had no idea what it was for. Neither did my husband. He advised me to throw it out. Because I am clever, I did not. So, after months of not having a sharpener I hightailed it to the cabinet designated for things we don’t know how or where to use and there was the mysterious cord.

Wouldn’t you know. I plugged one end into the sharpener, the other into the outlet and now VOILA my pencils are sharp. Too bad I am not …



We all need a mission in life, and I have chosen one. You may think it is about law or justice, and it is, after a fashion. I have made justice my mantra as related to toilet paper and soap in the womens’ restroom. I have no shortage of work. It is a rare event to find a lady’s restroom with toilet paper AND soap AND paper towel.

My daughter observed me march from stall to cash register to inform the clerk that the ladys’ room was out of t.p. She was amused — the way we are amused when the elderly do something — but I told her she would thank me. Because of my crusade, the future looks good.

Most of my work is done at gas stations along the interstate. I visit the restroom, then without fail, note a deficiency, so hustle off to the front counter and let them know. Most of the time, they stare at me like, “What can I do about it?” Or worse, “Why would I care?” Because I then must continue the journey, I don’t know if the clerk wipes that stupid look of his/her face hustles in and makes amends, but I presume they do. Which makes me a hero. (heroine)



We had a overweight, poorly trained springer spaniel when I was growing up. Ironically, she was named “Lady” although there was nothing lady-like about her. She was nice enough, but she lived in a kennel my Dad had built against the back wall of our brick house. The condition of the kennel is for another post. Suffice to say if you saw it, you would not be surprised to hear that my Dad grew up on a farm. The kennel, affixed to a 1958 split-level in suburban Chicago, looked like some kind of pig sty apropos to southern Indiana. But, as I said, that is for a later day.

Today’s topic is the dog show in which I entered Lady. I really, really wanted Lady to be Lassie, but other than the first two letters of their respective names, there were no similarities. None at all.

And I wasn’t dumb. Even at age 10, I was astute enough to realize that Lady had no chance in the obedience contest, nor in the looks contest (reference “untrained” and “overweight” in the first paragraph). The dog show, however, had a costume competition. Perfect. Lady was compliant enough so if I fashioned a costume, I knew she’d go along. The question remained . . . what would an award-winning costume look like?

Now I must digress to tell you that no one in my family, save perhaps one sister who did not live at home, had any sewing ability whatsoever. In fact, one had a hard time finding scissors in our house and when found, they were always dull to the point of uselessness.

I let the whole costume issue go to ’til the last minute, when I knew desperation would bring a good idea, which it did.

On the morning of the dog show I removed my 16 year-old sister’s blue and white, two-piece bathing suit from our room while she slept. Then, with my Dad’s assistance, I worked Lady into the suit. The bottoms were particularly troublesome, but we managed. My Dad then dropped us at the dog show.

I don’t remember him sticking around for the show. Apparently he had some pride. Sadly we only received a “participant” ribbon, but it was the only ribbon I’d ever gotten for anything so I was pleased. That is until I got home and faced my sister.


I should be doing the exercises the physical therapist assigned me to rehab my shoulder after slipping on the ice. I should be walking the dog so he gets some exercise. I should be cleaning out my email inbox, getting it sorted. I should try to figure out the tangle of blogs I have started and stopped and then figure out how to give this one an email feed. I should be sending out networking inquiries.

But I really want to have a glass of pinot grigio, perhaps a few, and sit listening to music and write and move from “shoulds” to “wishes.”

I wish someone would pay me to do what I want to do. Instead I spent today doing contract work that is “beneath my station” – more simply put – I could have done it years ago. Sure the work is easier given my editing efforts over the years and the other work could only be done by someone with legal training, but a whole slew of it could be done by a trained monkey.

In an effort to ditch the relentless list of shoulds that I allow to guide my life, I have decided to take risks. Not like unprotected sex with a street person or anything, I mean in the sense of what I do every day. Quit getting up and going in to a workplace that depresses me or bores me. Find what I love and do it. The problem is that I am not sure I know what I love to do.

Years ago, as an icebreaker in a parenting group, we were asked to tell the group what “makes your heart sing.” The request sent me into an immediate panic because I wasn’t sure how to answer and God knows the worst thing ever would be to give an inaccurate answer to a bunch of people who likely could have cared less. But I digress… I am trapped into thinking about tasks I like to do and am beginning to realize that what I love to do must encompass more.

Yeah, I like to write, but I love to write what I want more than 800 words about car insurance. And I like to edit but to do it all day every day with no interaction with others would be deadening.

I like to think. Seriously. I like to use my brain to strategize, categorize, find solutions, design processes.

All this brings me to another realization I made on vacation. We just returned from a long weekend in Florida. I was very happy sitting in the shade and reading, paddling around the pool with my bum shoulder, sleeping, eating. A nature preserve was located nearby and I felt that I SHOULD want to go there. I read about it online. The first “excellent” reviewer gushed about touring the preserve and spotting a spoonbill. My eyes stopped dead. I have absolutely no interest in spoonbills or any other bird for that matter. I know some people like to bird watch. My sister-in-law likes to go on nature hikes. Some admire plants. I wish I did but I don’t. I’m all for a walk in a nice surrounding but I am never looking for nature. Because I don’t care and I am ashamed to admit my disinterest.

There are whole subject areas that I care nothing about. Pro sports. Birds. Car types. I could fill up the whole paragraph, maybe two. So why am I not content to do something boring or tedious as long as I get paid?

Sometimes I think I will make an ideal nursing home resident. I like to nap and read and I love throws and have a nice collection for various needs — one for the car, one when I am really cold, one to ward off a chill… Rocking chairs are comfortable and beds that go up and down intrigue me, not to mention the call button when I have an unmet need.

Alas I am not going to a nursing home or bird watching. No one is thinking, “This is a thorny problem. We need to get [me] on the line.” But then few of us are in that position. Most like me, just wake up every day and put one foot in front of the other. And I must learn to do this with more grace.




DMV – part II

I’ve posted a lot today but know you are anxious to hear how my trip to the DMV went. It was a highly successful venture. For $12.75 I can now drive legally.

The only hitch was when I was filling out the application and came to “weight.” As my pen descended into the square, I seriously considered lying. Not by a lot, but shaving 4 or so pounds off because I was thinking that the last time I got my license I weighed less. This moral tussle caused me pause. What would I lie? To save myself from the disapproval of the woman at the DMV counter? As if she was going to look at my old license on file, compare it to the new application and think less of me?

Before I started flossing regularly, I regularly lied. After awhile I merely shaded the truth. One time she asked how often I flossed, and I replied, “Not as often as I’d like.” Really. I said that. Not, “Not as often as I should” or “Not as often as you think I should.” So not only was I trying to pull the wool over on the flossing issue but was trying to make myself out to be well-intentioned.

The interesting thing about this phenomena is that I don’t lie about anything else. For whatever reason, dental hygienists and DMV personnel seem to bring it out in me.


I need to go to the DMV to get a replacement drivers license. The last meeting I had with my drivers license was last week when I removed it from my wallet along with my cash card so I wouldn’t be troubled dragging my purse around. Great idea. Instead I troubled myself by searching the house, all the stores I visited and their respective parking lots for my lost drivers license and cash card. Where the hell did I put it? Don’t know.

I know if I go to the DMV, I will find the old one. On the other hand, the DMV will surely provide some material from which to write. There’s that.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you find things, not where you least expect, but where you should expect to find them? Really, I am amazed when I am amazed to find my shoes in the closet.

Whenever I misplace things I think about the grandmother of a childhood friend. “Gran” was getting on in years, but lived with her daughter and grandchildren. Her exploits were constant fodder for the high school lunch table. One of Gran’s famous moves was when she insisted on cleaning up after dinner. The next day they found the leftover pot roast in a cabinet. Gran was also given to platitudes. She overheard my friend complaining about her mother and Gran reminded her, “Your mother is going to heaven in a basket.”  It’s had a Moses-in-the-bullrushes ring to it. The alternative, of course, was a fast train to hell. Wonder where I will end up and how I will travel.


perils of the positive

I am not an optimist but don’t like to think of myself as a pessimist either because pessimist = bad. So over the course of time, I’ve settled on “realist.”

You may be thinking, “Why not be an optimist?” Well, for starters, I’m not. It would be like saying, “Why not be a man?”

Also optimists annoy me and I don’t want to annoy myself anymore than I do right now. The casual optimist is fine. The friend who cheers me up, for example, is more than welcome in my life. It is the others….

Several years ago I worked with someone who managed to insert “super-awesome” into emails, conversations with ease. I developed a tic just hearing it. Sometimes I just don’t want to make lemonade, I want to bitch and gripe.

formatting and sugar cookies

What does decorating sugar cookies and formatting Word docs have in common? A little goes a long way.

I loved decorating Christmas cookies when I was a child. Sprinkles, chocolate chips, silver balls, dried fruit — the more the merrier. I didn’t like to eat them, but I had a fine time making them. Apparently no one else in the family liked eating them either. I recently asked my older sister to send me her recipe for sugar cookies. Older siblings have a penchant for comment and this occasion was no exception:

“Please do not allow yourself to do any decorating. This is NOT an opportunity to express yourself. I still gag at the thought of all the crap you layered on — dried fruits, sprinkles, candy pearls, cinnamon toppers, more frosting… Remember: Less is more in the world of sugar cookies.”

But like many of the words of wisdom imparted by my siblings, I ignored the advice when I set out to format a company newsletter. I didn’t stop with bold and italics. I mixed typefaces and fonts. Of course, color — of text, of “fill”, or lines. Wow! I discovered I could make text curve up and down, make letters shadowed. And bullets — who knew I didn’t have to settle for the round dot? Yes indeed I found other bullet types and used a different one in each section of my newsletter. I turned text sideways and tilted images. When I was done, reading my newsletter was akin to a ride on rough seas. My spouse suggested my efforts might be more suited to a ransom note.

So I toned it down. Damn near killed me. Then I went to bad and DeAnn (one of my inner voices which will be the subject of another post) reminded me until I fell asleep that I was no graphic designer. Once she got tired of that, she told me I was no writer and had no business doing anything I’ve done of late.