A Degree Further

My eldest daughter has decided to study Medicine. Not in itself perhaps remarkable, other than that she already has degree in English, of which I’m very proud.

Having an English degree is an ideal start for Medicine, adding to her skill set in treating many conditions, for example, depression. ‘You’re feeling fed up? Let me recite you a little Wordsworth. I wandered lonely as a cloud….’ ‘You’re uncertain about your sexuality? Despite being a man, you find yourself dressing as a woman? Shakespeare knew a lot about this. I refer you to Midsummer Night’s Dream in particular. Oh, sorry, you mean you’re a woman and want to dress like a man; in that case, Twelfth Night is for you.’

In terms of giving advice on lifestyle changes it could be no end useful. Those who need more exercise would be sent to walk to the library twice a day. Those needing more relaxation would be packed off to read Byron; those bored, in need of excitement, Dracula; those with incipient schizophrenia, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Whoever needed better upper body strength would be prescribed bicep repetitions clutching the Oxford English Dictionary; poor deportment would get fixed by walking with a copy of Miss Read on the head; while those who also had a delicate scalp prone to sunburn, could wear their copy opened and face down. Dieters would   be encouraged to eat ancient copies of distasteful books; a delicious high-fibre, low-calorie snack while ridding the planet of a nuisance.

She has spent three years studying how words are put together, prefixes, suffixes and bits in the middle-ixes. Medicine is exactly the same system: tacking the where; gast: stomach; ped: foot; derm: skin etc on to the what is it? itis: inflammation; -ectomy: removal of; -ology: the study of; -oscopy: to look inside. Hence gastritis, Dermatology. A textbook of Medical terminology should really be called Where’s What?

Some terms don’t quite work like that, in that Haemophilia does not mean love of blood, otherwise Dracula would be a haemophiliac. Neither does hysterectomy mean removal of the hysterical bit.

 This naming system means that you can make your own up, for example dentitis: inflammation of the teeth, pedoscopy to look inside the foot. With this talent at her fingertips she’d be able to invent some brilliant diagnoses.

‘Mr X has ended up in this unfit state by eating too much of a certain type of food. What do you feels the problem is?’

 ‘Doughnutophilia exacerbated by Exercisephobia.’

‘Completely brilliant. I hereby hand you a first-class honours degree in medicine. Also, we need your help in modernising Medical language.’

‘Sure. We’ll start with Derm@itis, 4skin, pl8lets and 50 Shades of Grey’s Anatomy.’

I have no doubt about her abilities. We have here a future Chocolatologist. The only thing that worries me is the pain of the Cashfromparentsectomy.

Alison Gardiner



About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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