Jewish World Review June 6, 2002 / 25 Sivan, 5762

Richard Lederer

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Consumer Reports

Jest for the health of it | In Austin, Texas, Emergency Medical Technician answered a call at the home of an elderly woman whose sister had collapsed. As they were placing her in the ambulance, the lady wailed, "Oh, lawdy, lawdy. I know what's the matter with her. She done got the same thing what killed her brother. It's a heretical disease. It's the Smiling Mighty Jesus!"

When the technician got the sister to the county hospital, she looked up the brother's medical records to find that he had died of -- spinal meningitis.

It is ironic that the humor in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors' offices -- some of the scariest places -- can be so loopy. The giddy ghost of Mrs. Malaprop haunts medical halls and application forms, where we discover all manner of exotic conditions, such as swollen asteroids, an erection nervosa, migrating headaches and shudders (a wiggy misnomer for shingles!).

All the malappropriate terms in this installment are authentic, miscreated by anxious patients or hassled doctors and nurses.

A man went to see his eye doctor, who told him he had a case of myopera and would have to wear contract lenses. That's a lot better than his friend, who had had a cadillac removed. Still, when he worked at his computer, he would have to watch out for harbor tunnel syndrome. He worried that his authoritis of the joints might be a signal of Old Timer's disease and fretted that a genital heart defect was causing trouble with his duodemon.

Another man was in the hospital passing gull stones from his bladder while the doctor was removing a cracked dish from his spine. After the operation, his glands were completely prostrated. A hyannis hernia, hanging hammeroids, inflammation of the strocum and a blockage of his large intesticle could have rendered him impudent. It was enough to give a body heart populations, high pretension, a peppery ulcer and post mortem depression -- even a cerebral hemorrhoid. But at least that's better than a case of sea roses of the liver, cereal palsy or sick as hell anemia. Any of these could cause one to slip into a comma.

A woman rushed into the lobby of a hospital and shouted, "I use an IOU and my husband has had a bisectomy, but I still think I'm fragrant!" Ultimately, she became three centimeters diluted and, narrowly avoiding a mess carriage, went into contraptions. Her baby was born with its biblical cord wrapped around its arm, and she asked if she could have it circumscribed before leaving the hospital.

Another woman experienced itching of the virginia during administration, which led to pulps all up her virginal area and they had to void their reproductions. This was followed by a tubular litigation and, ultimately, mental pause. Mental pause can cause one to become a panic depressive and act like a cyclopath.

She didn't worry about her very close veins, but she thought that a mammy-o-gram and Pabst smear might show if she had swollen nymph glands and fireballs of the eucharist. That's "fibroids of the uterus," and it's something you can't cure with simple acnepuncture, Heineken Maneuver or a bare minimum (barium) enema. Apparently, evasive surgery would be required. Afterwards, she would recuperate in expensive care.

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JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. He is the host of "A Way With Words," on KPBS, San Diego Public Radio, and a regular guest on weekend "All Things Considered." He was awarded the Golden Gavel for 2002 by Toastmasters International. Comment by clicking here.


05/30/02: It is truly astonishing what havoc students can wreak on the chronicles of the human race
05/16/02: A bilingual pun is twice the fun!
05/09/02: What's in a president's name?
05/03/02: Slang as it is slung
04/25/02: Abstemious words
04/19/02: This Riddle Isn't Letter-Perfect

© 2002, Richard Lederer