Word Watch: Katie Couric effect

Colonscopia esame colon apparato digerenteWhen TV host Katie Couric had a live, on-air colonoscopy on the Today Show in 2000, and campaigned for colon cancer screening after the death of her husband two years before that, there was a pronounced increase in colonoscopies among Americans termed the “Katie Couric effect.”
The term was first used in 2002, but was resurrected in June in the Washington Post and last year in the New York Times.

Now, Canadian Word Spy Paul McFedries, who tracks new words and phrases as they enter the language, has added “Kate Couric effect” (also simply “Couric effect”) on his Word Spy website.~TM




Not just another cancer diary

Credit: Wrangler

Credit: Wrangler

The English writer Jenny Diski, 67, has been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and has begun a cancer diary, to be serialized in the London Review of Books. The first installment, which appeared in the 11 September issue, was described in The Guardian as a “bravura essay” displaying “angry eloquence.”

This will not be just another cancer diary. Continue reading →

Clinic leaves news of cancer diagnosis on voice mail

Credit: Stepan Crani

Credit: Stepan Crani

How, in 2014, does this happen? What thinking, feeling person believes this is an acceptable way to convey this kind of news?

A surgeon’s office calls a patient* who had cancer surgery three weeks before. The patient doesn’t answer so the office person leaves a message to confirm the date, a week hence, of the follow-up appointment to discuss the pathology.


Then, three hours later, the associated cancer clinic (a major Canadian centre) calls the same patient, who is still not home, and leaves the following message (wording approximate): Your appointment with the surgeon has been cancelled. Instead, see <substitute doctor> a week later. In the meantime, call the radiation oncology department. Continue reading →

What pain relief looks like

design3 Dr. Roger Freeman (DDS) of Infectious Awareables (IA), the fashionable health education company (or the  health-educating fashion company), has chosen the winning design for the challenge he issued earlier this year to illustrate pain relief.

The design, at left, is called “Whew!” and was created by Darren Nelson of Bountiful, Utah.

The design will appear on IA silk scarves, which are available for  $39.95 (U.S.) each. (The company contributes a portion of proceeds to research, education or support associated with non-profit public health agencies and organizations.)

“This creative design – symbolizing the chaos of pain transitioning to calmer waters, white clouds and sunshine of butterflies – is our interpretation” of the design, Dr. Freeman wrote in his latest newsletter. Continue reading →

Word Watch: ‘day surgery’ has arrived!

Credit: Gennadiy Poznyakov

Credit: Gennadiy Poznyakov

“Day surgery” has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The OED’s September update of what’s new in the Good Book included a “sub-entry” for “day surgery,” defined as “minor surgery that does not require the patient to stay in hospital overnight.”

More than 600 new words, phrases and “senses” were added to the OED since the last update in June, the publisher said.

The entry for “day surgery” noted its first use as being in 1968 in the British Medical Journal (now known as just BMJ).~TM

Thomas Edison was a dim bulb in denying the need for sleep

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Edison developed the incandescent light bulb, allowing us to live and, more important, to work in what would otherwise be “the dark.” So it perhaps comes as no surprise that Edison was not just a proponent of wakefulness but an opponent of sleep.

His role in promoting a sleepless work ethic and its connection to masculinity is outlined in Dangerously Sleepy: Overworked Americans and the Cult of Manly Wakefulness, a book by Pennsylvania State University health and labor historian Dr. Alan Derickson (PhD). The book was published in November 2013 and cited in a recent article in The Atlantic. Continue reading →

Sleep deprivation ‘unrecognized among the homeless’

Credit: Isabelle Esselin

Credit: Isabelle Esselin

It may seem the least of their worries, but not being able to get a decent night’s sleep is “without a doubt … the biggest issue for homeless people.”

That’s according to Kevin Barbieux, who calls himself a “chronically homeless” man who blogs as The Homeless Guy. Continue reading →

Media criticism shorthand

There are proofreading symbols. Movie critics have one-to-five-stars and thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating systems. Now, Toronto illustrator, writer and queen of Venn diagrams Sarah Lazarovic has come up with shorthand for media criticism. It’s suitable for use with all subject matter, but has a couple of medical-specific symbols:

media criticism symbols

Another medically-themed selfie…

death selfie… that is making the rounds on Facebook. It’s actually from René of Châlon’s commemorative cenotaph in the church of St. Etienne in Bar-le-Duc. (And he’s actually holding his heart in his hand.)~TM



Who’s federal health minister this week?


Joe Oliver, Finance Minister (pinch-hits for Health Minister)

Joe Oliver! Whose website says he’s actually Finance Minister!

Oliver’s office (or the Finance department, anyway) sent a “media advisory/photo opportunity” news release today, alerting reporters having trouble finding actual news, that on Friday, Oliver is going to “participate in a demonstration of digital health tools in use at Sunnybrook. He will then present Sunnybrook with a national award recognizing its leadership in innovation in digital health.”


“The Minister will be joined by John Carmichael, MP, Don Valley West, Barry McLellan, President and CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Michael Green, President and CEO, Canada Health Infoway” for a grip-and-grin and will be available for questions afterward. (Carmichael will be there because Sunnybrook is actually in his riding.) Continue reading →

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