Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bohemian rhapsody

People often ask me why I decided to study medicine.  I usually lie to them and tell them that I wanted to help the helpless, bring hap to the hapless, and so on, especially if it's an interview panel or they are dressed like the Three Amigos.  But the truth is that I did it because I really like funny names.

Medicine is chock full of conditions, diseases, syndromes, body parts, microbes, and devices that have been named after people.  The number of things is so vast that all of the Bakers, Browns and Smiths got in early, meaning that the field is wide open for people with unusual and sometimes amusing names to be enshrined for all posterity.

So it helps me while away the hours thinking about how Reiter's syndrome is different to writer's block, or why Kawasaki disease has nothing to do with motorcycles, or how Wohlfart-Kugelberg-Welander disease has the word "fart" in the middle of it.  Snigger.  This is PTR's First Law Of Comedy: funny names are funny.

The problem comes though when you find out that the condition that you're laughing at the name of is serious, horrible, and generally dire for all concerned.  This is PTR's Second Law Of Comedy which contravenes the First Law: dead people aren't funny.

Fortunately, I have recently discovered PTR's Third Law Of Comedy, which contravenes the Second Law: dead people are funny if they happen to have been officers in the Prussian army during the 1866 campaign against Austria in Bohemia.

As evidence, may I present Exhibit A:
  • Verdy du Vernois
  • von Wartenleben
  • Schlotheim
  • von Tumpling
  • Finck von Finckenstein
  • Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe Ingelfingen
These names are fantastic, and in fact I feel a bit disappointed that they chose the military life rather than the medical.  Just imagine finding out that you've ruptured your Ligament of Ingelfingen, or that your doctor was about to slot home the Schlotheim speculum.  Now that would be worth the pain.


Anonymous said...

Have you ever suspected Boerhave's syndrome in someone? That's great.. he was a Dutch admiral who died of overeating.. great. I remeber this stuff, but not the tendon that attaches to the 5th metatarsal, sigh!

InkBlot said...

I love this blog - it's hilarious. Carry on!

PTR said...

Anonymous: Are you thinking of Ingelfingen's flimsy finger flinging ligament? Also, if it was me naming a syndrome of dying from overeating I would definitely call it Creosote's Syndrome.

InkBlot: Thanks for coming!