obsessive rumination about language
I love how you investigate the language... and I have shared this with the four doctors in my family (including a cardiologist). no, never say the word "mass" no do not. deep bow for your fierce advocacy for beautiful Sophie.
“Also, lay folks should never use the words at least before they say anything else.” Yes. Very yes.
I’m very sorry that this happened to you. You already know our story so you know I agree with you that when doctors are scared, their fear and discomfort can really frighten us laypeople. Words are powerful. I’m glad what they saw on the scan wasn’t an issue, but the communication about it certainly was. The stress and adrenaline caused by those experiences is not easily dispersed. May each day bring more ease and peace of heart ❤️
¨I looked the word up and read the second definition: something observed in a scientific investigation or experiment that is not naturally present but occurs as a result of the preparative or investigative procedure. What the hell?¨
A phantom, a figment, a phantasm, a shadow, a mirage, a trick of the light (radiation), a not-real thing. They should say things like ´we´re not sure it´s even there´ before they do the procedure. Because some times they aren´t sure it´s actually there, which is why they have to go look.
´trump´s election was an artifact of the electoral college´
Another almost unbelievable tale of lack of respect and compassion.
I have been working as a language editor in medical science for 20+ years and I can tell you this:
The terminology of medical science is the result of a poor knowledge of language. All these medical experts, junior and senior doctors etc., they don't know about the power of words, about their magic, about literature, great or mediocre, about writing as a craft, a skill, a talent. These people zoomed in on science early on in school and pushed ahead with a career path in mind, maybe also dreams of science breakthrough, saving the world, whatever. They never liked or had time for reading, probably had poor grades in English, never really got the hang of writing a decent essay or even wanting to know what makes a decent essay and so on. Most of them never read fiction or poetry unless they had to for their grades. They rely heavily on a thesaurus when they have to write up some research finding or their doctoral thesis, unless they can cut and paste from others. And they share their insider terminology at conference like peacocks showing off their plumage. I could go on.
The German term for mass in the medical context is Raumforderung, literally "something that demands/claims/requires space" and it's a constructed word, not used elsewhere. Some people tell me that it's an elegant expression. I don't agree. It's a preposterous, stifled, made up word for something that requires much more that a single complicated term that is basically meant to baffle the inexperienced and make medical experts looks mysteriously grand when in reality, they are just as stunned and initially helpless as you and me.
I have to say that the horror and fear and discomfort and worry that you experienced when Sophie was in the hospital have served to hone your writing to razor sharpness.
Great, right? I'm sure knowing that will mitigate the nightmare you and Sophie survived.
I read Sabine's comment with interest. I had never thought of it like that but it makes sense that people attracted to the practice of medicine would have the sorts of minds that go directly to the science of it all and use the language they've learned in their education. It is so rare and so amazing to find a doctor with great "bedside manner" as they say and all that really means is that they are gentle and careful with the words they use, they will actually look you in the eye as they use those words. I wish there were more of them.
what knock-out writing.
& in the face of incalculable ordeals.
Well fuck. I'm so glad it was an artifcat and not a mass, but you would think that a good radiologist could tell the difference.
It fascinates me how language strikes people so differently. I find the words "mass" and "artifact" to be perfectly appropriate, accurate medical terms terms to use under the circumstances. That there was a request for Sophie's "cooperation" with an MRI, however, just boils my blood. It follows that "non-compliant" as a descriptor for patients (or parents/caregivers) similarly sets me off. That a doctor isn't an English major doesn't bother me as much as when they mischaracterize ability in one person and intelligent questioning in the other. That Sophie was asked to "cooperate" points to a doctor who is not paying attention at all to the person they are treating.
I can’t imagine the terror added to an already deeply stressful situation. I’m glad Sophie’s heart is ok.
As a medical person, I find myself using words like significant or insignificant backwards. No one has an insignificant baby, do they? Benign, there's another word. As in-mild? Or harmless? Or peaceful? Not full of rage and fear maybe. Medical language is a conscious shield for us providers to hide behind. WE know what we're talking about. And why can't we speak it plain so everyone in the room has an understanding of what we are actually talking about? I've been asked by clients what certain words mean and I'm pulled up short. I've fallen into the trap of lingo, magic lingo that excludes the patient. But why? Do we want to sound smarter, more authoritative? Glad you had a kind doc who suggested you sit down. Hopefully compassion won't be bled out of her...
When you mentioned the image of her heart and possible dire consequences, I immediately jumped to "artefact." I had a similar scan with a dire looking mass in my BRAIN and it turned out to be nothing but a glitch on the MRI. So, imaging is not perfect and must always be followed up on. I might have undergone surgery to remove said mass and then I REALLY would have been pissed when nothing was found. My hat's off to you for navigating the medical system, which is very trying most of the time. Love to you and dear Sophie.
An artifact. Hmmmm. I've heard that term used in photography, like when the lens leaves a flare on the image, but I never thought of it in a medical sense. (I suppose it's really the same sense.) I hope doctors are reading and learning from your posts. Seriously, you should do training workshops on bedside manner and patient relations!
My daughter recently had a colonoscopy that revealed a "mass" that had to come out, and they wouldn't know if it was cancerous until they got it out. In my mind, that "mass" was the size of an asteroid, and of course I freaked out. In fact, the mass was a tiny little thing that required the removal of a big section of colon to make sure they "got it all." Yes, it contained cancer, but now it's all gone, no treatment necessary, we all breathe easier. How much better if the doc had said to her, "There is a teeny tiny little bitty thing in there, and we don't know what it is, but it's better if it comes out." As you so eloquently show us, the world of the hospital is an alien place where the inhabitants speak a different language, and please god let us get out alive. Thank you for your love of language and your courage in the true sense of the meaning: heart. You have heart. Sending love to you and Sophie.
Oh dear god. I didn't know our bodies carried artifacts and that they are just fine to exist there inside us but i am so glad Sophie's heart is just artistic and interesting instead of bearing a mass of some sort. You have all been through it. I send big enveloping hugs.