Disease Notice

I couldn’t understand why my husband got that upset. Diagnosis: benign. Worst case scenario, I grow my hair long.

I reported to my other half that the doctor confirmed that the newly discovered lump on the side of my face was a lipoma, a fatty deposit aka no cancer. He, however, heard lymphoma, a tumor in the lymph nodes which meant the Big C, very bad news. Say lipoma ten times fast on a cell phone with so-so reception and it does sounds a lot like lymphoma.
Which made me wonder, who decided on this name? And, didn’t anyone say, hey Bob, you know lipoma differs from lymphoma only by four letters, shouldn’t we rename it? We are going to cause heart attacks and unnecessary tears.

Discovering new diseases, frequently named with malpractice is commonplace for me. As a parent, I am forced to learn the symptoms, treatment, and prognosis of ailments, rashes, and diseases.

And, any mom or dad will tell you that you find out about the latest epidemic from opening up the red folder in your kid’s school knapsack. There is usually a long letter from the principal describing the latest infection that is going around the school. What disease could my little angel get today? Equally heart-racing is opening up an email from camp or school with the subject line NAME OF DISEASE REPORTED or my personal favorite, ANOTHER CASE OF NAME OF DISEASE CONFIRMED.

Here are the top three:

FIFTH DISEASE

Does your child look like someone slapped him/her? No need to call the principal to find out what is going on in the classroom. More likely than not your child has contracted fifth disease. When I got this letter, I thought I missed the first four letters discussing first, second, third and fourth disease. The practical joker who named this disease chose it because it is the fifth of six rash-forming sicknesses. Rashes numbering 1 through 4 and 6 use their aliases like rubella, measles, and roseola. It is like naming your six children, Abby, Betty, Carlos, David, Five, and Freddy.

COXSACKIE

This blister and temperature rising virus is also called hand foot and mouth disease because that’s where your kid will have these pustules. Don’t fret; it is not foot and mouth disease which farm animals get. Phew. You can go back to the zoo. As this virus was first confirmed in the lovely village of Coxsackie, New York, the town became its namesake. When the mayor got the news that they were chosen to be the name of the virus, did he/she complain or was there a parade?

LICE

Are you itchy? Just getting this notice will make you scratch your head, a lot. I had lice in college, and at that time, you could get kwell, a shampoo that killed lice on contact. It is no longer on the market, I think, because it causes cancer (or maybe lipomas?). I miss kwell. I would buy it on the black market if I could. Now, if you contract the non-jumping crawling buggers, you get them out using a not so potent non cancer causing shampoo and Pantene conditioner (to comb out the dead critters) in several uses. Buy a lot of candy; you’ll need it to get your kid do yet another comb out. A good sign of a lice epidemic is checking the local pharmacy. An empty shelf where the Pantene is supposed to be or a sign “Pantene on order” equals lice infestation.

I think it is safe to say that you won’t just get one letter or email alerting a case of lice; there will be several. Your kid will not have a case of louse; it will always be the plural, lice.

I didn’t need to consult the Merck Manual or WebMD for this contagion. At the very least, this one is aptly named.

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