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Pictures worth a thousand words
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In trying to broaden my horizon somewhat, and in an effort to keep what little brain cells I still have working, I’ve enrolled in a course that requires me to have a medical dictionary.

It’s one of the most interesting books I’ve ever picked up. It is funny, disturbing, gross and informative all at once.

I had to call The Kid off his computer for a minute so I could show him a picture of an abscess on someone’s (hairy) bottom that measured several inches across.

I could not quit laughing, because the person being photographed was clearly in a hospital gown and on a hospital bed for treatment of the gynormous lesion on his derriere. I could only imagine what the nurse holding the measuring tape must have been thinking...

“Dang, dude! What’d you do? Try to stick a lit firecracker up there?”

The next interesting photograph in the ‘A’ section is of an old woman’s lipsticked lips. Looks kinda puckered up, but the caption underneath states it’s “Swelling of lips caused by allergy.”  Now, I’m assuming it’s a woman because of the orange lipstick color, but truth be told, looks more like an old man’s mouth.

Some guy with “traumatic amputation” had his hand photographed for instructional purposes. He has three fingers and a thumb. Looks completely like something from Area 51 and that’s no lie. If ever I clapped eyes on an alien’s hand, this dude’s got one.

In looking up the definition for “ascending” as it refers to a disease or ailment, I came across another photo that just made me shudder in ascending value from toe to head. It was a picture of not just one, but a “mass” of ascaris lumbricoides. Worms, for lack of making it try to sound nice. These suckers live inside the intestines, and the photo they had looked like a giant squid.  That was definitely one worthy of pulling The Kid away from his video game for.

“Oh my heck, Mom! What is that?” he gasped.

“Worms! From inside someone’s gut! Is that just disgusting or what?”

He slapped his hands over his eyes and said, “I’m glad I already had lunch or I wouldn’t be able to eat after seeing that!”

And you know how you  hear people joke, “If you look up the word (whatever), so-and-so’s picture will be there!”

Well honey, that ain’t no joke in this book!

In having to thumb through the ‘S’ section, I keep coming across this poor guy’s face who has Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. The description of it alone — never mind that there are actually folks who suffer from it — makes those pimples you had as a teenager seem like something so silly. It’s described as “a systemic skin disease, probably identical to toxic epidermal necrolysis, that produces fevers and lesions of the mucous membranes. It is marked by a cutaneous rash that is often widespread and severe. Skin loss may lead to dehydration, infection, or death.” I’m sure the guy who had his picture taken wishes for the latter. Poor dude. Bless his heart.

And then, flipping through the more than 2,700 pages of this book, I see a guy with a nasal speculum up his nose (which is actually one of the funnier photos), and there are charts and drawings of all kinds to show how the body works. Photos and drawings of cells and all the tiny little filaments on each little flagellate and protozoa and things like that.

There’s even a photo of Loa Loa in someone’s blood. Shudder. It is the African eyeworm that infests the subcutaneous tissues and conjuctiva of humans. Its migration causes itching and a creeping sensation.

It is transmitted by flies of the genus Chrysops.

Are you totally skeeved out yet?

Never mind that the drawings are very realistic, you do get “close up” drawings, too. For instance, someone took the time to draw a tapeworm in its actual size, which looks to be about six inches unfurled, and then did a 20x close up of the head of the thing.

That close up view depicts the suckers (that look like eyeballs) and the hooks that it has for a mouth.

Yes, people. These things do get into our bodies.

The other little pests that fall under the Representative Helminth’s category are: pinworms, trichinella, flukes, and hookworms.

I haven’t looked up on Google yet to see if there is a Representative Helminth in office, but if there is, he may want to consider a name change.

Another photo that I find quite amusing is one of a woman in a hospital gown wearing a mask that looks like it could have been worn by Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. It’s a mask for positive pressure ventilation. Another uncomfortable looking piece of medical mechanics. My mother wore something similar for years, occasionally wearing the mask alone at Halloween when the kids came calling to the door. Given that a stroke had robbed her of her ability to speak intelligibly, all she could do was talk in “MarySpeak.”

If the kids weren’t familiar with her, that mask and the sound coming out of her would scare the living daylights out of them! She always got a kick out of it.

I’m taking the time to write down some of the Latin names of the pesky things that like to nibble on our flesh or hibernate inside our gushy guts.

Name-calling is about to reach a whole new level around our house ...