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Shell Shocked: Why can’t physicians learn how to speak English?

By Staff | Apr 2, 2019

Art Stevens

I got the results of an ultra sound test the other day. I anxiously logged on to my health chart to determine if I would be able to compete in the upcoming Olympics key lime pie eating contest or not. There was so much riding on this test.

I opened it and began to read:

The liver measures 14.4 cm sagittaly. The liver is homogeneous in echotexture. No focal liver lesions demonstrated.

I read this first part ten times. Sagittaly? Echotexture? I’m aware that my medical knowledge and terminology are severely limited having been an English language in college. But aren’t these words presumably English? I looked up sagittal. The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition is “related to, situated in, or being the median plane of the body or any plane parallel to it.” Well, of course. I should have known this. It was taught in kindergarten.

I continued reading my test report.

The gallbladder is mildly distended and appears unremarkable. There is no ?gallbladder wall thickening. There are no echogenic shadowing gallstones?or sludge material seen.

No echogenic shadowing gallstones or sludge material seen? Get me Dr. Kildare. Oh, come on, surely you remember who Dr. Kildare is. What is sludge material? Isn’t sludge typically found in oil fields and swamps? Synonyms for sludge are mud, muck, mire, dirt, slime and slush. Am I to be grateful that no sludge resides in my gallbladder? What would it be doing there in the first place? Is my body an oil well? I suppose I’m fortunate that my test results indicate that although no sludge was found in my gallbladder you could still find it in Texas.

The common bile duct is non-dilated with a diameter measuring 3.9 mm.

Is this good? Do you know what the common bile duct should measure in mm? Is 3.9 considered a safe measurement? Or is my common bile duct trying to drill its way out of my body?

The pancreas shows normal parenchymal echogenicity for minimally visualized mid body region.

Normal parenchymal echogenicity, eh? Well I should be pleased that the word “normal” is used to describe this condition. Imagine if I had abnormal parenchymal echogenicity. Why I suppose that would mean that the thigh bone connected to the leg bone and praise the word of the Lord. Imagine going to a cocktail party and describing your health to a total stranger. “I just received good news from my doctors. My pancreas is showing normal parenchymal echogenicity. That means that I can now do anything I want, including running off with your wife.”

The remainder of the pancreas is obscured by overlying bowel gas. The spleen measures 12.1 cm in sagittal length. No focal splenic abnormality is demonstrated.

More good news about my pancreas. Now I need to find out what the pancreas does. I think the pancreas, spleen and gallbladder all work in unison to deliver blackened salmon to the bile duct which, as you know, swallowed the spider that ate the fly.

There is no hydronephrosis in the kidneys. The visualized inferior vena cava is unremarkable. The distal portion of the inferior vena cava is obscured by overlying bowel?gas. There is no evidence for ascites or pleural effusion.

More good news. Who wants to walk around with hydronephrosis? Or ascites? Or pleural effusion? All these symptoms can interfere with my pickleball skills. I need to be on my game to run those pickleball pretenders off the court. Pleural effusion would only interfere with my game strategy. I think I will take a selfie of my inferior vena cava. Who says it’s unremarkable?

I finished reading my ultra sound test and came to the following conclusions. Why can’t doctors talk the way we do? No wonder their bedside manners leave a lot to be desired. Why do they have a language all their own? From now on I’m going to communicate with doctors in pig Latin.

And what’s the point of reading medical test results in the first place? They’re undecipherable. It’s like learning a foreign language – hydronephrosis, parenchymal echogenicity, sagitally. I’m going to ask my doctors to send me results in Swahili from now on.