Having spent rather more time that I’ve wanted to with the medical profession over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed the way that they use language is sometimes just a little different to the way the rest of us do.
Take the word ‘uncomfortable’. Recently we’ve replaced our mattress because, as it was several years old, it had become somewhat uncomfortable to sleep on. It wasn’t painful to sleep on the mattress, but it certainly wasn’t as cosy as it used to be. So I thought I had a pretty good handle on what ‘uncomfortable’ meant. For example, this looks pretty uncomfortable to me:
However, having recently undergone a bone marrow biopsy, I now realise that the medical profession use the word ‘uncomfortable’ in an entirely different way to, well, everyone else I’ve ever met. Whenever I’ve been told that something will be uncomfortable, what they’ve actually meant is that it will really sting while we’re doing it, and will probably remain sore for several days afterwards. I really never, ever, want to hear that something they’re about to do to me is going to hurt – even a little!
The second word I’ve been thinking about is ‘carer’. While booking a flu jab for us a couple of days ago, the surgery asked my wife if she was my carer.
Its use threw both of us off balance temporarily. While I understand why that word was used, it somehow doesn’t seem appropriate in my current condition. When I get really poorly from the chemotherapy, then yes, I may need a carer.
But at the moment, while I’m still relatively well, hearing that word used feels – how should I put this? – just a little bit uncomfortable.