Medical Terminology

Do you ever get the feeling that your health and well being have been taken over by a never ending series of  ISTS  and  OLOGISTS?  You need medical care?  No one goes to a plain old doctor any more.  This is the age of specialists and specialized specialists.  You don’t call the eye guy as your sight dims.  Neither do you go to an opthamologist.  You go to see a retinologist at the opthamologist’s clinic.

Your back aches?  You consult a rheumatologist at the orthopedist’s clinic.  The ENT Doc is now known as an  Otorhinolaryngologist.  You have a runny nose, you call for some nose drops.  A chirpy young voice answers,  “You have reached the offices of your friendly  OTORHINOLARYNGOLOGIST,  Dr. Whatever His Name Is”.  By the time she gets all this out, your runny nose has turned into a full-blown sinus infection, your throat is raw and you’re coughing too hard to make the appointment.

The danger here is that those of us who have reached the age where we’re part of a study now underway by leading gerontologists ( a euphemistic term for treating old people)  may not see as well or hear as well as we used to.  We need to be sure we understand exactly who we’re making our appointments with when we call for help.  Terrible mistakes have been made.

You might limp in to see your podiatrist, bunions blazing, only to find that you’re at a pediatrician’s office.  One woman I knew went to see her orthopedist with a sprained left thumb and found herself at the obstetrician’s.

My neighbor phoned his psychologist to discuss a slight problem he was having with his spouse, only to call a proctologist by mistake.  Someone I heard of needed a neurologist and ended up with a urologist, and a phlebotomist’s patient consulted a pathologist.

I myself once made an appointment with a gastroenterologist after a particularly bad spell of indigestion  How embarrassing to show up at the gynecologist’s office complaining of a stomach ache.

And then there was this classic; a dear little friend of mine was advised to consult an endocrinologist and she made the mistake of phoning an entomologist.  Now, entomology isn’t even a medical field, it’s the study of insects.  That poor soul felt really buggy by the time she got home again.  She claims she learned a lot about the Mediterranean fruit fly during her visit, though, so her time wasn’t wasted.

So, folks, be careful, be alert.  Life gets complicated enough without these mix-ups. When you have the need to visit a specialist’s specialist for whatever specialized purpose. be especially careful whom you call.  You might end up seeing stars with a meteorologist – or is that an astrologist? archeologist?  anthropologist?   No, no, I’ve got it all wrong, an astronomer, who isn’t an  OLOGIST  at all.   There’s a big difference.

And don’t even get me started on the names of all the new medications.


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