nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Medical Quote of the Day

Philosophers make for difficult quotes, but the following justifies a close reading.  Karl Jaspers was a famous psychiatrist and philosopher.  Politically he was strongly anti-totalitarian, but at the same time was suspicious of majoritarian democracy.

"As the order of existence becomes increasingly rational and is applied to everyone, its extraordinary success carries with it a feeling of impending doom and of an anxiety which develops because it is no longer apparent what makes life worthwhile....  The anxiety affects the body.  In spite of increasing longevity, the growing feeling of insecurity is unmistakable.  Demands for medical care go far beyond the limit which is justified by medical science.  If the mind cannot cope with existence, if man can no longer tolerate the lack of meaning, he escapes into illness which affords him protection because he does understand it."
--The Intellectual Spiritual Situation of our Time, Karl Jaspers [1883-1969]

I'm reminded by this of how we continue to expand our definition of illness to include difficulties many of us experience in living our lives.  How comforting it is to see our distress as an entity outside of illness not of our making over which we are powerless.

1 comment:

Doc D said...

Hi Ruth,
Osteopenia is just a term for less than normal bone density, but not enough to qualify for the condition "osteoporosis." You could also give it the name that describes it, as I did (less than normal bone density). We do this with other situations: if you do a glucose tolerance test and the response is not the normal one, but also isn't what you would see with diabetes, we call it "abnormal glucose tolerance" (AGT) not "semi-diabetes." Sometimes AGT doesn't lead to diabetes, sometimes it does. Your lowered bone density may progress or it may not.

Nevertheless it is a warning that this likely and you should follow your doctor's recommendation.

But back to osteopenia. A Latin-derived technical word always sounds better, don't you think? So, technically it's a less-than-normal state but not a disease...yet. It should be reimbursable, nevertheless. Our reliance on named conditions is exactly what I wrote about: real or not, insurance needs a name, so we give it one. The naming-coverage connection is flawed: it promotes naming everything.

For me, the jury is out on fibromyalgia. Unlike most diseases, the definition, cause, treatment, and prognosis are ambiguous. I do know that patients who believe they have it are adamant, and get very angry when anyone questions it.

Thanks for your note.

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