'Bono needs to mind and rest that precious 'Bono vox' of his' - Maurice Gueret
In Maurice Gueret's column he writes about Bono's vox, doctors writing in plain English, and the world's oldest living married couple in Japan.
Poor Bono has been in stage wars again with his voice. And it's not the first time lyrics have deserted him as vocal fatigue set in on tour. Doubtless he has a good throat specialist (laryngologist) to peer down at his cords at intervals and make sure all is OK. My old medical textbook, in the section on conditions of the larynx, said that you should never make a diagnosis of chronic laryngitis until other lesions causing hoarseness are carefully excluded. For patients, this means ongoing symptoms should be investigated with X-rays or scans, blood tests, having a look with a scope and a biopsy if needed. Chronic laryngitis can be an occupational hazard, as teachers, public speakers and actors will attest. The habitual shouting of sergeant-majors and barrow boys also makes them vulnerable to the condition. Singers with long careers are prone to getting little bruise-like nodules on their vocal cords that may need to be removed. We wish Bono well. But he may not be able to bellow out U2's back catalogue indefinitely. There is a lot of money at stake when stadium bands go on tour. The deals that are done are covered by insurance and insurers get nervous when recurring ailments cancel gigs. Bono needs to mind and rest that precious 'Bono vox' of his.
Write to me
A welcome initiative has been announced to get hospital doctors to write letters in plain English to their patients. Getting them to write anything at all could be the first hurdle. Traditional medical practice has been for consultants to write to the patient's GP. But now the UK's Royal Colleges have got together with a suggestion that hospitals write directly to the patient using friendly language, and just copy the same letter to the family doctor. Short sentences are prescribed. Acronyms and Latin abbreviations are to be avoided. You will not be referred to as the diabetic, you will have diabetes. Rectum is out - back passage is in. Diuretics become water tablets. The swelling at the bottom of your legs becomes just that - bipedal oedema is out. Other banned words include cerebral (brain), renal (kidney), pulmonary (lung) and even paediatric (child). Words like chronic may become a thing of the past. Doctors use chronic to describe something long-standing. Patients equate it with 'very bad indeed'.
In light of the above, it may be a case of bad timing for the College of Anaesthetists in Ireland to announce that it wants to add three syllables to its trade name. The doctors who put you to sleep want to be known now as anaesthesiologists. They had a ballot on the issue, and the vote was quite close at 60/40 to join their American cousins in ology-land. One medical journalist joked that it had taken her a full decade to learn how to spell anaesthesia and anaesthetist in the first place. A senior officeholder at the college called it a "massive opportunity to rebrand the speciality and let the wider public know that anaesthesiologists are indeed perioperative specialist physicians". I'd say the yawning public would be better served by a rethink from our perioperative specialist gasmen of anaesthesiology.
208 and Counting
Nursing homes don't grab nice headlines too often, so it was pleasing to see Japanese couple Mr and Mrs Matsumoto celebrate a new entry in the Guinness Book of Records at their care centre. They are the world's oldest living married couple, with a combined age of 208. Masao Matsumoto claims 108 of them. His 100-year-old wife Miyako says, with endearing honesty, that the secret ingredient of their long life and marriage has been her patience. Last year, they celebrated 80 years of marriage. The couple both have wheelchairs, eat with chopsticks and share a retirement room in the port city of Takamatsu. There was an interesting paper on centenarians in Europe published last winter, which revealed that just one in six of our centenarians is male. Not much patience in the EU! It also found that two-thirds of centenarians still live at home. In Romania the figure is 90pc; in Iceland, it's just 10pc. Ireland is the only country with a Centarian Bounty of two-and-a-half grand from the President. They send up to 10 cheques a week from Aras an Uachtaran, and I'd be interested to know from our esteemed President (if he is not too busy) roughly how many are posted to care centres and how many are sent to private homes?