Walk completed August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Recovery Day 5 -- Random Thoughts

A long-distance walker’s thoughts dwell mainly on satisfying primal needs like shelter, food, and water. If weather or trail conditions become challenging, they may assume prominence, as will the condition of your feet, legs and other body parts if any of them malfunction. For obvious reasons, my heart has recently supplanted thoughts of other needs while hiking.

My heart valve has been repaired, so I’m no longer thinking about that. I’m out of intensive care and now in a recovery room where the hospital staff is still attending to all of my primal needs. As a result, I have far too much time for random thoughts. I’m like a community activist on a grant.

One of my random thoughts is how medical people are a lot like legal people. Being a highly-trained lawyer, I know a lot about legal people, and the past few weeks have taught me a quite a bit about medical people. That makes me fully qualified to compare them. It also makes me fully qualified to run for political office. I understand that in Britain the phrase is “stand for election” rather than “run for office.” In view of the tubes still protruding from several bodily orifices, I would do much better standing in Britain than running in the U.S. But I digress.

Some legal people and medical people may be insulted by the comparison, but I mean no disrespect. My point is that both professions customarily utilize multi-syllabicated terminology in lieu of ordinary words. Why do medical people speak of laceration when they mean “cut,” hematoma when they mean “bruise,” catheterize when they mean “shove a tube up,” and hemorrhoidal discomfort when they mean “pain in the butt”?

Legal people use big words too—not because we understand them, but because we charge by the hour, and the longer it takes us to say something, the more we get paid. Medical people aren’t paid by the hour, but rather by how many of those little boxes they can check on the billing slip. The random thought occurs to me that medical people use unintelligible words and coded invoices so nobody will know what disgusting procedure they actually performed.

Regardless of their motivation, the utilization of cryptic and bombastic language by the legal and medical communities is an unfortunate convention to which I long ago avowed never to subscribe. With that in mind, I call upon the medical community to cease its word-mongering obfuscation, and provide the same degree of verbal transparency as practiced by other noble professions. Politicians, for example. I realize that there is a fine line between being a community activist and being a hemorrhoidal discomfort, so issuing this challenge involves some degree of personal risk. After all, the other side is armed with needles. And tubes.

I think I’ll keep having random thoughts until I actually get out of the hospital and back on the trails. I suspect the medical people are as eager for that to happen as I am.

© 2010 Ken Klug


  1. It occurs to me that lawyers and doctors have nothing on university professors who actually pride themselves on writing everything, no matter how inconsequential, in prose that is designed to demonstrate how many multi-syllabic works and arcane types of phraseology they know. The result is an extreme waste of time for large numbers of people who have to wade through twenty pages to decipher something that could have been stated in two paragraphs. Can you tell I am glad to be starting another academic year with its never ending set of meetings?
    Enjoy the leisure and reflection time provided by your hospital stay.

  2. Hi Ken,
    I'm not sure what Cathy was trying to say their, but never mind!! In straight forward ENGLISH language I'm glad all is going well post surgery, enjoy the recuperation and hopefully your challenge is still on for next year.