Sunday 4 November 2007

I'm not a doctor but....

I'm not a doctor. I do have a degree in Computer Science and I toyed with the idea of going on to do a Masters and then a Doctorate in the same discipline. But wanting to respond to a plea of "Is anybody here a Doctor?" by dramatically bursting through a crowd of concerned onlookers, looking down upon a woman, urgently in need to a tracheotemy, and declaring, while shaking my head in disgust, "this woman's not a computer, my skills are useless here" probably wasn't the right motivation so I decided against it.

I do however, have access to dictionaries and the internet and through such mediums I have been able to discern the definition for the word syndrome. It refers to the association of several clinically recognisable features, signs, symptoms or characteristics which often occur together.

The postmortem is likely to return a verdict of Sudden Adult Death syndrome which, in my opinion, is little more than a cop out by the medical community. Its not a syndrome as described above - there are no clinically recognisable features (well apart from the fact that the subject died suddenly, for no apparent reason and is lying on a hospital gurney waiting to be sliced open). We are unable to highlight those at risk of suffering Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (well apart from adults who are currently alive). And for the most part, it seems impossible to point to something that all victims had in common (apart from dying suddenly obviously). It stinks very much of "we're not quite sure exactly what this is, what causes it, how to detect it or how to stop it" so we'll call it this for now".

I don't doubt that doctors and academics everywhere are taking this very seriously, putting millions of dollars and thousands of hours into study and research but to label it as a syndrome is, in my opinion at least, a misnomer. AIDS is a proper syndrome as is Stockholm Syndrome and Asperger Syndrome. I appreciate it may be handy to group similar cases together - to provide a focal point for study and research but drop the word Syndrome.

Or else introduce the following syndromes...

  • Flattened By A Car Syndrome
  • Bullet Through The Head Syndrome
  • Parachute Didn't Open Syndrome
  • Water Filled Lungs Syndrome
  • Plane-Mountain Collision Syndrome

And since I coined these phrases I expect at least one of these to be commonly referred to as Bad Ambassador Syndrome. (Maybe that would be one where you talk and write complete shite about subjects you know nothing about).

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