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MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND (article first published : 2005-12-28)

As we’re well into what the world of journalism is fond of referring to as “The Silly Season” I thought I’d share with you an amusing Glossary From A New Medical Textbook that recently came my way via a friend who has an acquaintance who puts out a regular newsletter at the old-age home she retired to in Zimbabwe, which had the old folks chuckling over their breakfast bananas recently …

BENIGN: what you be after you be eight; ARTERY – the study of paintings; CAESAREAN SECTION – a neighbourhood in Rome; ENEMA – not a friend; FIBULA – a small lie; LABOUR PAIN – getting hurt at work; MORBID – a higher offer than I bid; NITRATES – cheaper than day rates; PELVIS – second cousin to Elvis; OUTPATIENT – person who has fainted; SEIZURE – Roman emperor; VARICOSE – close by; DILATE – to live long; MEDICAL STAFF – a doctor’s cane; NODE – I knew it; BACERIA – Back door to cafeteria; COLIC – A sheep dog; BARIUM – What doctors do when a patient dies; CAT Scan – Searching for a kitty; CAUTERIZE – Made eye contact with her; COMA – a punctuation mark; FESTER – quicker than someone else; HANGNAIL – what you hang your coat on; D & C – where Washington is; POST OPERATIVE – a letter carrier.

And while on the topic of Matters Medical, here are a few more in same vein …because doctors’ medical records don’t always make sense! “By the time the patient was admitted his rapid heart had stopped and he was feeling better; The patient was released to the outpatient department without dressing; The patent is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed; Discharge status: Alive but without permission; Patient has left his white blood cells in another hospital.”

This one – not a medical joke but an aquatic one - amuses me since I’m a keen swimmer, adore chatting to children in the pool (they can be so funny, and they love a riddle or a silly joke), so can’t wait to try this one out on them first thing tomorrow morning when I do my daily hour of lengths) …”Why were the elephants thrown out of the swimming pool?” – Because they couldn’t hold up their trunks!”

But another aspect to this special time of year is attending a Christmas Carol evening or any other form of choral performance, and I loved this article, taken from the San Francisco Chronicle

A number of recently released international studies have found that singing in harmony promotes mental and physical well-being by reducing stress, strengthening the immune system and elevating mood. The studies, conducted in Germany, Australia and San Francisco, also credit group singing with boosting concentration, fighting infection, and helping seniors have fewer accidents and require less medication.

A cappella music, the singing of songs without instruments, has a long history of overcoming racial barriers. Back in the 1950s, when society was much more segregated, doo-wop groups singing on street corners were routinely integrated. John Neal, producer of the a cappella summit, recalls a friend of his who sang doo-wop telling him, “When you walked into a neighbourhood where members of another race weren’t welcome, if you sang in a doo-wop group, everyone just let you be.”

`Producer Neal stresses that a cappella music now encompasses all forms of music, including barbershop, hip-hop, heavy metal, jazz and opera. He also emphasized that novices are welcome at the summit. “They’ll feel better for it,” he said.

Neal pointed to a recent Washington Post article in which Kelsey Menehan, a therapist and chorus member who lectures each year at Washington’s Center for Mind-Body Medicine, said this: “I think (singing) does something chemically, maybe in the same way that exercise does.” Not only do you get an endorphin rush,” Menehan said, “but singing provides ‘the added benefit of beauty”.

In one study, members of a university college choral society were asked whether the chorus benefited their health. Three-quarters of respondents said they benefited emotionally, and almost six in 10 said they noticed a physical gain. Half of the respondents said there was a spiritual boost as well. Survey participants also reported feeling more positive, an enhanced lung capacity, reduced stress and feeling more alert.

And after that uplifting news, here’s a quote from an Egyptian writer named Naguib Mahfouz, which I hope world leaders will keep firmly in mind and take to heart before embarking on any further wars:

You need to remain hopeful and believe in peace always, because nobody can wage war forever unless he is mad.

So, let us all wish for a peaceful year in 2006. Blessings to you and your loved ones. - Bev Pulé




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