Sunday, May 29, 2016

Acronym Overload

My grandniece, Isabella, has an impressive vocabulary for a twelve-year-old. She and her mother, Pam, went to see the new super computer that her father, a Burlington, VT police detective, will be using in his investigations. Pam posted on Facebook that as they entered the police department, Isabella noticed a bin labeled OIC (which means Officer In Charge). She asked: “Daddy, why is there an inbox for Opioid Induced Constipation? Do police officers have a lot of trouble with that?”

After I picked myself up off the floor, it dawned on me that there’s been an explosion in the use of acronyms lately, especially in the field of medicine. They’ve been proliferating at such a rate that a lot of them have multiple meanings. As long as we’re going to have more than one usage, we might as well have one of those relate specifically to seniors.

Take for example the popular term NSAID. You probably know that as NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug (like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen). For me, NSAID means No Sense Asking—I’m Dieting. I need to practice that reply when I’m offered second helpings. And desserts. And, sadly, a glass of wine.

Those who have heart issues will be familiar with ECASA (Enteric Coated Aspirin), one of the medications my husband carries in his travel kit. An equally useful translation at our age is Every Calorie Adds Some Adipose. That’s the fat around our bellies.

ICS (Inhaled Cortico Steroids) are a lifeline for anyone with asthma. In our house we call ICS Inhaled Cat Stuff. That can be anything from their hair to dander to litter than has hitched a ride between their toes and landed on our bed. For people with respiratory problems, our ICS makes the medical ICS a good item to have handy.

Women my age are frequently prone to bladder issues and the advertising community has a field day with the acronyms for what ails us. I’m willing to bet that OAB (OverActive Bladder) and LBL (Light Bladder Leakage) began life on a storyboard in some agency creative’s office. In the age of gluten intolerance, OAB must also stand for Oats And Beans, two fiber sources to substitute for wheat. For many women, LBL means Laughter Brings Leakage. So does sneezing.

My favorite bladder-related acronym is BBS (Bashful Bladder Syndrome), an apparently common anxiety disorder also known as paruresis. This seems to be the opposite of a leaky one. Folks with BBS just can’t go if anyone else is around. I feel bad for anyone who has trouble peeing when they feel the urge; (I can pretty much pee on cue). But I love the phrase so much I’m not going to make up a replacement definition. Wikipedia has a list of déclassé nicknames for this condition, so you don’t need one from me.

“Syndromes” is a word that pops up frequently in these disorders. In addition to Bashful Bladder Syndrome, You have IBS (Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome) and FMS (FibroMyalgia Syndrome). Or as, I prefer to define the latter two: Inhale, Breathe, Snort (how I clear my sinuses during allergy season) and the self-explanatory Feline Mothering Syndrome.

“Disease” also appears in many conditions that are familiar in senior circles. First we have CAD (Coronary Artery Disease), not to be confused with CSD (Cat Scratch Disease), whatever that is. I’ll leave CSD alone, but I’m changing CAD to Check And Double-check. Did we turn off the appliances before we left? Count cat noses? Close the garage door? Then there’s GERD (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease), or as I think of it: Gotta Exercise, but Rarely Do. That one was a no-brainer.

The final medical acronym on my list is EDS (Excessive Daytime Sleepiness). I was surprised when this turned up in my research. It’s such an appropriate phrase for seniors (well, for me anyway) that there’s no way I’m going to tinker with it. I get sleepy after lunch, during excessive heat (like the past few days) and when I’ve been reading or typing for more than twenty minutes.

That puts me at three for three right now. On that note, I think I’ll grab a cat and go take a nap.

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