Tuesday, September 14, 2010


My mom's been in the hospital the last few days--things weren't looking so good, but she seems to have turned a corner. In this somewhat more optimistic space, I thought I'd write up a word from doctor speak. You know how it is--they make their rounds, they talk to the interested parties. It's always interesting to watch just how they approach this. Sometimes they are actually concerned to communicate with the family and sometimes they are really just pretending to. One sign of the latter intention is when they speak in medical jargon.

I have to admit that I failed at this blog's mission in this circumstance a couple of days ago. One of the doctors was saying that something or other could happen since she was no longer febrile. It was my sister, not me who more forthrightly asked, "What's febrile?"

Of course, I've heard the word febrile before. But I've let other associations take hold without ever bothering to dispel vagueness. Sounding close to 'feeble' and also with a ring of "fibrullation", which I do know is about the heart, the main source of my mom's problem, I thought I had enough of a sense of it to pass it over. And for some reason, I also kind of picture the fibrous membrane around some fruit.

But febrile simply means "feverish". (Thanks, doc, would it really have been so hard to just say that? Well, he did say "Sorry.") It from the Latin febris, in other words, just another journey the concept took from the same beginnings.

Probably I should have known febrile. But what did he mean when he said "triatic"?

Yeah--I was afraid to ask.

Oh, the picture? It's actually the inner courtyard of the hospital, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. It's a pretty great place, as hospitals go. Too bad my mom isn't in much of a position to enjoy it right now.


  1. Seana, I'm sorry to hear about your mom, and I hope she continues to improve.

    I know "febrile" from my kid illnesses. One thing parents are warned to watch for when the kids get fevers is a febrile seizure, which is basically a seizure caused by a sudden high spike in temperature. They are supposedly somewhat common, (although thankfully my kids never had them).

  2. Thanks, Glenna.

    I'm kind of surprised my sister wasn't more familiar with it then, but then her son is 17 and maybe she's just forgotten about those early, anxious days.

  3. Seana, I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I know situations like this are difficult for the whole family. My thoughts are with you and your sisters. - Janet

  4. Thanks, Janet. It's a complicated situation, but at least we're all dealing with it together. I'll let you know more in a group email to the gang.

  5. Seana,

    I hope your mom is improving and you have my best wishes and prayers for her recovery.

  6. Thank you, Sean. She seems to be doing steadily better. Unfortunately, I came down with a cold in the midst of all this and it seemed better not to risk infecting her, so I'm at a distance at this point.

  7. Seana,

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I hope everything is okay. You and your family are in our thoughts.

  8. Thank you, Brian. If all went well she went to a nursing home where she can get physical therapy this afternoon. Hope is that she can get home before too long. It's all been a bit harrowing, but things seem to be stablizing for now, though there is always the inclination to knock on wood when you say something like that.

    She has a lot of friends and a lot of support, which is helpful since none of us live in town, though we're all in the same state.

  9. My best to you and your mother.

    I have always thought that "febile" is a, er, cool word.

  10. Thank you, Peter, on behalf of her as well. Unfortunately, there have been some setbacks this week--hard to evaluate how serious they are.

    It's funny that b changed to v changed to along the way. I would have had no difficulty identifying 'fevrile', I think.

  11. For heavens's sake Seana, you have a cardiac nurse here; use your resources! Love, Ann

  12. I never said I was a grammatical nurse.

  13. Well, Ann, Google is just a tad closer to hand...

    It would have been nice to have you as my mom's cardiac nurse, though. That would have been swell.