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AWADmail Issue 109

January 18, 2004

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages


From: Lewis A. Dunham III (ldunham756ATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bariatrics

Bariatrics is a word that I am intimately familiar with. Seeing this word on "A Word a Day" allowed me the opportunity to recollect where I have been as well as look toward a healthier future.

Fourteen months ago I underwent something called bariatric surgery, specifically a laparoscopic gastric bypass (Roux en Y). After seeing many others who suffered from being very overweight go through the process of surgery and their subsequent success (beautiful metamorphosis), I went forward with the procedure. It was the best decision I ever made.

Morbid obesity is a serious health problem in America and the world. Bariatric medicine has come a long way in recent years, helping thousands to achieve a quality of health and life that was once only a distant dream. In my case, that dream became reality. I have shed 165 pounds and gained more than I could have possibly imagined, feeling physically and spiritually better than I have in decades. At 40, I feel like a man half my age.

Thanks for including this special word on your list.


From: Khelly Webb (kali.khellyATverizon.net)
Subject: Bariatrics and loneliness

As a physician for 26 years, I am so tired of talking about proper diet and food and not being listened to that I am actually "fed up" and quitting practice. I can't tell you how many times I have given the list of dire consequences to patients only to have them return and tell me how "psychic" I am when they learn that they have one of those dire consequences!

I have found that if I tell of my theory that they are eating to fill the loneliness or keep down the anger and rage then they listen. Maybe.


From: Bob Barnes (bbarnesATallenmatkins.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bariatrics

Another word that emphasizes the weight aspect is bariatric, as in "hyperbaric chamber". Used to help patients with pressure-related difficulties--scuba divers who need to recompress and then decompress in a more controlled fashion, others working deep underground. One common problem is "the bend," caused by the nitrogen in the bloodstream coming out of solution too quickly.

Although described as a "pressure" chamber, pressure is merely force per unit area.


From: Tom Regner (tgregnerATcomcast.net)
Subject: Use of the word outside medical circles contraindicated?

I've often wondered why "contraindicated" is generally confined to the medical profession. It occurs to me that there is nothing intrinsically medical in the word itself, and while its origins are doubtless tied to the medical industry, the essential meaning of the word is such that its use should be broadened to include any situation in which an "obvious" solution is "contraindicated" due to extenuating circumstances.

To invent an example: "Deployment of our usual process is contraindicated in this case due to the project being rolled out in phases rather than all at once."

On the other hand, I remember using the word in the workplace when I wrote a presentation for my boss to deliver to his peers. He didn't read it over first, and stumbled over the word, trying to pronounce it "con-TRAIN-dih-cated," which of course made him self conscious. He banned the word from further use. Sad, isn't it?


From: Jon Pennington (jpenningATuclink.berkeley.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--antipyretic

Antipyretic plays an interesting role in my life, because I was a staffer at the National Spelling Bee when Joanne Lagatta won the bee in 1991 with "antipyretic." I can even remember watching a big screen TV in a huge hotel ballroom while the letters A-N-T-I-P-Y-R-E-T-I-C crawled across the screen. Strangely enough, given this week's theme, I think Ms. Lagatta is now a medical student.

Jon C. Pennington (1986 National Spelling Bee champion, odontalgia)


Words are the soul's ambassadors, who go / Abroad upon her errands to and fro. -James Howell, writer (c. 1594-1666)

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