What’s in a name
I just have to say, I hate the name of my disease. Crohns. It sounds like slang for old person, but plural. Old cronie. How could this stupid sounding word define what is going on inside my body?
Why did we start naming diseases after those who discovered them? The discovery of the disease is a great thing to be sure and we who have it sure are grateful for its original identification. I am in debt to Mr. Crohn, don’t get me wrong. But to have some dead person’s name encapsulate all the feelings, pain, scans, complications, angry white blood cells, late nights in the glow of a nightlight bent over on the toilet puking in a trash can (I like to call this the “double trouble”).
It’s kind of like naming mountains after people who discovered them. These swirling, unwordly peaks spiraling toward heaven that make you feel so tiny and insignificant when you stand in their presence, laughing down at mankind in their glory, capable of wiping us all out in one blow — we have the nerve to name them after a person? Now just who do we think we are? Mt. Whitney, for example, is named after the leader and benefactor of California’s first geological survey (motivated primarily by finding more gold, of course). Mt. Rainier was named by an explorer who named it in honor of his friend — a guy who had never seen the mountain itself. Come on guys.
Why don’t we just call a spade a spade? How about just “Intestinal inflammatory disease” or something a little more descriptive? It sure would save me a little time when explaining what I have to coworkers and people at bars. Parkinsons, Lou gehrig’s disease, and so on. These diseases are difficult, complex and deadly. I’m all for respect and gratitude to those who contributed to their discovery, but I think those of us suffering from them deserve to call them something more, something present tense and in the moment. Something that sounds the way these diseases feel. I have a better idea! Let’s let children name them. “Hurting tummy disease”. We’ll have to find a way to differentiate all the different kinds but hey, it’s a start.
Call me grumpy, but why am I not surprised that what’s going on right now in my body is named after a dead white guy.