Thursday, March 17, 2011

Language and Lymph Nodes

Happy St. Patrick's Day from your favorite Irish couple! Please ignore my slight armpit had been a long day.

Do you ever have moments where you suddenly understand an old adage that has not made sense to you since childhood? It is strange that I have that happen to me so often, seeing as I pride myself on my knowledge and use of obscure sayings, but every so often I finally understand a saying and I feel oh so silly for never having gotten it. I remember my first year at girl's camp, there was a "glass half full" award, which went to the most optimistic and upbeat camper. I didn't understand that phrase, and for a long time afterward I felt dumb when people would use it because somehow I just didn't get it. Then one day...BAM. I got it, and every time I hear that term I visualize the hand-painted award with a glass of bright blue water, painted on a canvas sheet in the great outdoors.

Anyway, I was at the doctor's today and my doctor was explaining how I could call in and get some test results. She said "well, you know that no news is good news", meaning, as I understand now, that if you don't hear anything back that it is good and you should just enjoy the status quo, which in this case meant health. However, I had always understood that to mean that any kind of news you ever could get is bad (which made no sense to me since I whole-heartedly believe in the possibility of good news) so this confused me in this context.

Being the question-asker that I am, I asked her to clarify what she meant (which would probably embarrass my mom. She believes that there is in fact such a thing as a dumb question, the nerve) and finally, that term clicked for me. I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. I thought I was too old for such linguistic epiphanies, but apparently not. What other common adages have I misunderstood all these years?! Kills two birds with one stone? A stitch in time saves nine? (Ben Franklin nerd alert).

In other news, is anyone else a hypochondriac? I am. Big time. I am pretty much convinced that my lymph nodes are going to explode because the doctor felt my throat like they always do and said one was a little swollen. I obviously made Dave conduct a thorough investigation of the right side of my throat afterwards (since he is an M.D., naturally), and spent basically the whole afternoon checking back every five minutes on Web MD to see if the list of possible diseases that have that symptom had changed. My mom tried to make me stop internet self-diagnosis since the time I thought that I had had a stroke when I was 17, but she's not here to stop me anymore and I can symptom search to my heart's (or lymph node's) content.


  1. Confessions:
    1. I had to look up "A stitch in time saves nine" to see if I really did know what it meant ;)
    2. I am a big time hypochondriac. Started in college. All those nursing classes and pathophysiology got me thinking I had every strange disease in the book ;) Knowledge was not power in that case....
    3. We canceled our "going out" St. Patrick's day plans due to a larger than normal number of drunks in Boston but I am jealous now because your picture is all festive and cute :)

  2. I only figured out what a stitch in time saves nine about two years ago (age 48), so if you've got it at the tender age of 22, then you're on fire. I thought a stitch in time was like a time warp or something, which I thought was really advanced thinking for old 18th-century Ben. And I really didn't understand what nine was and why anyone would want to save it. Bottom line is you're never too old for linguistic epiphanies.