The doctor’s word

What is it about medical personnel and the words ‘slip’ and ‘pop’? I have a recurring fantasy of a pair of doctors called Dr Slip and Dr Pop, so often have I been invited to ‘slip your things off and pop onto the couch’. I’d rather not pop anywhere, thank you.

Even the dentist is at it. This morning after examining my mouth to discover why I couldn’t bite any more, he offered, ‘Shall I just pop the tooth out now?’. Now it is nearly forty years since I last had a tooth out, but my memories are vivid, and ‘pop’ is certainly not the word I would use to describe a tooth extraction. ‘Heave’, ‘yank’ and ‘lever’ are more like it. There was a horrendous grinding noise as he performed the operation, and being numbed I was unable to tell whether he was taking half my jaw with it.

Do they all get taught a special language at medical or dental school, which includes magic phrases like ‘you’ll just feel a little prick’ (I certainly did feel a prick with my mouth wedged open).

Which reminds me, before and after the extraction I was having fun with my regular column, making up words I feel ought to exist. One of them, no doubt inspired by my recent experience, was the verb ‘to aesthetize’. This, as you might guess, defines the process of becoming sensitized to thoughts or feelings that you were impervious to before. I think a bit of aesthetizing would do no end of good in the world. So long as it didn’t make us all too pervious.

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