As always, one of my new year’s resolutions is to learn more Japanese. This year, however, I want to especially focus on medical terms. I am not a particularly sickly person, but as I get older any slight twinge or throb brings out the hypochondriac in me and has me rushing to medical web-sites to see what it is that is about to kill me. I’ve written before about how I no longer get headaches, just brain tumours, and it is true that I spend far more time worrying about my health than is, well, healthy really. It has been worse than ever in recent months. I now find myself reading about, say, pancreatic cancer, and the site will inform me, ‘Typically people with cancer of the pancreas will exhibit no symptoms,’ and I will think, ‘Shit! That’s me. I’ve got no symptoms!’
Last year, my worrying had me paying a visit to the Sunday emergency hospital and consulting with a doctor who I was fairly certain told me I was okay. Fairly certain. You see, I am fine with Japanese as far as having a chit-chat and going about my daily business is concerned. I can hold my own in a bar or at a family gathering. But there are times when I am talking with doctors and I think I get what they are saying but am not 100％ sure. That kind of comprehension is all well and good with friends and family, but if somebody is telling you that he would like to take out a part of your body, you really ought to make sure you understand completely before you smile and nod and say thank you. I want to be able to go home and tell my wife something more specific than, ‘He said I should lose weight. I think. Either that or he said I have to have my intestine removed.’
And so it is that I am discovering the Japanese words for appendix and liver, kidneys and gall bladder, prostate and pancreas. I may not know what most of these do, but at least I can confirm with the doctor that they are all okay after scaring myself half to death on the Internet.