Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's in a Name

I wonder if the way people feel about their names has some influence over the way they feel about themselves in general?  

My daughter, who's a pretty confident, exuberant kid, wrote an essay not too long ago describing her name as something that "inspires" her.  We were so happy about that!  I think it can be hit or miss, though - parents pick names they themselves love for their children, but often the kids end up not really liking those names.  

When I put in epidurals for labor or give spinal anesthesia for C-sections, I always ask, just out of friendly curiosity, what names the parents have considered.  Sometimes they prefer to keep them private, but more often than not, they're happy to share.  

Someone I know was recently going through some papers and suddenly let out a noise of surprise.  "This person's name is Anesthesia!"

"Anastasia?"  I asked, thinking I'd misunderstood.

"No, Anesthesia - you know, like what you do for a living."

"That's her name?  Is it spelled differently?

"Nope.  See for yourself.  An-es-thesi-a."

This got me thinking about medical words not to use as names for people.

I don't mind the name Carina pronounced ca-ree-na, but the medical word carina, in English often pronounced car-eye-na, means the bifurcation of the trachea, which might not appeal to some people.

Then there's...

Candida - yeast infection

Coryza - inflammation of the nasal mucous membranes (in other words, a head cold)

Verruca - wart

Milia - the tiny little whiteheads newborn babies get on their noses (which clear up on their own)

Morpholino - a synthetic molecule that blocks other molecules from binding to a particular sequence of nucleic acids

and, my "favorite" among the medical-words-to-avoid-as-names,

Melena - black, tarry stool

...though I can't really imagine anyone choosing any of the above names for their children, except perhaps the one most to be avoided, Melena.  You never know, though - with unusual celebrity baby names like Moon Unit, Bronx Mowgli, Sage Moonblood, and Satchel, perhaps it's just a matter of time before we see a Morpholino.

For more medical-name fun, click here for a page on medical terms that would make good names for rock bands.  I could amuse myself indefinitely trying to think of a few more!


Resident Anesthesiologist Guy (RAG) said...

Had a premed prof who liked the word "peristalsis". Thought it sounded like a Greek god or something. Probably not the best word to name your child either.

Øystein said...

There is a Norwegian band with the rather bizarre name "The Melena Summersessions".

I wrote a post some time ago on metal bands with medical names. You'd probably like "Narcosis" ;)

T. said...

RAG - Did s/he like "Borborygmi" too? :)
(BTW, I miss reading your blog!)

Oystein - I can understand naming a death metal band "Nauseous Surgery" or "The County Medical Examiners;" even "Visceral Bleeding" and "Surgical Dissection;" but "Abscess" and "Grotesque Hysterectomy?"

Thanks for linking to that interesting post! :)

Jon Moulton said...

Hmmm. Morpholino for a boy, Morpholine for a girl. Perhaps for a middle name...

- Jon from Gene Tools

Elaine Fine said...

A long time ago, while I was (and was no doubt woozy from the chemicals I used to) strip wax from the floor, I pondered the words Ammonia and Linoleum being used as girls' names.

dr_dredd said...

Remember Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? There was Verruca Salt! She was a wart if there ever was one...