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"But still, polycythaemia vera – what was that? A disease that sounded like a Greek goddess spliced with an East End pub-landlady..."
October 21, 2011 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Will Self: The trouble with my blood. [The Guardian] Diagnosed with a rare blood disease, author Will Self has to endure weekly 'venesections' in hospital. He reflects on illness, addiction and mortality. [Will Self - Previously].
posted by Fizz (28 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've always wondered if leeches would either enjoy or reject a person who had a blood disorder. I'd bet they love blood from a person whose issue is mass-producing too many erythrocytes.
posted by Renoroc at 5:22 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


All I have to say is that reading Will Self always expands my vocabulary.
posted by pharm at 5:36 AM on October 21, 2011


Nice read. I love how Will Self writes like a Chris Morris parody of himself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:46 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


All I have to say is that reading Will Self always expands my vocabulary.

Reading this article forced me to look up:

Polycythaemia vera
septicaemia
lethe
acicular
pabulum
iatrogenic
posted by Fizz at 5:48 AM on October 21, 2011


Him and China Miéville need to fiction fight. Victory will be decided by how often a panel of judges needs to hit the dictionary.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:06 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I like the word 'iatrogenic' because after you look it up you think "well of course it means that". Take the 'iatro' from the end of 'psyche-iatr-y' to get 'doctor', combine it with the 'gen' from 'gen-esis' to get 'originating', and you end up with 'originating in the doctor'.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:34 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


A nurse had to talk me through that first venesection as I gurned and contorted. I directed her away from the veins she favoured in the pits of my elbows because I knew these had thrombosis, and denied her access to the ones that twisted, ivy-like, around the back of the forearm, because I also knew – in junky parlance – that they were "rollers" which would worm away from the needle. The needle was, of necessity, thick – and it took a long time for her to get it inside me. But my blood was thicker still – and it took a long time to pulse out of me.

I had not read him before, but I really enjoy this guy's writing.
posted by Theta States at 6:39 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Such an uncomfortable read, but Self makes it worth it. I wish him all the best.
posted by brappi at 6:51 AM on October 21, 2011


Polycythaemia vera
septicaemia
lethe
acicular
pabulum
iatrogenic
posted by Fizz at 1:48 PM on October 21
lethe
acicular
pabulum
iatrogenic
posted by Fizz at 1:48 PM on October 21


"Lethe" and "pabulum" feature fairly regularly in my utterances. "Acicular", not so much, but I know it. I thought "septicaemia" was pretty well-known. I had not come across "iatrogenic" before but a bit of etymological consideration enabled me to figure out the meaning before looking it up to check.

This means I am just under 5/6ths as smart as Will Self. Probably.
posted by Decani at 6:59 AM on October 21, 2011


Decani, I have an English Lit. degree (it doesn't get much use and isn't worth much) but still I have no problem admitting that some words I just do not know, the dictionary is my friend and any chance I get to look up a word is fun for me.
posted by Fizz at 7:03 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought "septicaemia" was pretty well-known.

Bullshit.
posted by The Bellman at 7:08 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Great piece. I really like Will Self. Initially wrote him off as a spoilt, junkie-dilettante but the more I read and saw of him the more I warmed to him. He's a flawed gem.
posted by jiroczech at 7:13 AM on October 21, 2011


I know about 'septicemia' from a Robyn Hitchcock song (it always wins). And now that fucking song is stuck in my head again. Argh.

Iatrogenic is one of those words that is incredibly useful in encapsulating a concept but at the same time so obscure that you have to reiterate the definition every time you want to use it.
posted by Grimgrin at 7:19 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Will Self has blood?
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought "septicaemia" was pretty well-known.

Bullshit.


No, me too. Perhaps me and Decani have exceptionally ill circles of acquaintance.
posted by robself at 7:33 AM on October 21, 2011


I thought "septicaemia" was pretty well-known.

Several of those words (as is common in a lot of obscure-word lists) are pretty common in the medical field but not so much outside of it (borborygmus , for example). He spelled "septicemia" wrong, though.
posted by TedW at 7:39 AM on October 21, 2011


I think maybe septicaemia is called something different in America, because it's definitely commonly used in Britain.
posted by dng at 7:40 AM on October 21, 2011


Septicaemia - or septicemia, depending on what side of the Atlantic ocean you're on - is an obscure word? Hm. How do you people ever play FreeRice?
posted by lydhre at 7:48 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


That "ae" thing is common in British medical terms (I've seen "haemorrhage," for instance). As I recall, it even expands to "oe"--I can't imagine why my memory deems this worth it, but I absolutely remember seeing "diarrhoea" in an Agatha Christie novel I read in high school. Don't quite know why this happens, but it definitely does.

(Also, I think septicemia is more commonly known as blood poisoning in America.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:52 AM on October 21, 2011


It's another of those Brit / USA differences. See encyclopedia / encyclopaedia, or pediatrics / paediatrics.
posted by Nossidge at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2011


just picked up Psycho Too from the library. Will Self + Ralph Steadman + psychogeography = delicious combination of things this simple internet yelling application likes
posted by beefetish at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2011


I was just being snarky about the septicemia thing. Now I've got a headache and hope I can find some paracetamol here.
posted by TedW at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2011


Hearing Will Self speak his prose is even more fun than reading it. He is currently giving little talks on Radio 4's A Point of View - also available as a podcast.
posted by ainymeek at 8:12 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


To give herself an effective hit, the drug user must apply a tourniquet, raise a vein, probe with the needle, neatly pierce the epidermis and the wall of the vein, watch for the smoky plume of blood to rise up through the needle and into the barrel of the syringe, release the tourniquet then push the plunger home. A practised self-injector will slightly depress the plunger of the hypodermic, then deftly pull it a little way out, depress it a bit more, pull it out again – in so doing the barrel will become suffused with blood, while the inrush of the drugs takes place with a mounting rhythm of successive waves.

Usually I have to go to askMefi for this kind of advice.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:27 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


A friend's father died from this, but that was because they were slow in diagnosing it and even slower in treating. I recall it well because it was September 10, 2001. My friend had made it to Glasgow just in time but was stuck in the UK until flights were resumed.
posted by tommasz at 8:28 AM on October 21, 2011


Ah, the old ae and oe transatlantic fight.

Last time I explained to a doctor that I suffered from Gastro Oesophageal Reflux Disease using the acronym "Gerd", he went from sweetness and light to a barely controlled bundle of highly peeved. "You've got Gord, not Gerd. Not unless you're a bloody American..."

On septicaemia: I thought everyone knew that, seeing as every medical drama in the history of the ever uses it on a regular basis.

Maybe Will Self's Gruniad articles are something you need a TV to understand...
(I'm sorry...)

posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:33 AM on October 21, 2011


simple internet yelling application

Shotgun next sockpuppet handle.
posted by aihal at 10:43 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


polycythaemia vera – what was that?

As a doctor my experience is that this condition presents as a nasty rash often contracted by second-rate writers. The disease is characterised by swivel-eyed twitchiness and rapidly spreads all over the media excreting arch and mannered opinions about just about everything. It has the peculiar side effect of being simultaneously self-conscious (heh) and smugly pretentious. A bit like this post actually. Prognosis is bleak unless the patient learns to control self-promotion (heh heh) and shut the fuck up occasionally.

That'll be 50 guineas please.
posted by gallus at 11:50 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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