Day Five for Speak Out With Your Geek Out. I promise a return to the Usual Crankiness next week!
I don’t get mystical about much in this universe. But one of the biggies is words. They have power and meaning. Anybody who tells you otherwise is either ignorant or trying to sell you a nice patch of desert in Florida.
More specifically, however, I get mystical about the naming of things. If something has a name, it can be understood. It can be identified. And most importantly, it can be seen. So no surprise that I should feel that way, having spent the past 30 or so years of my life without a name for my medical condition.
But what I’ve only now just begun to see is that I’ve been on an almost unconscious quest to find that elusive name. I became a medical editor, which is a very specialized niche in the editorial world. I’ve read hundreds of thousands of case studies of rare diseases or illnesses. All of which are, when you get right down to it, nameless people. Just like me.
Medical research, however, is not just my career. I’m actually a geek for it. Send me a CNN article about a gene therapy to cure diabetes, and the first thing I do is hunt down the original article. Somehow, reading the original author’s words carry more weight. More meaning and, yes, power.
A friend is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer? The new antidepressant prescribed for them has weird side effects? I happily truffle about for journal articles and abstracts to root out useful information for them.
I blushingly admit that I keep PubMed bookmarked as a favorite. I will think nothing of driving to UCLA or UCI medical library if I cannot find online the exact article I want. Finding just the right bit of published research is like unearthing Aztec treasure, to my mind.
I now realize this is my unconscious way of trying to identify my own condition. To find that one bit of research that makes the last 30-plus years of my life make some sort of sense — at least from a medical perspective. Maybe, just maybe, it might actually give me a name.