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Making up Our Own Names for Things (Medical Conditions)

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So you’ve just graduated from an expensive overseas medical school having spent many long days and nights learning all the arcane secrets of the medical profession. You’re full of pride at becoming a doctor and are bursting with eagerness to put your hard-earned knowledge to good use. Then… you get assigned to a clinic in deep rural Jamaica or one of Kingston’s ghettos and you start to realise that you don’t know quite as much as you thought you did. Much to your distress, patients frequently come into the clinic complaining of strange conditions and illnesses you’ve never before seen mentioned in a medical textbook. Don’t panic, young healer, Jamaicans have their own names for everything. Luckily for you ThingsJamaicansLove.com has compiled a brief list of Jamaican names for some common illnesses/medical conditions:

Block Up: Constipation. I don’t think we need to discuss this one in much detail, do we? (Ever notice how Jamaicans have a way of describing things that gets right to the point?)

Cold in the Mole: Upper respiratory tract infection/head cold. Caused, according to my Grandmother, by staying out late in the “night-dew”.

Bandy-leg: Bow legs. Genu Varum. Many Jamaicans consider slight bow-leggedness an attractive feature in both men and women. Extreme bow legs, however, may be a source of derision. I once overheard a mother tell her son: “Johnny, If you tink dat picky-picky, bumpy-face, bandy-leg gyal ever gonna be my daughter-in-law you have anodder ting coming!”

Eye Dark: Cataracts. A clouding that develops in the crystalline lens of the eye caused by a variety of factors. Usually results in varying degrees of impaired vision. The resulting impaired vision may have its own negative side-effects. I have for, example, heard a friend of mine suggest that it was a combination of cataracts and white rum that resulted in him waking up one morning to find himself beside Griselda, the bandy-legged, mustachioed, buck-toothed waitress of his favourite bar.

Pressure: High Blood pressure or Hypertension. Chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries are elevated. Factors which can increase the risk of hypertension include obesity, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, salt intake, alcohol intake, ageing, vitamin D deficiency, family history of hypertension and consuming certain foods. In other words, pretty much everything except breathing will help cause Hypertension. High Blood pressure is not, however, despite your mother’s assertions to the contrary, caused by disrespectful children who don’t know how good they have it or being married to a “wutless man”.

Shot: Gonorhhea. Getting shot is what happens when one fails to wear a “bullet-proof vest”.

Sugar: Diabetes. We’re advised that some of the things which can cause diabetes include the consumption of foods that are rich in fats and sugars, smoking cigarettes and a sedentary lifestyle. In other words, pretty much anything you might actually enjoy doing can cause diabetes. And if that’s the case, as far as we’re concerned, ain’t nothing wrong with a likkle bit ah “sugar”!

Fassy foot: Impetigo. Bacterial skin infection characterised by sores on the legs. Please note, however, that if you are called a “Fassy” or a “Fassyhole” anywhere in Jamaica the person addressing you is not referring to any medical condition that person may think you have. (He is, in fact, calling you a Jackass and you should respond accordingly.)

Fibers: Fibroids. Uterine fibroids are non-cancerous tumors that originate in the smooth muscle layer and accompanying connective tissues of the uterus. They are usually not fatal but, because they can cause great discomfort, may have the side effect of making your wife even more miserable than she normally is.

Popdown: Chronic fatigue disorder. In a Jamaican context Popdown can be caused by a variety of factors. One cause is the extreme mental fatigue caused by your attempts to follow the latest twists and turns of the Manatt Phelps/Dudus/JLP/Prime Minister vs Party Leader saga. There’s also the financial fatigue from the multitude of recently introduced taxes, wage freezes and price hikes. Add to that the workplace fatigue caused by the constant fear of losing your job each time the company you work for downsizes and the additional exhaustion caused by doing your own work plus the work of 2 other people who were recently laid off.

Running belly: Diahorrea. The opposite of block up. Can be caused by many factors. For example, diahorrea can be caused by eating that two-day-old pan chicken you bought on the side of the road the other night or it can be caused by the sheer, heart-stopping terror which turned your bowels to water when a gunman put his gun to your head when you stopped to buy two-day-old pan chicken on the side of the road the other night.

Stoppage of water: Obstructive uropathy (usually due to an enlarged prostate). Stoppage of water can be murder for people who would otherwise normally make frequent trips to the bathroom e.g. habitual rum-drinkers (a class of person found in large numbers in Jamaica).

Trash: Thrush. Yeast Infection. Candidiasis.

Turn foot: Any of a variety of deformities to the legs. Want a description of hell? Be a teenager with a turn foot at any one of the many all-boys schools in Jamaica. The sheer number of ways teenage boys will find to amuse themselves at your expense will astound you.

ThingsJamaicansLove.com has no intention of doing all the work on this one. If you have a Jamaican name for a common illness/medical condition please e-mail it to us and we’ll add it to the list.

 

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written by Torsdag, May 03, 2012
Once on summer holiday I visited a friend who then resided in Montego Bay. her sister came on the verandah and announced, whilst holding her belly, "Lawd me billias!"
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written by William Benjamin, July 29, 2011
a 19 year old patient asked be if I had any medicine for liver spots. I thought to myself she is to young to have age spots so I told I should take a look. When I looked I found tinea versicolor a fungal infection characterized by light spots on a darker background whereas liver spots are dark spots on a lighter background. When I told here the what she described was not liver spots she became very angry stating I did not know what I was talking about. Only after showing her the pictures of both disorders on the internet did she calm down.
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written by Hope, August 18, 2010
moral of this story: KNOW YOUR CULTURE!!
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written by Susan, August 11, 2010
Yu figget 'fluxy complaint' and 'nerves'. When yu eat too much hard dough bread, yu don't get block up, yu get 'bind' - ie, 'it bind yu'. Block up cause from rum. Agree with comment above about gas, the single most important complaint any doctor in Ja has to deal with apart from sugar, pressure and cold. Then there are the treatments.....'pain killa', assorted teas, bush bath, bay rum, white rum, ........
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written by JAZZ, August 08, 2010
Worst yet, years ago a doctor friend of mine fresh out of Nigeria said while working at one of the clinics in Montego Bay one of his patients remarked "Doctor mi caan
deee di". Needless to say a translator was required.
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written by JAZZ, August 08, 2010
No no no no!!! the word for constipation is BUNG!!!!!LOL....remember that each term may vary depending on the parish from whence you came...
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written by Tanya G, July 12, 2010
What about gas!? Gas can find its way into your back, your head and of course is the cause of every bit of discomfort in the intestinal tract. One patient got very upset with me when I tried to disabuse her of the notion that gas in her knee was not the cause of her arthritic pain!


smilies/grin.gif
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written by Kimmy, June 11, 2010
"Block up" means contipated, "black up" means drunk.
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written by Little Joe, June 11, 2010
As one who was raised by my grandmother and who had the distinct exposure to life in the country, when someone said "Man, I block up, yuh see?" they typically meant they were under the influence of alcohol, i.e., drunk. I believe the colloquialism for constipation is "bind up" as in "I bind yuh see" or "I bind up fi true" pronounced more like byne as the "d" is not stressed. Weh di country people deh?
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written by grannybwoy, June 08, 2010
Block up or bind up? Which one really means constipation?

By the way I never saw the illness called Bad Feelings which is a way to express feeling nauseous.
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written by maxfieldpark, May 25, 2010
Communication is key. Once worked with an MD (expatriate from India), in a clinic in SAB. He asked the patient,"what was her 'problem'?" She was most outraged at the question, because as she said, she did not come there to discuss her 'problems', rather she was there to discuss her medical issues which were the aches and physical pains she was experiencing.

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written by Crystak, May 20, 2010
DWL! but so true...

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LOUD Dancehall music

Fat girls

The Death Penalty

Violent feuds between dancehall artists

Hardough bread

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Michael Jackson

Pretending to embrace the rastafarian culture

Not locking off the dance at 2am

Cussing America while keeping green card in a vault

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