Husbands & wives – Communication patterns, anesthesiology and double standards


It is a bit counterintuitive to start a post on marital communications by writing about preventing perioperative hypothermia but that is where my observations begin. My employer organized a webinar – the live event was held at KU Leuven but we had a broadcast in the HQ tonight. The webinar consisted of a series of lectures given by the superstars of the relatively niche area of patient warming (something that matters mostly to anesthesiologists and anesthesiology-related O.R. personnel) – Dr. Andrea Kurz of the Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Elke van Gerven of University of Leuven – and Dr. Marc Van De Velde, also of U of Leuven as part of the Q&A session.

Before the lectures began, a colleague sat down next to me and started talking. Soon a big bowl of candy was passed around, and the colleague took several pieces, announcing, “My wife does not let me eat candy.”

Suddenly it struck me that almost every married man I know will make these kinds of statements: “My wife won’t let me do/see/eat…”. No one really questions this; they may laugh at it, may make an offhand remark about the controlling nature of the wife. Yet if the reverse were true, and a wife were stating that her husband will not let her do whatever it is she wants to  (certainly if she were to phrase it just that way – as if she were being forbidden), it would be met with exclamations of spousal abuse, subjugation, etc. etc. Kind of a double standard. Not always – there is no such thing as always.

The webinar, by the way, was quite interesting. As a non-clinician without a life sciences background who often has to write about all of these medical issues, I really enjoy informative sessions like this. I get excited in almost an outsized way about learning things like this and filling my head with ideas about maintaining normothermia and strategies for preventing inadvertent hypothermia even if it will never have practical applications in my life.

Be careful where you stick it – Words change meaning


Watching television news and pseudo-news à la The Daily Show, I hear a lot of misplaced modifiers. I also see them in print:

  • the former lesbian tennis star
  • the former French president
  • seeking a junior Chinese copywriter

These bother me because they change the intended meaning. I am fairly sure the former tennis star is still a lesbian; the former president is still French and the junior copywriter sought is still capable of using Chinese (what would a “junior Chinese” be, exactly?).

I’m fussy, but clarity is meaningful.