American Idiopath

I recently developed a condition where I have ear pain and partial facial paralysis. Ear aches I can deal with, but when my face quits working, I go to the doc. So, that’s what happened. The ENT said that it resembled Bells palsy and the cause was idiopathic.

I can just imagine an attending physician and a resident in medical school taking future idiopathic specialists on their rounds. The doc walks in and greets a patient with an ear ache and a face that doesn’t work. “Yessir” he says with resignation, “another case of idiopathic syndrome. We just don’t know what the hell happened.” The resident turns to the med students and says gravely, “Look at this patient closely. Try not to confuse the distant stare and slack jaw with idiopathic disease. Even though this patient is from Iowa, we are convinced that there is an idiopathic condition overprinted on his presentation.”

The attending physician stands there thoughtfully for a moment, raises a bristled eyebrow and glances at his watch. “Let’s go people. The idiopathology wing is full of patients with mysterious conditions.” With that they shuffle off down the hall.


A round of acyclovir and prednisone cleared up the apparent Bells palsy. I am symmetric again and can pucker up to whistle a tune.

About gaussling

Gaussling is a senior scientist in the chemical business. He occasionally breaks glassware and has been known to generate new forms of hazmats. Gaussling also digs aerospace, geology, and community theatre. View all posts by gaussling

5 responses to “American Idiopath

  • Philip Rakita

    Whatever else there may be wrong with you, your wit has not suffered a bit. Keep it up, good friend.

  • gaussling

    Thanks Phil. Sometimes all you can do is laugh.

    • Philip Rakita

      “Maturity is a bitter disappointment for which noremedy exists, unless laughter can be said to remedy anything.” -from chapter 88 of “Cat’s Cradle” (1963), a novel by Kurt Vonnegut

      Hang in there, dear friend.


  • Mike Reimer

    Was this the side on which to radiotherapy was conducted after the tumor was removed? Could the facial nerve have been in the radiation path? They say this is only temporary. Hope this heals quickly,

    • gaussling

      Hi Mike,
      Yeah, it is on the same side as the bad lymph node and the postulated locus of the cancer. The ENT surgeon says this is usually viral in nature and I can look forward to regaining most of my function. I’ll be able to sneer symmetrically again.

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