Iowa Specialty Hospital

Making the Rounds

October 26, 2017

Halloween Treats (medical trivia)

Halloween is kind of a strange and weird tradition the we participate in.  If we don’t take ourselves too seriously, most of us can really enjoy it.  Adults and children alike. I was thinking about the children’s playground song “Ring Around the Rosie” the other day.  It’s a song that many in my generation mindlessly sang on the playgrounds of our youth.  The song is actually about what it was like to be around during the time of the bubonic plague. The “ashes” were due to cremated bodies of all the victims and “pockets full of posies” was to mask the smell of death!*

We’ve been to a few weddings lately.  The other day Shelly asked me “what is a cotton-eyed Joe?” Well, urban legend says it’s process of testing for an STD.  Listen to the lyrics; “woulda married sooner if it weren’t for the cotton-eyed Joe!”*

Drug names have fun origins as well.  For example, the hormone replacement drug Premarin.  It was mass produced from pregnant mare’s urine thus pre-mar-in! The drug Toradol; Tora,Tora,Tora means rapid attack. Dolor is Spanish for pain.  Thus, the name literally means “rapid attack on pain”.

Enjoy the rest of your fall (we are in Iowa so it will likely snow before this goes to print) especially enjoy your Halloween weekend. Have fun and be safe. Everything in moderation including moderation! 

Life is short. Be a rockstar. Hand out the Full-sized candy bars!

*Below are Snopes explainations, but I think my “urban legend” versions are more interesting.

 “Ring Around the Rosie” is simply a nursery rhyme of indefinite origin and no specific meaning, and someone, long after the fact, concocted an inventive “explanation” for its creation.  Although folklorists have been collecting and setting down in print bits of oral tradition such as nursery rhymes and fairy tales for hundreds of years, the earliest print appearance of “Ring Around the Rosie” did not occur until 1881. For the “plague” explanation of “Ring Around the Rosie” to be true, we have to believe that children were reciting this nursery rhyme continuously for over five centuries, yet not one person in that five hundred year span found it popular enough to merit writing it down. Additionally “Ring Around the Rosie” has many different variant forms which omit some of the “plague” references or clearly have nothing whatsoever to do with death or disease. 
The origins of this song, “Cotton-Eyed Joe” are unclear, although it pre-dates the 1861–1865 American Civil War.[1] American folklorist Dorothy Scarborough (1878–1935) noted in her 1925 book On the Trail of Negro Folk-songs, that several people remember hearing the song before the war.
One of the biggest mysteries of the song is what is meant by "cotton-eyed." As per the Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, the term describes "prominent whites of the eyes." Others believe old Joe was wasted on moonshine, blind from drinking wood alcohol, or suffering from a medical condition like trachoma, cataracts, glaucoma, or even syphilis. (Urban legend holds that "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is really about STDs in general, though there’s little evidence to support this theory.)

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