A.W.S.


by Rohin
30th September, 2007 at 11:37 pm    

I sincerely regret that I have not been able to write on PP as often as I used to, but I continue to lurk daily. With a few free minutes on a Sunday evening I thought I’d quickly post something one of the recent discussions on here made me think about. It’s rather light fare, but better to blog lite than not blog at all.

The acronym is a staple of medical life. Doctors utilise a carefully constructed dialect of impenetrable code to talk about their patients, but not to their patients. Nowhere is this more so than in Accident and Emergency, where all the extremes of society are encountered. Some of my favourites are:

PFO/PGT – pissed fell over/pissed got thumped
FUBAR - fucked up beyond all repair
TTR - tattoos to teeth ratio (e.g. 20 tattoos and 4 teeth = 5 days since patient last washed)
CTD/JIC – circling the drain/Jesus is coming
UBI - unexplained beer injury
TFTB - too fat to breathe
GROLIES - Guardian reader of low intelligence in ethnic skirt
T.R. BUNDY – totally rooted but unfortunately not dead yet

Because medicine, as I’m sure you can see, is not that interested in political correctness, it is with gusto that racial stereotypes are thrown around. Hence some new acronyms are popping up. You’ll be delighted to know that PP doesn’t mean an erudite and wonderful blog, it means ‘pissed, Polish’ and PIA no longer refers to an airline, but instructions to ‘please inform Allah’ when a Muslim patient is about to make a celestial transfer to the eternal care unit.

So why the post? AWS. I’m sure this term is still in its infancy, but when spelt out in full, every doctor seems to know what it means. Asian Woman Syndrome describes a common presentation to outpatient clinics, GPs and A&Es. The AWS patient is middle-aged and generally fairly healthy apart from dodgy joints, but complains of continual, horrific and unbearable pain/symptoms. It goes hand in hand with a more recognised acronym, VD, which is ‘veak and dizzy’, what many typically complain of.

I certainly don’t want to suggest only Asian women are hypochondriacs, far from it, but I would be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the histrionics and frank nonsense a great deal of Asian women seem to come out with. Instead of answering questions, they can be prone to wailing, moaning and panting from the sheer pain of their predicament. “Uffff….hey bhagawan! Ohho, issssh” as they turn their eyes heavenward and their daughter translates.

I can only guess what leads to this phenomenon. It may be without evidence, but I would hazard a guess that a lot of these women have tough lives. They’re at the age where their kids have now grown up and the one thing keeping them occupied for the last 20 years is gone. Now they’re left at home with a husband that might not be all they hoped and there’s nothing to distract them. A large proportion of middle-aged Asian women are on anti-depressants.

Doctors get frustrated with such patients not simply because they’re annoying, but because it’s hard to know what to do. If I’m honest, I feel sorry for many of these women who have come looking for help, but in the absence of obvious pathology I am sometimes at a loss as to what they actually want.

It is as though many just give up. I can’t help but think it’s something to do with children as when asked about family they infrequently say “oh my son’s just got married” or “my daughter’s gone to university”.

Perhaps there’s not a lot of point to this post, other than to ask if anyone else has noted this, but I don’t want you thinking I’m just being racist and singling out one group…

…I have nasty things to say about almost everyone.


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8 Comments below   |  

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  1. Sunny — on 30th September, 2007 at 11:48 pm  

    Maybe they come to your because their husband surely does not want to listen to them?

  2. Rohin — on 30th September, 2007 at 11:59 pm  

    Indeed Sunny, good point. The problem is neither do I.

    (joking, joking)

  3. A councillor writes — on 1st October, 2007 at 9:57 am  

    A friend of mine from school went to be a GP in Norfolk, she found case notes liberally sprinkled with NFN which stands for Normal For Norfolk.

  4. Kismet Hardy — on 1st October, 2007 at 11:51 am  

    As someone that dated and impregnated blondes (I grew up in Bangladesh, I find them exotic), it’s strange now that I go out with a Pakistani lass to be faced with this AWS you speak of. For one, they’re completely crazy so should be seeing a different kind of doctor to you, I warrant

  5. Roger — on 1st October, 2007 at 11:58 am  

    You’d find something similar among white working class women of the same age, I think, Rohin. It’s a result of recognising, or not wanting to recognise, that what’s been their purpose in life- bringing up their children- is done with. They no longer have anything to live for. At a guess, it’s probably aggravated among Asian women because they were often brought up in an extended family and could expect to receive support all through their lives and to have a role which they don’t now. See if there’s some kind of voluntary work or adult education courses they could go to- even just mutual support groups might be useful if there are a many of them.

  6. El Cid — on 1st October, 2007 at 12:48 pm  

    Very funny Rohin.
    Good call Roger.

  7. Zak — on 1st October, 2007 at 1:37 pm  

    funny stuff, but you know aan anaesthetist friend of mine was telling me off how south asians seem to require higher doses of painkillers for a response.

  8. sonia — on 1st October, 2007 at 2:13 pm  

    interesting post Rohin. I think that most likely these women are looking for sympathy. they’ve been tough all their lives, been taught to put others first – family, husband, children. and now – they want something for themselves. some pampering.

    methinks.

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