Hospital slang

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Aug 16 04:16:45 UTC 2005

At 11:38 PM -0400 8/15/05, Douglas G. Wilson wrote [in response to my
>>Since my cancer diagnosis in June 2002, I have had CT scans every few
>>months, each of which was preceded by three tall cupfuls (or were
>>they cupsful?) of the barium drink, and my last couple of PET scans
>>were as well.  The standard term the staff use is "barium milkshake"
>>(no thanks, make mine vanilla).
>I've heard this "milkshake". However it's not in universal use (a local CT
>technologist denied being familiar with it: I asked specifically). The CT
>barium drink is too thin to be called a milkshake, isn't it?

Not the one I get.  It's very much the texture/thickness of a
milkshake (as I recall milkshakes being; granted, they haven't been
among my menu selections for a while), and as mentioned the flavor
isn't unpalatable, though vanilla, chocolate and strawberry should
not feel threatened by the barium option.

Google has 454 hits for "barium milkshake", admittedly not a huge
number.  Maybe it's a regional variant?  The first few mention its
"chalky texture", but the text appears to be boilerplate.  I haven't
eaten (or drunk) chalk for even longer than milkshakes, but the shake
is definitely less vile than that description suggests.

>>In the CT scans, I'm always hooked up to an IV (either through
>>my chest port or the standard access via a vein in my arm) through
>>which some dilution of iodine is administered.  That yields a not
>>really unpleasant but hard to contextualize taste of potatoes and a
>>warm feeling in the throat.  (I'm not a fan of anisette, pastis,
>>Ricard, Pernod, or other licoricey drinks, but I never associate
>>either the iodine IV or the barium milkshake with that flavor.)
>I don't know why an IV infusion should result in any taste sensation at
>all, although I know it often does.
>The thing which tastes (sort of) licoricey to me is the *orally*
>administered iodine contrast (Gastrografin; there are others which I
>haven't tried).

OK, that sounds plausible.  I've never tried the oral version.  Maybe
they could dissolve it in the barium suspension and try for a
licorice milkshake.  Yum!



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