Hospital slang

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Aug 16 11:34:17 UTC 2005

Back when I was a teenager I had to drink a barium "shake" for some reason. (They didn't call it that, but ISTR the word "milkshake" being mentioned in connection with it, probably as a simile.)  Then I had to drink another one about five years ago

Now let me tell you young 'uns, barium milkshakes have come a long way !  Back in the '60s, it tasted like used deuterium oxide pumped fresh from your local reactor, with a kind of tinny finish.  And that was the "chocolate" kind !  Also, it was so thick you could stick an iron bar in it and it would stay upright - even when you turned the family-size cup upside down !

Ask anybody who had one.

The last of them I tried actually approached the minimally palatable.  And I only gained ten pounds from drinking it, instead of the fifty in 1965.


Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: Re: Hospital slang

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!



Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

More information about the Ads-l mailing list