OK, this post is just for fun.
Last year I mocked the new catalog of diagnosis codes, the ICD 10. Every medical bill must include a diagnostic code, and I thought the ICD 10, which increased the number of available codes from 13,000 to 70,000, was really over-the-top ridiculous.
New diagnoses included such notables as “injured when knitting,” “sucked into a jet engine” and “problems with the in-laws.”
But my niece, who just graduated from medical school and is now a first-year resident, toured one of the first hospitals built in Washington state and shared with me a list of admitting diagnoses from the late 1800s.
The list included some pretty typical ailments that would have brought a person to the hospital back then, such as gun shot wounds, dog bites, snake bites, carbuncles, and diphtheria (there’s a vaccine for that now!)
Other diagnoses made me think the ICD 10 isn’t so crazy, after all!
Our favorites, which made us laugh hysterically, are:
- Snuff eating
- Woman trouble (we weren’t sure if this meant a woman with physical complaints or a man with romantic problems)
- Imaginary female trouble
- Uterine derangement (not imaginary, I suppose)
- Religious excitement
- Political excitement
- Mental excitement (excitement of any kind was apparently frowned upon, back then)
- Bad company
- Bad habits
- Bad whiskey (these kind of go together, don’t they?)
- Immoral life
- Disappointed love
- Gathering in the head
- Time of life (which time, exactly?)
- Vicious vices in early life
- Remorse (for all those early vices, perhaps?)
- Novel reading (maybe hit by a wagon while reading?)
- Brain fever
- Cerebral softening
- Feebleness of intellect
- Overtaxing of mental powers (which would certainly be easy to do if you had a soft brain or a feeble mind)
- Self abuse
- Suppressed masturbation (damned if you do, damned if you don’t)
- Parents were cousins (my favorite)
So in hindsight I’m forced to admit that history repeats itself. The writers of the new ICD 10 codes have simply updated and standardized century-old afflictions, aka the human condition.
I don’t think I’ll be able to poke fun at it anymore.