Posts Tagged ‘Disorders’

Dear Santa:

Thank you so much for being so generous with our household yesterday. We’ve tried to stay off the Naughty list, but you know it’s been difficult.

Though we liked all of our gifts, I think I appreciated the coyote skull the most. Some girls might want a sable slipped under the tree, but you know this one prefers other dead animal parts.

There were a couple of things you skipped over, however, so I’d like to be proactive on my list for next year.

Beth’s Christmas List 2019:

1. Patience. I have a 14-year-old son who has worn mine out. Just bring me a little to spare for those super moody days (his, not mine).

2. Abs. I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, but these are still nowhere to be found. Don’t tell me I can find them at the gym. You’re Santa, and you’re magical.

3. A winning lottery ticket. I’m a good person; I promise I would do plenty of good things with the money.

4. A publishing contract. I’ve got two books in the works. At least send me an agent, please.

5. One hour with Jason Momoa. A better iPhone battery life. Like I said, you’re magical. Make it so, won’t you?

Thanks in advance. I’ll do my part by remaining on the Nice side.

Believing in you,


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Dear People Who Don’t Understand My Love of Bad Taxidermy:

First, you don’t have to understand. You don’t live with me. (Unless you are Eddie, who does have to live with me and spends most of his time rolling his eyes and sighing.)

Second, what’s there to understand? I think it’s funny. Maybe you don’t. Fine. I don’t judge your love of period dramas and pumpkin spice brisket. (That’s a thing, right?)

Third, if you must know, I can trace it back to early 2014. Eddie and I were chaperones for one of the boys’ field trips, and we were waiting for the school bus to arrive. BuzzFeed put out a listicle of top 10 examples of bad taxidermy. Eddie and I laughed ourselves to tears recreating the poor creatures that made the list. Like this:

It still makes me laugh.

And so I started posting other examples of bad taxidermy on people’s Facebook pages as birthday greetings. Totally normal behavior. Right? Right?!

Then I got my first piece of bad taxidermy: a squirrel tail in the shape of a question mark.

It was a thank-you gift from a graduate student after she successfully defended her thesis. I was her chair. She gave it to me and said, “I saw this and thought of you because you like bad taxidermy and wrote question marks all over drafts of my thesis.”


The tail led to a deer head from the 1950s, then a deer tail plaque with a thermometer (a furmometer!), then a blowfish ornament, then Hando.

Now, people see this and think of me:

And that’s fine by me. (I immediately thought, “Christmas gift!”)

You still don’t get it?

Well, I don’t know what to tell you. Many people do get it, and get me. Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) would.

Maybe you can just scroll on past. Or look away. It really only matters that I think it’s hilarious. That’s my thing. You find yours. I support you.

Yours in foam forms and glass eyes,

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Disorderly conduct

Warning: This post contains graphic images of medical conditions.

Dear Donald G. McNeil Jr.:

Thank you for speaking to students in my class yesterday, and for speaking to a larger group of students later. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your tales about covering “germs and worms.”

I too have a fascination with disease. Though I do not write about it for The New York Times, I do write. Readers of this blog are forced to go with me occasionally down the rabbit hole of information about horrible things.

I learned about two new disorders this week: Cancrum Oris and Buruli Ulcer.

Cancrum Oris is straight out of a horror movie. Otherwise known as “Noma,” Cancrum Oris is a type of gangrene that only affects the face, and only appears in children. It is caused by two different bacteria and usually shows up after another serious disease such as measles or scarlet fever.

Look away now if you don’t want to see.

Cancrum Oris

Antibiotics and improved nutrition can help this disorder from getting worse. And then there’s plastic surgery, which is sadly out of the realm of the possible for many of these poor children. (There is a reason they are malnourished.)

Buruli Ulcer is a tropical disease caused by a bacteria in the leprosy and tuberculosis family. It starts innocently with a simple nodule. It affects skin and can get into the bone. Fun!

Warning: All kinds of terrible up ahead!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe good news is that a vaccine is in development.

But you, as the Germ Guru, must know all this already.

I just wanted you to know that I share your fascination.

Thanks again for visiting and I hope to see you again soon.

Yours in pestilence,

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Warning: This post contains graphic images of medical conditions.

Dear Larry Page, Eric Schmidt and Sergey Brin and all Google employees who have anything to do with Google Images:

Thank you for creating this service. Without you, I would not have such easy access to the shocking, disturbing images I crave to fuel my ability to procrastinate. (It’s what I do when I am stalling on a project.)

Today, I have selected skin disorders as the topic of interest. I started with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, which is a particularly nasty skin disorder resulting from an allergic reaction or infection. The person who introduced me to this disorder aptly described it as “Cronenberg-levels of horrifying.” Thanks to Google Images, I was able to find the following example. (Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

As another form of the disease is called Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (Lyell’s Syndrome), I naturally moved on to Necrotizing Fasciitis. Otherwise known as the “flesh-eating disease,” it is all kinds of horrible. You had plenty of images to prove that point, including this one:

And that led to Fournier’s gangrene, which is also quite dreadful. Again, Google Images did not disappoint. (But there will be no sample images posted here. Even I have limits, and the results of “penile debridement” cross the line.)

I got back on the non-genital track with a search for just “gangrene.” Once again, you had plenty to share. I wonder about the following photo, though. The person clearly has a big problem, but the photo does not look like it was taken in a hospital. It’s shot like some kind of nail treatment “before” picture.

I worry about all the people in these pictures. Are they OK? Did they get reconstructive surgery? Are they alive at least? Unfortunately, even when I follow the photo to the original link, there’s rarely any “where are they now?” follow-up.

Can’t you make that happen? Isn’t Google the Information Sharing Overlord?

Anyway, thanks for providing this service. I managed to waste about an hour of my life. (And yes, I did finish the project I was putting off.)

Feeling lucky,

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