Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lithe of the Thung

"Mah thung huths."

Choosing to break the studious quiet surrounding our collective couch + textbook lounging this evening, I decide I just can't take it any more. I must be quite a sight to the startled Dr. D, with my tongue extended to its fullest length, looking down at it accusingly (while simultaneously cross-eyed).

"I'm sorry?"

I'm not really able to tell whether his response is out of empathy or misunderstanding, so I trudge on with my chief complaint.

"Ih huths. Iss gah uh bump." Thinking it might help illustrate my point, I dance the tip of my tongue around a bit and then point to the small swollen bump on the end. "Wha iss ih?"

Let's pause a moment to remember that Dr. D has only just started his second rotation in his third year of med school, and ob-gyn probably hasn't taught him a whole lot about tongue maladies at this point. And then let's remember that non-medical types tend to ignore the reality that future doctors have to actually go to many years of school before they are experts, and therefore we expect med students to know everything. Thus, the wife confronting her med student husband with a irritated, wagging tongue and growing ever-expectant of an explanation.

"Oooh... I don't know. But I hate those things."

Slightly disappointed, but appreciative of the honesty (since he very easily could have said "Oh no! Tonguitis!" and I would have freaked), I put my tongue back in my mouth and try to focus on not running the irritated bump along the back of my teeth as I have been for the past hour. Resolved to get to the bottom of this, and fresh out of my Dr. D lifeline, I turn to the next best thing: Google.

This is one of those searches that you kind of have to agonize over the proper phrasing before hitting the search button, lest you find yourself facing horrific pictures of bumpy, diseased tongues.

I decided on "what is it called when a bump on your tongue gets swollen?" and managed to avoid seeing any STD-laden mouths, thank you very much.

So, friends, I present you with what I learned today:

When one of those little bumps on your tongue (called fungiform papillae--they are NOT "taste buds") gets swollen and irritated, it's called "Transient Lingual Papillitis." But of course it's abbreviated to TLP because who in their right mind has the time to say anything in its entirety any more?

TLP is usually caused by some sort of accidental trauma to the area, like biting, scraping, or rubbing---or in my case, probably when I stabbed my tongue with a crispy samosa at lunch today---and they last a day or two. (In my best "fast disclaimer at the end of a drug commercial" voice: Ifsymptomspersistlongerthanoneweekpleaseconsultyourdoctor.) Also, TLP tends to get further irritated when people end up mindlessly messing around with the bump in their mouths, which I just realized I'm doing right now. Dangit.

And get this: apparently TLP is more commonly known as "lie bumps." I've never heard of this before, have you? I guess it's a wives' tale that a person gets one of these bumps after they've been telling lies. Subsequently, I'm kind of annoyed by the phrase "wives' tale," which seems to imply that wives are frequently giving misguided and false information--how am I only just now thinking about this? Now my tongue is irritated and I'm annoyed by patriarchy.

What a night.


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