A blog for all those who seek (and revel in) Ill-Literacy in its many popcultural forms.

May or may not include any of the following: self-indulgent pseudo-philosophical musing, Vicodin abuse, gross violation of the Hippocratic Oath, witty one-liners, mass corridor-speedwalking, supposedly inoperable brain tumors, Tegan and Sara, promiscuity, lupus.

Troi to the Rescue! OR How the ship’s counsellor cured Payson Keeler’s inoperable spinal fracture.

Marina Sirtis is popping up all over the place these days. Look! Here she is as a sickly Iranian mother on Greys Anatomy! Look, over there! Sirtis as a hot-shot doctor on ABC family favourite Make it or Break it. The latter, should make clear, is not set on a spaceship or in a hospital. Why do I watch it then? Because it is awesome. The dialogue is poor, the ethos is uncomfortably Christian-Right-Republican-conservative in tone and the girls don’t do their own stunts, despite adamant (badly punctuated, misspelt) assertions to the contrary made by youtubers with usernames that include hearts, crosses and the word ‘babe.’ However, the stunt doubles are actual elite gymnasts worth watching, and the hairstyles are increasingly inventive.

It centres on four Olympic hopefuls training at a gym in Boulder Colorado nicknamed ‘The Rock’ (geddit?). Like the other famous foursome’s Miranda Hobbes, she is the only remotely plausible character, and the only one whom you could be trapped in a lift with without one of you killing the other. The most dedicated of the ‘rock rebels’, Payson breaks her back trying out for the National Gymnastics squad and is told that, though in time the fracture will heal, she can’t ever return to competitive gymnastics.

Enter Dr. Anna Kleister. In her Deanna Troi-y reassuring but firm voice, she explains a new groundbreaking procedure that involves making a small incision in Payson’s back and injecting‘cement-like’ filler into her spine. If it works, she can return to the world of chalky hands and delayed puberty. It’s risky though. Payson could be paralysed or DIE.

This I had to check out. I doubted Make it or Break it has a medical advisor on set to make it all kosher, I doubted whether the programme’s target audience would even call into question the plausibility of such a procedure. After all, these are the same girls that think actors can perform the skills of world class athletes with a few weeks of training and a spunky can-do attitude.

But guess what! It’s real! Percutaneous vertebroplasty was first conceived in 1984 in France and involves ‘injection of a mixture of polymethylmethacrylate bone cement (PMMA) and a contrast agent, typically barium sulfate, into the vertebral bodies using fluoroscopic or occasionally computed tomography guidance, or rarely both’.

Mainly used to relieve pain in patients with osteoporosis, it is unlikely that vertebroplasty would be offered as a treatment option to a young elite gymnast keen to continue her career. Two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 found no benefit to vertebroplasty over a placebo procedure.

So…mixed reviews then. Vertebroplasty is real, but it wouldn’t have worked for our bendy young heroine. Shoulda called Dr. Callie Torres. She would have sorted Payson out in a jiffy. Accurately. On a special Make it or Break it/Grey’s Anatomy two-hour-long crossover special in which Osteo becomes the new Neuro. Yeah.


When (Fictional) Worlds Collide II

George Clooney, Dr. Moose. Same episode. I like old-skool Clooney.

When (fictional) Worlds Collide…

Grey’s Anatomy’s Chief Webber (James Pickens Jr.) in Roseanne.

Reading Dr. Tony Copperfield’s Sick Notes: True Stories from the Front Lines of Medicine. Tony* himself comes across as a bit of an ass, but I like that he refers to his patients as ‘punters’.

* Dr. Tony Copperfield is the ‘pseudonymous creation of two practicing GPs.’ AKA Tony the writer can say whatever he likes by putting in in the mouth of his creation. Like that American ventriloquist comedian presumably. LOLINAD indeed.

Also, got tickets to this event -


Carl Djerassi, co-inventor of the contraceptive pill. Wow.

Will hopefully lend credence to my position that having children is about as eco-friendly as running a fleet of 4x4s or wearing a pair of pants once before throwing them in the bin. Most potential parents would be better off purchasing a domesticated pig: eats your food scraps and provides manure for the garden. No nappies needed.

Though if you get the minature variety, they can roll off the sofa, and DIE, just like an infant.

"It’s ok, I’ve practiced on model bottoms!"


The BBC press release for Junior Doctors : Your Life in their Hands -


“Following five hard years of study, seven ordinary twenty-somethings are about to embark on one extraordinary career. Laying both their professional and private lives bare, the series sees how the junior doctors cope with juggling their new-found responsibilities and being a young adult.

The junior doctors will live together across three emotionally-charged months, while working in roles that take us to the heart of some of the hospitals’ busiest departments – A&E, gastro, paediatrics and plastic surgery.

Viewers can expect frustration, tears, laughter and elation as the reality of life for the young doctors starts to unfold in their journey from first day nerves to accomplished professional.”


Why they then needed to preface what transpired to be a perceptive and sensitive piece of programming with an intro that promises gratuitous shorts of the lairy A&E drunk tank is beyond me. Most of the people featured in the programme are wheezy little old ladies more inclined to slip you a Werther’s Original than grope your breasts before vomiting on your trainers.

Except, actually, it isn’t that hard to understand.

Sensationalise and sell, the motive seems to be, viewers will come for the vomit and stay for the insightful commentary (and narcissistic beard-cultivation). If we can present, however inaccurately, this programme solely as a voyeuristic trip through the repugnant orgy of Saturday night in Accident and Emergency, floor slippery with bodily fluids, then maybe people will tune in. Come on BBC, we are better than this. If Suzi can respond calmly and maturely to a toilet brush up the anus, so can we.


Or at least, give us the benefit of the doubt.

Hit me with your rhythm strip.

Hit me with your rhythm strip.

‘’…disease categories which mark out the division between the amoral causality of nature and the social world of moral actions have been important features of political discourse throughout human history, because they perfectly express the problem of the transgression of boundaries; they articulate the outside and the other ‘’(Boyne 1990).

Sociomedicalecofeministgeekgasm alert.
I’ll be saving this one for later.

‘’…disease categories which mark out the division between the amoral causality of nature and the social world of moral actions have been important features of political discourse throughout human history, because they perfectly express the problem of the transgression of boundaries; they articulate the outside and the other ‘’(Boyne 1990).

Sociomedicalecofeministgeekgasm alert.

I’ll be saving this one for later.

If you don’t know the answer, just remember- It’s never Lupus.

I harbour a life-long, blood thirsty interest in all things medical, it hasn’t abated since the days of slicing my friends bellies open at sleepovers with a spatula, pilfered from the cutlery drawer.

In order to satisfy my overwhelming physiciancal urges, I started my own medical practice in an abandoned warehouse, with only a (slightly scratched) DVD box set of House Season One, my mother’s beloved spatula and some pills I found down the back of my Grandparents sofa at my disposal. I’m resourceful like that.

When my patients question my unorthodox procedures (unicorn horn lumbar puncture anyone?) and ask to see my credentials, I wave my Honours degree in English Studies in their bewildered little faces, and run away laughing manically, pursued by lawyers.

More to follow soon, in the meantime, for your pleasure some health-based puns -



Text, photographs, quotes, links, conversations, audio and visual material preserved for future reference.


A handpicked medley of inspirations, musings, obsessions and things of general interest.