10 June 2010

The Beautiful Game

A guest post by Dr. Matlatzinca

I am acutely afflicted by World Cup Fever (WCF). Though lacking official recognition in the current ICD-9 or proposed set of ICD-10 diagnostic manuals, I can offer my expert opinion as to the validity of this entity. Some might compare it to Superbowl Mania, March Madness, or even humorously to Fall Classic Ennui Wasting Syndrome. The sad truth about WCF, however, is that it is a much more serious diagnosis requiring understanding from the medical community and support from society in general. Once the importance of this condition is recognized, I'm sure that congressional hearings will lead to substantive legislation to protect the population from this serious episodic epidemic.

Consider the associated comorbidities, not to mention the acute rise in violence that can be precipitated by, say, a semifinal or final win. In Italy experience has shown a dramatic rise in the number of suicides, acute MIs, strokes, and major depressive episodes. It is expected that Spain and Germany, two of the EU's leading economic regions and countries where WCF is endemic, will see a 15-20% drop in GDP due to the limbic-system associated paralysis which is a common feature of WCF. Even England (not the entire UK) is taking preparatory action to prevent impulsive deployment of strategic nuclear weapons against the US in the event that Nuclear Sub commanders become afflicted with the impulsive irrational behavior also common to WCF.

In the United States WCF has been a low prevalence condition, though its incidence is most definitely on the rise. The success of the MLS (with expansion, even!) is one of the "leading edge" warning signs that epidemiologists tout as a harbinger of the extension of the WCF pandemic to the USA. I for one will be trying to cover up my symptoms as much as possible. The sad lack of recognition of this condition in the US leads those of us afflicted with WCF to seek ways to justify and compensate for what is seen as irrational and aberrant, even irksome or annoying behaviors. I would encourage others suffering from WCF to raise visibility for our condition and enact change through increased awareness. Hopefully this will avoid embarrassing situations.

Consider, for example, my experience during the 1998 World Cup (held in France). I was an intern working on the Heme/Onc ward. The typical patient on this ward is much sicker than average, and it is not uncommon for codes or other alarming events to occur throughout the day. On this day, however, all the patients appeared to be relatively stable. We had a couple of transplant patients that were somewhat tentative, but nothing a good antifungal + triple antibiotic therapy couldn't take care of. My attending at the time was the primary transplant attending, and shared my partial Mexican heritage. Rounds had been uneventful, if somewhat repetitious as the other various team members had to contend with our WCF-induced fragmented attention span and impaired short term memory. Finally we finished the work, however, and during the lunch hour we had a brief period of time during which we could catch up on the game of the day by sneaking into one of the patient rooms and turning on the TV. It happened to be a Round of 16 game between Mexico and Germany. The first half had been scoreless, but a mere 2" into the second half, Mexico scored a goal. My attending and I watched the action live, and as Luis Hernández "El Matador" put the ball in the back of the net we both SCREAMED AND WHOOPED. The entire complement of nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and other interns/residents stormed the room hot on the heels of the Heme/Onc fellow, in an extremely high-level of alertness and looking around for the patient in need of resuscitation. Once my attending and I became coherent once again (maybe 10-15 minutes) we were able to explain that there was not, in fact, a patient suffering acute overwhelming blood loss, septicemia, or brain herniation. Most of the first responders returned to their work with shakes of their head, puzzled looks and obvious lack of empathy. Except for the Charge Nurse. She remained behind to chew us out for our flamboyant display in the middle of a busy ward full of sick patients. We agreed to keep it down if only she would not shut off the game.

Well, we managed to keep it down for a whole 30 minutes, until Klinsmann scored the tying goal. The Charge Nurse came back to chew us out again and turn off the TV, though we argued successfully with the help of other witnesses that the noise she heard was actually coming from the throats of 80 million Mexicans who all screamed in horror at watching our squad's demise.

Mexico play in the opener against South Africa (the host nation) tomorrow. If your Charge Nurse comes to ask what all the commotion is about, feel free to blame it on Dr. Matlatzinca as long as you take the time to explain the epidemic of World Cup Fever that is about to engulf her unit for the next month.

1 comment:

Doc in Training said...

I was just telling my friend the other day that since there is no vaccine available for WCF; the best way to deal with it is via conservative management.

Treatment should include hot wings, beer and a big screen TV.

(Go England !!)