River Wissey Lovell Fuller

What Does The Doctor Think - November

December 2014

Wellness: I spend a lot of time shouting “from” at the TV when people who should know better say “different to” and so on. The word “wellness” has been irritating me for 20 years or more. Until the early 1980's none of us had ever heard the word. We have many dictionaries in our house, some dating back to the 1800's; none of these contains that word. Our most recent dictionary (Collins 1990) contains 84 words and phrases starting with “well ', ranging from 'well-accustomed' to 'well-written' but it jumps from 'well-motivated' to 'well-noted' and, in another section, from 'well-meaning' to 'well-nigh' (which means nearly or almost, not near) There is no 'wellness'. Suddenly, in the early eighties, BUPA started offering Wellness checks, factories offered their workers “employee wellness programmes”, one could relax in a “wellness spa”and so on. I had  forgotten to be irritated about the word for a time until a massive envelope arrived. It was from “Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation”. That same morning, the newspaper told me that Euromonitor International had announced that “Global Health and Wellness sales were to reach 774 billion US dollars in 2014. Apparently, these sales include milk formula, gluten-free products, health and energy drinks, healthy packaged food, etc. This amount does not include the service industry (wellness clinics, spas, etc.)             So, one way or another, Wellness has become a big deal!

I had always assumed that it was a made up word, changing an adjective into a noun by adding “ness”, as in tiredness, happiness, sloppiness, and so on. Penny, down Methwold Hythe, assured me that it was a proper word. However, in all the grammar tomes I have consulted, there is no conversion of well to wellness. Delving back, it appears that the word 'wellness' was in common use in the UK in the 1600s, meaning the opposite of 'illness', ie normal good health. The word re-emerged in the 1950s in America, meaning good health enhanced by exercise/good food/massage/complimentary therapies, etc. “High level wellness” was defined as “an integrated method of functioning which is orientated towards maximising the potential of which the individual is capable”. All remained quiet for 30 years until the word exploded into life in the 1980s. However, in 1988, 68% of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary disapproved of the word and a critical note was included in the 1992 edition (this note was removed in the 2000 edition) so I was not alone in my dislike of the word.

In the 1990's the carping faded away, except in my house, and the term has gained a foothold in everyday use.So, a word that once sounded strange and unnecessary has become tacitly accepted as part of our lexicon of health. The 2014 online dictionary defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal. So, it's in the dictionary and Penny was right,  but that doesn't mean I have to be happy about it!!

Management rarely tells jokes as she is constitutionally incapable of remembering the punch line and doesn't seem to understand half the jokes I tell her. However, much to my surprise, she came home the other day and relayed the following joke told to her by Sir Terry Wogan. A man came home, looking really agitated ,and said to his wife “I have been thinking about this a lot. I need to be honest with you and tell you that I have been seeing a psychiatrist”. His wife was horrified but her conscience became troubled and she replied, “Well, if we are to be honest with each other, I have to tell you that I too have been seeing a psychiatrist – Oh, and two plumbers, the milkman and the local schoolmaster”.     Good one, isn't it?

A little boy is in the bath. Fiddling between his legs, he asks “Mummy, is this my brain?”. Quick as a flash, Mummy replied “Not yet, darling”.

A young dentist takes a girl home to his flat after a party. She said “You must be a dentist – you keep washing you hands”. One thing led to another and, later on, she said “You must be a really good dentist – I didn't feel a thing!”

In my job, I see a lot of elderly people and, now, I have joined them (we had our hearing tests last week and I was worse than Head Office). Chatting with one, he said “I have got really old – two by-pass surgeries, new hips and knees, half blind, almost completely deaf, bouts of dementia, taking 40 pills a day which make me dizzy and exhausted, can't feel my hands and feet any more, can't remember whether I am 85 or 92. I have lost all my friends, so there is no peer pressure, but thank God I still have my driving licence!”

My memory is not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory is not as sharp as it used to be.

How to prevent sagging – just eat until the wrinkles fill out.

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, the good fortune to run into the ones I do and the eyesight to tell the difference.

The old man confessed to his friend that he was having an affair. “Who is doing the catering?” replied the friend – That is old age for you!

Best wishes to you all      Ian Nisbet

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