Eponym’s Syndrome

clinician writing medical report
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Eponym’s Syndrome

When news is bad, then no-one thanks the messenger –
But rest assures, there follows much renown.
To make ones names can prove a fickle blessing:
Why, just ask Dr Parkinson or Dr Down.
Perhaps Dr Tourette has got off lightly,
In only causing ridicule and jokes,
Whereas for Dr Alzheimer or Dr Weil
There’s no-one ever pleased to hear those folks.

As if they’re gothic surgeons in a castle or a lair,
Meddling in such knowledge as should best remain unknown:
With Dr Hodgkin’s evil laugh and Dr Creutzfeldt’s crazy hair,
All nations tremble at the wrath of Drs Asperger and Crohn.

It’s sure no way to treat such heroes,
To have their good name turned to bad
As patients spit their syllables,
And lose whatever little hope they had.
These doctors, whose labours we ought to hail,
Have found themselves as harbingers of doom.
Do nurses fear to yet invoke these names
That always seem to summon up the tomb ?

As if they’re puffed-up prettyboys all posing in their lab,
All engineering new diseases, socket-wrenching genes apart,
Chasing fame at any price, copywriting ev’ry scab –
Until we gawp at Dr Bell’s and Dr Turner’s works of art.

When news is bad, there’s no-one thanks the messenger –
But better, surely, that we know than not ?
And largely thanks to these unwitting fathers,
These conditions shan’t soon be forgot.
And yet, for each new syndrome that they spawn,
Their children must carry their touch –
There’s few whose work can reach so many lives,
And few whose name is cursed so much.

As if they’re ancient tragic heroes, fighting with the gods,
To bite the apple, steal the fire, always seek the new –
Can we catch their genius, to bear their brand against the odds ?
Though maybe less of Dr Frankenstein, and more of Dr Who.

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