word of the day - palpate, distal


palpate – To examine or explore by touching (an organ or area of the body), usually as a diagnostic aid.

distal - Anatomically located far from a point of reference, such as an origin or a point of attachment.

Use palpate and distal in a sentence:

Let me tell you about the time my family spent Christmas in Hawaii. We were at the weekend house in Connecticut, gathered around the tree, the adults drinking hot toddies while the children hung the ornaments, as is our tradition, when I noticed a dull coppery hue among the needles at the crown of the tree. I donned my reading glasses and leaned in for a closer look. There were a number of dying branches. I plucked one off and broke it in two, which revealed dark streaks of discoloration. This had me a bit worried, so I called over my neighbor, a respected physician who happened to dabble in botany and possessed an encyclopedic knowledge about the trees of our region. I explained my concern, that the tree exhibited many of the same symptoms as Dutch Elm disease. Though the tree was a fir, rather than an elm, I speculated that it could be suffering from a similar type of affliction. My neighbor put on a surgeon mask and a pair of latex gloves, leaned into the tree, gently palpating one branch after another, then stepped away from the tree, removing the mask and gloves before rendering his diagnosis. “Dutch Elm disease is a fungal infection,” he said. “What this tree is suffering from is not fungal. You see the distal atrophy of the branches? The dryness of the needles? The symmetrically distributed macules? The rather coppery hue at the crown of the tree?” I nodded that I had noticed these things. “These,” he said, “are symptoms of a bacterial infection, and not just any bacterial infection.” “Good God, get to it,” I said. “What is this tree’s affliction?” He regarded me rather ponderously over his pipe. “I’m afraid, leprosy.” After that, the doctor made some phone calls, and within an hour the entire house was sealed in a quarantine-tent and my family was whisked away on a National Health Services jet to the leper colony on Molokai, where we spent one of the warmest, most memorable Christmases in many years.


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