Another disease bites the dust but when will scientists find a cure for being 'a wee bit hingy'? – Susan Morrison

Healthwise, guinea worm disease wasn’t one of the things I worried about, and now, it seems, I never shall.
A doctor assesses a somewhat peely-wally child (Picture: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)A doctor assesses a somewhat peely-wally child (Picture: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)
A doctor assesses a somewhat peely-wally child (Picture: Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)

It's been eliminated. Excellent. It was caused by a parasite. You drank infected water with eggs in it. They nested in your intestines, then burrowed their way out of you.

Some might think I’m basically stealing the plot from Alien, but the World Health Organisation assured me it’s a real worm, with the Sunday name of Dracunculus medinensis, which is just a tad too close to the name Dracula for my liking.

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The WHO doctors say that the adult female can carry about three million embryos. Don’t ever let one of these gals near Boris Johnson. He seems to have a fertilising effect on females. That’s a horror film waiting to happen.

I quote, “the parasite migrates through the victim's subcutaneous tissues causing severe pain especially when it occurs in the joints. The worm eventually emerges, causing an intensely painful oedema, a blister and an ulcer accompanied by fever, nausea and vomiting.” Not good, and I for one am glad that the nematode, Dracunculus medinensis, has been vanquished.

It’s only the second human disease eradicated from the planet. The first one was smallpox. And yet I feel that other diseases have slipped away and we never noticed.

Whatever happened to the old Scottish ailment of being “jist a wee bit hingy”? A disease of childhood, it was characterised by a mild temperature, flushed cheeks and, well, being a bit hingy. The cures were a cuddle in granny’s/mum’s arms, a spoonful of Calpol and endless re-runs of Thomas the Tank Engine. A good night's sleep and toddler levels of energy were usually restored.

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Does anyone now suffer from the “Dry Boak”? That moment when all had been hurled up from an upset stomach. Heave away, lads, and all that comes out is the lining. Can also be an involuntary action when witnessing something particularly off-putting. Imagine watching Jacob Reece-Mogg in a passionate embrace with... anyone. Boak.

Does anyone now complain of suffering a “sair fecht”? This was a catch-all for diseases of melancholy sadness. Symptoms included sighing, heavy limbs, bone-deep weariness and just being plain old rundown.

My great aunt advocated a curative regime that included chicken soup, a wee blether and Wincarnis tonic wine, usually all three at once, then a brisk walk along the prom at Dunoon. Fuelled to the gunnels with industrial-strength booze, she enlivened her constitutional yomp with rousing renditions of “Lead not to Temptation”, which she completely failed to notice was a temperance hymn. It was a crude cure, but remarkably, it worked.

Whilst it’s not a disease, being peely-wally isn’t a symptom you’ll see on any modern doctor's notes, and that’s a downright shame. It's a particularly whiter shade of pale, with undertones of green.

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There are two levels. Just “peely wally”, can escalate to “awfy peely-wally”. That’s bad, especially in children under the age of ten in any form of motorised transport. Boaking, wet and dry, is seldom far away at that point, usually leading to a hingy child, and parents suddenly aware that life is a sair fecht. Fortified wine all round I say. Well, maybe just for mum and dad.

So take that, guinea worm. You’ll not be making anyone peely-wally ever again.

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