I agonized over a title for this column for quite some time before settling on the one I did. Basically, here’s my rationale: I have a very rare medical condition, PVN, which isn’t even on Wikipedia. According to my doctor, no one knows how long it will actually last — it could go away tomorrow, in a year, in ten years, or never. It’s pretty innocuous; all it does is make me cough a lot even though I’m not sick.

I was thinking about PVN a couple of weeks ago at work, and considering all the strange medical “conditions” people have that they don’t know they have, that they deal with every day. Here are six of the best that I’ve found.


6. Pandiculation — Do you like to stretch when you wake up in the morning? What about before exercising? You might suffer from pandiculation, or the act of stretching oneself.

Take two of these… If you or someone you love suffers from pandiculation, talk to your doctor about Stretchitol, in conjunction with a course of non-activity. Side effects may include muscle strain, weight gain, and an increased data bill as you watch all of the Netflix.


5. Pogonotrophy — Touch your face. Go on, touch it. Is it fuzzy? Do you have hair on your chin, cheeks, neck, or upper lip? You might be dealing with the very serious condition known as pogonotrophy.

Take two of these… Treatment for pogonotrophy is relatively inexpensive, but because it is a chronic condition, the costs add up. Additionally, someone you love might prefer you as a sufferer, so talk to your family before self-medicating.


4. Post-Micturition Dribble — Men, do you find a wet spot in your pants after urination, even after you “shake it off”? You may suffer from post-micturition dribble.

Take two of these… The internet suggests that performing kegel exercises can help to limit this condition, although sometimes you just have to suck it up and wear absorbent underwear. And don’t forget Good Charlotte’s important warning.


3. Aquagenic Urticaria — If you break out in hives every time water touches your skin, you have aquagenic urticaria. I’m pretty sure the Wicked Witch of the West had an extremely severe form of this illness. Not to be confused with “hydrophobia”, a symptom of rabies.

Take two of these… Fortunately, most forms of urticaria can be treated with antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, or steroids. Not that that necessarily makes the disease go away, but it can help. Unless your name is Elphaba and you have green skin, in which case you might as well go jump in a lake. Seriously, how did that woman ever keep clean? Sandblasting?


2. Aposiopesis — I was going to tell you about… Can we discuss… Aposiopesis is the condition where you… Anyone can be affected by… I can’t even…

Take two of these… Rebecca Cohen of Slate says that the phrase “I can’t even” is “the latest iteration of an ancient figure of speech,” which is aposiopesis. Unfortunately, there’s no “cure” for this. You just have to finish your sentences, since the official definition of this condition is:

a sudden breaking off in the midst of a sentence, as if from inability or unwillingness to proceed


1. Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia — Everyone loves desserts, but certain desserts can lead to extreme pain in the forehead region. If you’re eating ice cream and you get a headache, then you’re suffering from sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

Take two of these… While many alternative treatments for this syndrome do exist, the only real way to guarantee it won’t happen is to eat cold and/or frozen foods slowly, to give your body time to adjust. Unfortunately there’s no immediate way to eliminate “brain freeze”, so if you are stricken with it, endure it knowing that episodes likely end in 30 seconds, if not sooner.


Bonus Content!

When I googled PVN to make sure it wasn’t on Wikipedia, I came across an alternate diagnosis, “mystery chronic cough” or laryngeal sensory neuropathy (LSN). Now, I’m not a doctor, and I’m certainly not going to go back to mine and say “what if it’s this” because ultimately it’s extremely difficult to diagnose and treat — you have to eliminate every other possible cause first, and that could take a really long time. I’m going to keep my PVN diagnosis. It’s not hurting anyone. Not even me.


Got an idea for a future “Six of the Best” column? Tweet it to me @listener42.

Have you reviewed Josh’s new book The Clockwork Russian and Other Stories? No? Is it because you haven’t read it yet? Because you really should. It’s got an awesome cover and everything.