Body Signs
by Joan Liebman-Smith, PhD and Jacqueline Nardi Egan
Bantam, 299 pages, $14
Coming March 9, 2009

Poking around the office yesterday, I came across

Body Signs: From Warning Signs to False Alarms...How To Be Your Own Diagnostic Detective.

It could be because I'm always curious about stupid things, or because I've recently discovered my love for

House, M.D

., but I picked it up and decided to diagnose myself.

The book isn't as user-friendly as I'd expected (I wanted to open it up to the "Nose" chart, find "Bulbous" on the Y-axis, then follow it to "Evil" and "Benign" as far as syndromes that this could be an indicator of). There are chapters for various aspects of the body - hair, eyes, torso, genitals, skin, and so on, arranged in paragraph form with some neat little tidbits of useful and not-so-useful information scattered throughout. Let's go through what I learned, shall we?

  • Research shows that "women who suffer from migraines that are preceded by a visual aura are at increased risk of heart attack of stroke." Shit, that's me.

  • I have wet earwax - which puts me at an increased risk for breast cancer. Dammit!

  • "Indeed, one of the latest crazes among some young women is shaving their pubic hair." Oh, those crazy kids!

  • There actually is a condition called
  • "exploding head syndrome."

  • There have been cases in which someone, following a stroke, begins talking in a foreign accent for no apparent reason. Maybe that's what happened to Madonna in the late 90s.

  • I always thought my weird-looking toes were just passed down from my gypsy-orphan great-grandmother from Bohemia. I call them my "gypsy toes." Apparently they're just hammertoes, and say nothing about my ancestry. Lame.

  • The paper that was sent to us from Bantam along with the book said that
  • Body Signs
  • will tell me what my moonless nails mean. Yet there is no section for moonless nails in the nails section! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!

Now, I mentioned

House, M.D.

up there. House likes to point out to unsuspecting strangers that clubbed fingers can be a sign of impending heart disease - indeed,

Body Signs

confirmed this, and added a few more serious conditions on top of that.

After reading this book, I'm not exactly as apt as Greg House to tell people what kinds of terrible things they're going to die from simply from seeing the rings around their pupils or the strange texture of their hair, but I feel just a little bit smarter. (Just a little bit.)

Oh, and one last thing. Other


fans will notice that the word "sarcoidosis" is said in just about every episode. (They also give pretty much every patient erythromycin at least once, though it is not a treatment for sarcoidosis.)

I was waiting with bated breath for a buzzword to come up - and there it was, almost at the end, on page 257. Apparently, sarcoidosis, which is related to lupus, rarely shows symptoms. But if you have scaly patches on your face, watch out... it might be in you, too.

Who knew?