The British Malady

It’s either something in the water, or in the British DNA.  This occurs to me as I read about the poor soccer fan who used to go into “Addisonian crisis” when her beloved Manchester United was in a tense game.


Addison’s is pretty bad.  It’s an adrenal failure that leads to a shortage of cortisol, thereby dropping your blood pressure, and if it progresses further, to coma and death.

It almost killed her, although she did make medical history:

“We believe that our patient was having difficulty mounting an appropriate physiological cortisol response during the big games and therefore we present this as the first description of Manchester United-induced Addisonian crisis,” said Dr Akbar Choudhry who treated the patient.”

But fortunately, the good doctor figured it out, got her proper treatment, and now she can go to the games, scream her brains out, and not risk her life.

I know all about Addison’s disease, and not just because JFK had it.  A very important member of our family—Thurber—has it, and his symptoms are classic, just like the soccer fan’s:  anxiety, lethargy, trouble standing up, and “a sense of impending doom,” which afflicted the woman late in soccer games, but which seemed an integral part of Thurber’s personality.  You could almost hear him thinking, “all is lost.  We’re doomed!”

Thurber is the family Airedale.  A British breed.  The biggest terrier.  He looks like a stuffed animal, with his big head, his wet, black nose, his elegant ears, and his magnificent beard.

Like all terriers, Thurber thinks of himself as a perpetual puppy, and in keeping with the well-known characteristics of the breed, he is basically untrainable.  And he’s very whacky (just like the lady who got his disease).


So far as I know, he doesn’t root for Manchester United (his favorite sport is lurking-under-the-table-praying-for-food-to-fall), but otherwise his symptoms are the same as hers.  And Kennedy’s.  Now you see why I thought this affliction has something to do with the British water or the British DNA.  Three for three!  An Englishwoman, a British dog, and an Irish president.


PS:  People are curious why we named him “Thurber.”  Yes, it has to do with the great writer and cartoonist who wrote and drew so much about dogs.  He wrote a wonderful story called something like “The Dog Who Bit People,” about an airedale who bit everyone who came to visit.  Hilarious.  I wanted a dog who did that, and so…

But the experiment failed.  Thurber adores everyone, and when someone visits he flops over on his back and adopts the official State Department Negotiating Position:  legs splayed wide, tongue out, stomach quivering, awaiting a nice scratch.


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