Prone To Be Supine?

"Yes, please, the Lao-style massage," I said, after creaking up the solid teak staircase. The young Lao woman politely left me loose-fitting pyamas [sic] and indicated I should lie on my back. Her gentleness gave no hint of the $US3 fury to come.
Suddenly, she dug her left elbow into my nether regions, rotating it as if drilling to release some pent-up evil, in the way old football trainers dig their stubby fingers into corked thighs, seeking to break up clots. Then she pulled my right leg up to a frog kick position and proceeded to push it sideways until it met the floor, while sitting on my left side to anchor it. I became the one-legged ballet dancer, only in prone position.
TheAge blogger Roy Masters [Emphasis mine]


STEPHEN: Stick, no. Reason. This feast of pure reason.
CISSY CAFFREY: (PULLING PRIVATE CARR) Come on, you're boosed. He insulted me but I forgive him. (SHOUTING IN HIS EAR) I forgive him for insulting me.
BLOOM: (OVER STEPHEN'S SHOULDER) Yes, go. You see he's incapable.
MAJOR TWEEDY: (LOUDLY) Carbine in bucket! Cease fire! Salute!
THE RETRIEVER: (BARKING FURIOUSLY) Ute ute ute ute ute ute ute ute.
James Joyce, Ulysses. [Emphasis mine]

As a radio-ographer of some distinction back in the last quarter-century of the second millennium CE, E@L had occasion to learn of the correct anatomical nomenclature for not only the various body parts, but also for the absolute and the relative POSITION of those said body parts. We had to know this to describe the horrendous and awkward positions we would force the ill and maimed people to attain and then maintain for extended periods of breath-holding in order for us to X-radiate them with our Ultraviolence Sex-ray machines. No need for the breath holding really, that's all part of the fun we have to get back at people who get us out of bed at weird hours with their whingeing complaints about a compound fracture of this or a table-leg protruding from that... .

You see, we learn these terms so that every radio-ographer does the same things with their patients' body-parts (within the limits of the law) and therefore one X-ray of an arm, say, is meant to look more or less like every another X-ray of an arm. In this way the canny Radiological Doctors (nothing 'logical' about most of the ones I worked with), those who read the film and extracted the majority of the money from the exercise, could use an internal mental device thing they had mastered called "pattern recognition" (also they usually had a book open upon their desks, next to the Mooney-Valley form-guide, called "Grant's Atlas of Avoiding Major Radiological Fuck-ups") to determine if the bones were poking out in the wrong direction or not.

As an example of this knowledge, E@L knows that moving the arm out to side, away from the body laterally is called unambiguously adduction abduction. Bringing it back is abduction adduction.

Now, here is the point of this post: When the hand turned so as to have the palm facing up, it said to be is supinated. Supine. (From the Latin: believe what E@L says, he's know what he's talking about.)

Lying face up (to the sky after being knocked over in a drunken brothel melee, for example) or on your back having an Asian massage, therefore, is to be SUPINE. Not prone at all.

When the hands is turned palm down, it is said to be pronated. Prone. Prone has a very specific meaning - it means lying face down.

It really does. You are more "prone" to attack when you can't see what's above you for example. The foot is unique, as is the penis and not to mention the tongue, in being pronated in the Standard Anatomical Position. The female and male perinea are special cases as well as they face downwards and everyone is quite uncertain about the entire issue and blush when you bring it out up during lectures... (Gravity is an issue: hence the well-known Nursing Hygeine term "perineal fallout" which refers to uncalled for pubic hairs littering the surgical suites when the scrub nurse is going commando.)

In contrast to the absolutely defined terms "supine" and "prone", "decubitus" is an ambiguous word in radiography, for though technically it means lying on the elbow (the cubitus), it is generally taken to mean any attitude of lying down. Lying on the side is specifically called "lateral decubitus" (left or right), though to E@L it sounds tautologically redundant.

And just so's you knows it not just we radio-ographers who do be so pedantic, in sports shooting, when the shooter in lying face down to prop the gun on their bent arms, they are considered to be in the prone position as well.

So Mr Masters, Mr Joyce, you guys should be saying "supine" not "prone" in these narratives of yours. An exception could be made with the fictional Mr Stephen Dedalus if there was a concomitant rotationary fracture/dislocation of the cervical spine to 180°, but such a severe injury would be incompatible with life or at least result in immediate quadriplegia and render the last three chapters of Ulysses somewhat awkward as far as Mr Dedalus's locomotion back to the cabman's shelter, and thence to Bloom's home is concerned, and in any case he would more likely be known thenceforth as Stephen Deadalus. Ha ha.

It is unlikely that such a severe injury could have been sustained with Private Carr's ridiculous approach, his arms extended (not the ambiguous "outstretched" - laterally? anteriorally? posteriorly?) in some quaint Queensbury Rules method of attack. He would have been able to deliver only a limited force blow from such an attitude, compared to say a good roundhouse, or even an uppercut delivered from a flexed elbow position - POW, smack in the throat - that would have dealt the bastard fucker a bleeding blasted fucking decent blow to his windpipe (trachea/larynx).


(Note: the variant spellings of "radiographer" are: "medical imaging technologist"; "radiation technologist"; "x-ray lady"; or "hey, you with the blue badge")


Posted by: expat@large on Jan 31, 06 | 8:31 pm | Profile


X-radiate them with our Ultraviolence Sex-ray machines. No need for the breath holding really, that’s all part of the fun we have

Ha ha! Have your fun. But I recall the last time I was good and sick I had DYSENTERY but your colleagues wanted many pictures, many pictures. I much more enjoyed the Ultra-Sound Gal.

Posted by: Tom on Feb 01, 06 | 5:09 am

anyone who's been in the army should know the definition of prone: you have to qualify annually with your rifle, from both the supported and *prone* unsupported position. Also, if you say the word 'prone' enough, it sounds really funny.

Posted by: MercerMachine on Feb 01, 06 | 5:30 am

Tom, did you have something interesting inside or attached to your tummy that made them want to get extra snaps for the Christmas party jokes or were they just incompetent? I enjoy Ultrasound Gals whenever I get the chance as well...

MM, prone is one those words, true. Like "lather" or "pert"...

Posted by: expat@large on Feb 01, 06 | 10:27 am

Damn, never thought about the Xmas party aspect. Who knows? They swore it was a benign something about the size of a softball. But who knows? People lie, I could have been setup.

Posted by: Tom on Feb 02, 06 | 5:01 am

Lucky they didn't offer to shove a softball bat up your arse to knock it out...

No, really, we medical people are a bunch of sensitive caring individuals... For a fee.

Posted by: expat@large on Feb 02, 06 | 9:57 am


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