Today’s word of the day is “iatrogenesis.” It means medicine-caused illness. I stumbled across it reading a Jody Berland essay on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome this morning. She attributes it to Ivan Illich’s usage in his writings on medicine (for instance, this piece. But I suspect the term has a longer history worth looking up.

In any event, it is the latest stop in my wanderings through the existential forest of “is it cancer or the ‘cure’ that is making me feel sick?” I wonder whether my side effects fall into the category of iatrogenetic. It would seem that they do, in the sense that the treatments I am undergoing actually do damage my body. The effects are more or less known and predictable. Does it change the meaning of the dry crackly feeling in my throat this morning as I swallowed my toast? What does it mean that it’s the treatment and not the cancer?