Forget the silly Cirque du Soleil: In Vegas, try the Circle of Willis |

Forget the silly Cirque du Soleil: In Vegas, try the Circle of Willis

Barry Smith

Here’s how it works: You spend many years of your life going to school and you become a doctor. Since medicine is an ever-evolving field, the stuff you spent the prime of your life studying soon becomes a bit outdated. So you have to go to these meetings every so often to get caught up on all the newfangled advancements.This is where I come in. See, I spent the prime of my life finding new ways to induce the phenomenon commonly known as the “head rush.” Meaning that I’m also attending these medical meetings, but I’m all the way in the back of the room, working as the AV Guy.In the last few years I’ve been AVing at quite a number of these medical education meetings, as even the most casual reader of this column is probably aware. When I tell people this – and eventually I tell EVERYONE – they say, “Wow. You must really be learning a lot.”Well, let me tell you …I am yet again sitting in such a meeting, right this moment, typing this as it happens, and the doctor speaking has just used his laser pointer to indicate an MRI of the “Circle of Willis.”Now, “Circle of Willis” is an anatomical term – I know this because of the context – but that’s all I can tell you about it.I also have wireless Internet access at this meeting. I could Google “Circle of Willis” right now and figure out which part of the body he’s talking about. Could be the knee. Could be the brain. I really don’t know.And I don’t want to know, because that would ruin everything.Because if I actually started learning things, then all the magic would be gone. As it is, every time the doctor says “Circle of Willis,” which is about every two minutes, I think exactly what you are thinking right now:”Wha’ choo talkin’ bout, Willis?”I love that about myself, and I’ll be damned if I let education take that away from me.He just said “Circle of Willis” again, and this time I thought, hmmm, sounds potentially naughty.Right? Doesn’t it? C’mon. Circle of Willis. Aren’t all of you who haven’t been to medical school just totally right here with me?And if not, it’s only because you’re not sitting in the back of a dark Las Vegas convention room, slightly hung over and drowning your sorrows in coffee and bran muffins. But if you were, every time the guy said “Circle of Willis” we’d look at each other and snicker. Promise.Another reason I’m happily not learning anything has to do with the second most popular response to my AV Guy proclamation. This one: “Doesn’t hearing about all those maladies make you paranoid that you might have them?”Maladies? What maladies? You mean like “intracardiac thrombosis?” Or a “subarachnoid hemmorhage?” Or “atrial fibrillation?”These aren’t maladies. These are poems.Seriously. To me, these are the lyrical equivalent of bright, shiny objects. I mean … necrotizing pancreatitis? I don’t have a freakin’ clue what this means, and I must have heard it 10,000 times. And each time I hear it I smile, like someone is singing me a song.Now, had I made the mistake of actually learning something, I bet I’d cringe each time I heard “necrotizing pancreatitis.” Oh my God! That’s horrible! What a terrible, awful thing to have, or have happen, or whatever.But I didn’t, and I don’t, and I have no plans to do so in the future.Because if I have to go on listening to this medicalese, then I demand that it remain a fresh and exciting new language, one that sounds cool but has no relation to my life. Like music from deepest Africa – I don’t need a translation of what they’re singing about … it just sounds cool.Ignorance is my co-pilot.So, if I’ve left you with only one thought today, I sincerely hope it’s this: “Thromboembolectomy.”Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is, and his very own Web page is at

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