The Uphill Slide

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Healthy As A Horse


I have not felt like writing many posts the last two weeks because I was using sick days which culminated with a trip to the fastER.

I gave the registration nurse my litany of two-week-long seemingly unrelated symptoms. When I got to the exam room, the nurse asked me to remove my jacket for a BP reading. As she turned she asked, “Are you here for that rash?”

“What rash? Oh god, was this shingles?”

I gave the nurse my complaints and waited for the doctor. When she arrived, I was forced to repeat my list for a third time, now adding this rash that made its appearance just in time for the doctor.

She listened and then latched onto the passing out spells. She said that anyone coming to the ER with a syncope would be admitted. Thank goodness my husband had not followed through with his threat to call an ambulance.

 “Really? They would admit me?”

That was days ago, and there were no new episodes. I guess I had reached an age when noises and rattles under the hood called for a mechanic.

“Is this the shingles?” I asked as I pointed to the large red spots.

“No, shingles only come out on one side of the body.”

“I didn’t know that.”

That was a relief to hear until she mentioned Lyme Disease.

“I thought Lyme had a bull’s-eye rash.”

“Yes, but it could first appear like this.”

I left with a prescription for steroids that supposedly would help my back pain coming from my body hitting immovable objects in the syncope episode and then as a bonus they could also be the cure for this late-blooming rash. I felt hope in the magic of little pills but suddenly a little sicker with an odd rash and the suggestion of Lyme Disease. My 65th birthday only two weeks ago had brought me suddenly closer to my mother’s footsteps of carrying a list of ailments and symptoms and medications. It is a foreign place for someone who was once lucky enough to say:

“I’m seldom sick. I’m healthy as a horse.”

Where does the expression “healthy as a horse” come from?

Jonathon Green, I am a lexicographer and establishing etymologies is a central part of making…
4.1k ViewsMost Viewed Writer in Etymology with 90+ answers

There seems to be no specific origin for healthy as a horse. The term starts appearing in the 1860s and since then seems to have been used in the US but not the UK. The imagery behind it is linked to other expressions whereby a horse is seen as symbol of strength and physical capacity, such as ‘eat like a horse’ and ‘strong as a horse’.

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