Opinion: As the stomach churns

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I created quite a stir during services last Sunday morning. Mary Ellen was embarrassed when she first heard it. She thought I should excuse myself from the sanctuary.

Was that my stomach growling?

No one has this identification problem with other bodily eruptions. Everyone clearly knows who the originator is — although with one sound in particular (and its result), there is usually blame-shifting that unfairly maligns the family dog. But with things like sneezing, hiccupping and coughing, it’s seldom an issue.

“Hey, Dick, that was quite a belch!”

“Actually, that was you, Bob. It’s an easy mistake to make.”

I’ll admit that I have loud internal plumbing. Each week, I record an audio tease for my television segments on WISH-TV. My producer said recently: “Let’s do that last line over again, Dick. I just heard the building’s sewer back up.”

The technical name for a grumbling stomach comes from the Greek word borborygmos. The dictionary says this is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that imitates the sound associated with something. Yes, just like the term bow wow accurately mimics the noise your rottweiler makes, the Greeks nailed it with borborgymos.

Now, before you start Googling (which also is medical jargon for what my stomach is doing), I already looked up this symptom and am aware that stomach rumbling is one indication of about 35 different illnesses, including uremia, acute mesenteric ischemia, aerophagia and functional dyspepsianone of which I had ever heard of. That meant I needed to Google those particular disorders, as well, but more Googling would have turned my stomach — which was the last thing I needed. 

When your insides churn noisily, your brain is sending a message to your gut to prepare for a meal. As one medical site notes, your belly is saying: “Hungry. No food here; must eat soon.” Why do stomachs sound like Tonto talking to the Lone Ranger?

I’ve been at my computer all afternoon and my wife just sent me an email saying she had a tough day and wants to go out for a quiet dinner. I hated to tell her, but that wasn’t going to happen. Not when I’m this hungry.

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