Ask Conlan: Frost/Phlebitis

A reader from Fresno, California writes:

I was recently reading one of Joan Hess’ murder mysteries where Arly Hanks is the Chief of Police (and only police officer set in the town of Maggody, Arkansas where Rubella Bee (Ruby Bee) is her mom)…Murder in Maggody.Com or maybe something else and one of the characters with varicose veins was developing phlebitis from standing at her window spying on neighbors…and that rang a bell…my question to Ask Conlan is: did the late President Richard Nixon have phlebitis in his legs too or is my memory mistaken?

As much as I hate to admit it, this may be the single greatest “Ask Conlan” question to date. I mean, look at the elegant construction… the twists and turns… the pure delirium of it. It is clearly the work of either a genius or a madman. In any case, by virtue of the Ask Conlan Code ((“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor nutballs, nor Canadians (those bastards!), nor poisonous snakes, nor itchy beards, nor cappuccino, nor butter churns shall keep me from unswervingly and unwaveringly answering the sincere questions of my public. Unless I don’t feel like it.”)), I will address this question presently.

Dear Ari: As you no doubt have learned by now, a phlebotomist is one who draws blood from your arm, when you go to donate blood or if you fall asleep on the bus. So it is only natural that phlebitis refers to an inflammation of a vein, usually in the leg region. When coupled with blood clots, it has the fun name thrombophlebitis. (If you would like to learn more about your circulatory system, please visit your local library and cut yourself. Ask for a razor or scissors at the circulation desk.)

A number of prominent personages have dealt with phlebitis: Dan Quayle (former U.S. secretary of the aviary), Truman Capote (a notable homosexual), Pablo Neruda (Capote’s secret lover), and Orson Welles (director and actor, best known for inspiring Marlon Brando to become fat and scary).

And indeed, your memory is taken correctly. The late, great President Nixon also suffered from phlebitis, although it was hardly the most troublesome of his ailments. Additionally he suffered from eczema, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), evil, erectile dysfunction (which, at the time, was known as “What, are you gay or something?”), and polio (although during his presidency he hid this from the public using his jowls and sweaty forehead).

I hope that answers your question sufficiently. But I also wanted to address something else in your question. Something I believe may be quite serious. Specifically, “…and that rang a bell…” Unless you were hearing an actual bell (and I doubt this, as you do not live in Philadelphia) or are a Zen Buddhist, you may be suffering from a condition known as tinnitus, a phenomenon wherein the subject perceives sounds that are not really there. It can be caused by a number of factors: head injuries, Lyme disease, or the use of psychedelic drugs.

If your symptoms persist, please jam a Q-tip in your ear as far as it’ll go until you stop hearing the noises ((Please note: I’m not a doctor, but doctors are all in the pocket of Big Pharma anyway. They’re paid to keep you sick. We’ve had a cure for cancer for years (seaweed or something), but of course anyone who tries to talk about it is hounded by the FDA and the FTC and fined thousands of dollars, simply because nobody’s done any “controlled testing” or “scientific verification” or just because they’re “lying”. Big Oil. 9/11 was an inside job! Don’t trust informercials; they’re in the pocket of Big Coral Calcium!!! Q-tips!!)). You’re welcome. Write back any time.

If you have a question for me (Conlan), write to me (Conlan) at conlan (Conlan) at In the subject line write “Take, c/o yourself and others”. I’d love to hear from you!