I had never heard of it before now. Nor, apparently, has the spell-checker on my computer. If I have the illness, the same squiggly red lines that appeared underneath those words will appear all over my legs, as well. Also a few blotches and a little mottling. I can hardly wait to take my pants off to check.
The disorder is a result of having your laptop computer rest on your lap for hours upon hours. The effect is a discoloration of your skin that is disgusting to look at and potentially dangerous. Wait, I might be confusing this with going to a tanning salon.
Erythema ab igne (EAI) was first identified by two Swiss doctors who learned that people in pricey ski chalets found it was cheaper to warm up their laps than to turn up the thermostat. The two MDs in Switzerland were just thrilled to discover a new illness because the Swiss are so health conscious that even a computer virus is covered by socialized medicine.
What is interesting about this malady is that scientists also did research with youngsters who played video games up to 12 hours a day and discovered that these kids had also overheated their legs, but never noticed that most of them had fried their brains, as well.
Like most diseases, EAI is commonly referred to by a name that is easy for the layperson to remember.
Doctors are calling it Toasted Leg Syndrome, but I'm hoping they'll reconsider that decision.
When I think of toasted, it conjures wonderful images and memories like Post Toasties and toasted marshmallows.
But nowadays, everything is toasted. If they snuck in Toasted Leg Syndrome on Panera's menu between the turkey and artichoke panini and the sesame bagel with seared ahi tuna, I don't think anyone would notice.
And you'd get chips with it?
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, there were five other technology-related mishaps over the past year, but they're not very interesting, so I made up these stupid ones:
1. A woman clobbered her husband over the head with his new HP when she realized hooker.com was not a site for golfing enthusiasts.
2. A cat in Dayton, Ohio got its tongue caught in a USB port.
Now every time Molly coughs up a hairball, it's followed by six years of income tax returns.
3. A man in California hid his wife's birthday gift, a new computer, in the kids' treehouse.
During a tremor, the box was rocketed across the yard and struck him in the back of the neck, proving an Apple does fall far from the tree.
4. A near-sighted accountant mistook his notebook computer for a corned beef sandwich, took one gigabyte and broke his front tooth.
He also double-clicked his pickle.
5. A father of nine in Utah purposely left the computer in his lap for two days because he read that prolonged heat exposure in this area could potentially lead to infertility.
This seemed less scary and a lot cheaper than a vasectomy.
Update: His wife downloaded twins nine months later.
My brother in New York spends a great deal of time online.
He once dozed off while e-mailing with the computer resting on his legs, and woke up a few hours later to a searing pain.
He jumped up from his recliner and starting hopping around the room. His $700 computer crashed onto the floor.
Even for Manhattan, that's a lot of money for a lap-top dance.