”Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” — Mark Twain
Once, back in my newspaper days, I got the idea I wanted to be the health editor. The reason was I felt qualified, with everything I’d been through with my mom and all of her doctors. But PB (publisher boss) said probably not a good idea. However I kept pleading my case, reminding him we would even have an MD on call, referring to my friend, Dr. Sum Ting Wong. You may remember when I last called on Dr. Wong a few years back...
Me: Doctor, I’ve heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
Doc: Heart only good for so many beats and that it... Don’t waste on exercise! Everything wear out eventually. Speeding up heart not make you live longer; it like saying you extend life of car by driving faster. Want to live longer? Take nap.
Then there was the time I took that antibiotic known as penicillin, and recorded that nightmare in another column called, “The Itch.”
“The woman at the ER desk indicated without saying it that I was to write my name on a piece of paper and find a seat in the brightly lit room filled with depressed looking souls and sounds of late afternoon television.”
“Was this an outbreak?” I wondered to myself. Have I contracted Anthrax through a Sonic “Butterfinger Blast!” Must be the Russians. Or Nazis. How diabolical.”
Then there was the time I was sure I was having a heart attack, or, as a health editor would say, acute myocardial infarction. The fact that it came on soon after I’d eaten a chili dog never occurred to me. The doctor who examined me did say it was something acute, but he called it acute bloated indigestion.
I had more episodes, but my memory is clearer about Mom, and her many visits to the hospital over the last six months of her life. She would fall a lot, fortunately without ever breaking anything.
“Mom, you know that walker sitting over there against the wall collecting dust would do a great job of keeping you perpendicular to the ground.”
One time after she bonked her head pretty good the nurse at the assisted living sent her to the hospital to get checked out. I met her there and soon a doctor came by to check on her. He gave her some simple cognitive tests, which she did well on. But I was a little concerned because after each diagnosis he’d give her, he’d grin real big and say, “But don’t quote me.” Also a little curious was that his jacket said Anesthesiologist.
It was all worth it though, to hear Mom laugh after he left.
“Don’t let him do a heart transplant on me,” she chuckled.
So last week I was going through a few health issues of my own. I was having night sweats and my face was breaking out.
“Sounds like the change of life,” a lady I know told me.
I scoffed at her, defending my manhood by telling her how great I used to be at sports, especially football. She’ll have no way of checking.
I made an appointment with my GP and when I arrived at his office the first magazine I saw in the waiting room was Time, which had a picture of a half-naked guy on the front and a headline that read — “Manopause.”
Great. As if we don’t have enough to worry about.