'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
We have a little hobby that my entire family enjoys. It’s a game called “Second-guess the doctor.” Nowadays, of course, everybody goes to multiple doctors. Even if you’re “healthy as an ox,” you still occasionally visit a doctor.
By the way, where did that expression come from? Is an ox the best we could come up with as the symbol of robust health? Have you ever seen an ox? Strong, yes, but not exactly slim and trim. And I bet the average ox has all kinds of medical issues, such as high cholesterol, toenail fungus, and insomnia because of worries about getting laid off due to the bad economy. The epitome of health? No way. The most vibrant and resilient life form on the planet is the cockroach. That should be our new expression, “Healthy as a cockroach.” It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
Anyway, I suppose there are a few people who are so healthy they never seek any medical attention. But the typical American goes to all kinds of doctors: general practitioners, orthopedists, cardiologists, gynecologists, dermatologists, optometrists, proctologists, and dentists. (If you visit one of those guys who combines proctology and dentistry, make sure he washes his hands before he checks your teeth.)
In the olden days (defined by my kids as that uncivilized, primitive era in history before the invention of the iPhone), the average citizen knew very little about medicine. The doctors were the experts, since they had all those years of medical training. So no matter what they said regarding a patient’s condition, the patient simply would nod in agreement and say, “Thank you, doctor, and who should I make the check out to?”
But now those of us who are not doctors have a new and wonderful source of medical information: the Internet. There are a myriad of health-related websites that assist people in pre-diagnosing their conditions so they can challenge a doctor’s conclusions. Some of these websites include WebMD.com, HealthCentral.com, and AllDoctorsAreQuacks.com.
And I’m sure medical professionals love the fact their patients now are armed with all kinds of valuable and occasionally accurate information. It’s almost as if every patient has his or her own personal trial lawyer standing there in the examination room.
Another thing the doctors must love are all those pharmaceutical ads on TV. At the end of each ad, the announcer says, “Ask you doctor if such-and-such is right for you.” Doctors probably have office pools, where they bet among themselves how many times each day elderly women will ask, “Doctor, is Viagra right for me?”
“Um, why do you ask, Mrs. Smith?” the doctor will say. “Well,” she replies, “the people on the commercial are always smiling, and I figure whatever they’re taking might make me smile, too. The announcer said I should ask you if it’s right for me.”
Getting back to our little family hobby (getting back to it? Did I ever start talking about it in the first place?), we also take full advantage of medical websites. So when we go to a doctor we already know EXACTLY what is wrong, and if the doctor even mentions something slightly different, he or she is in for a big argument.
Maybe that’s why the cost of health care is so high. The doctors are forced to spend half their time convincing patients that a small rash is really not “Fourth-stage Babylonian Leprosy.”
Doctors should sponsor TV ads, with the announcer saying, “Ask your doctor if DoctorsAreWrong.com is right for you.” The answer: No!
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