For My Own Good

I met my new doctor this afternoon, down at UVM’s FAHC. Not that I actually want a doctor; I’m one of those people, men I guess is another word for them, who might stop by the hospital if, say, an arm or a leg fell off, but other that that just wants to be left alone by the medical community.

Cutting down your time spent with doctors might even make sense — can you say iatrogenic, boys and girls? Maybe you’ve gotten that junk email from one of those people, gun nuts I guess is another word for them, talking about how the 700,000 doctors in the U.S. kill 120,000 people a year, making them (percentage-wise) much more dangerous than handguns. Ditto for hospitals — which make 2+ million people sick each year, and give us another great word: nosocomial.

Anyway, my wife and I wanted to dive into the state healthcare system of insurance for poor people, so our son would be protected, which meant that his parents had to visit a doctor too. This guy, bless him, was the only doc my wife could find in the area who would agree to see us at all. Like most everyone else in Chittenden Country he was extremely nice, and also the first Vermonter I’ve met on the edge of serious Type-A behavior, an interesting mix. But which is good, I guess — you want a medic who’s alert, who keeps up on things, not somebody lying around listening to… uh, Phish.

Speaking of medical emergencies, I almost fainted at the start of my appointment. I’d barely arrived, was still signing in, in fact, and his nurse came out to get me 10 minutes early. Amazing, but she claimed that unless something unusual happens, the FAHC likes to keep on, even ahead of, schedule. (Here’s something, to quote George Carlin in When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? [2004], that might put the FAHC behind schedule: “You want to hear my dream accident? Two buses and a chicken truck gettin’ hit by a circus train in front of a flea market. Entertainment!?)

Turns out, too, that (especialy for this worn-out, lazy, overweight guy) my blood pressure (100/70) is not too shabby. I don’t smoke, drink, eat much meat or rich foods — in fact, I can’t really afford any bad habits at all. The doc, though, was concerned about the only medical results I had to show him from the last 18 months. My cholesterol was low, they said, which you’d think would be good, but it was both my HDL and LDL. I needed to get the former up while the latter stayed down.

The LDL are the Mormons, and the… no, wait, this explains it. I needed exercise, the doc said, and lots of it. An hour a day, every day, which would cut my risk of heart attack from — here he pulled out his PDA and began figuring — from 10% to 4% over the next few years. A single hour of exercise would probably kill me, I started to say, but then he started talking about how he rode his bike to work from his home in Williston every day — about 15 miles to the east, and the temperature out today was in the low 20s. He added that last summer he and his son rode bikes from here to Mt. Katahdin, in Maine’s grand and glorious Baxter State Park, a simple journey of some 350 miles. (And Maine, as you know, is uphill.)

On a roll, he kept going, talking about his elderly patients who, by following a simple exercise regimen, stayed pain-free, prescription-medicine free, and only came to see him once a year, apparently to brag about their quality of life. “They spend a lot of time skiing,? he said. ?In their 80s.?

I didn’t bother to mention I hate skiing (along with the other two points of the Vermont trinity: maple syrup and cows). I couldn’t say anything, really. It used to be that you could shut up a medical man by saying, “So you say. But if this was hundreds of years ago, you’d be prescribing leeches for me.?

The doc knew, as well as I did, that that excuse doesn’t work any longer. Ever since the FDA approved leeches (not to mention maggots) as useful ‘medical devices.’

Can you say hirudotherapy?

* * *

p.s. More on my Bangor vs. Burlington theme (as yet unposted) — walking up and down the Church Street pedestrian mall, thinking how one good thing about a pedestrian mall is that you probably won’t get run over by a truck, I suddenly realized lute music filled the air.

Honestly. Amplified lute music, coming out of … I couldn’t tell, actually, where it was coming from? The light poles? The roof of the Homeport store? Some street musician hidden down an alleyway?
No one had asked me if I’d like to be assaulted by lute music while I was trying to work up my nerve to go see the doctor. In any case, this is definitely not the sort of thing you’d ever find in downtown Bangor.

Advantage: Maine.

About RPS
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3 Responses to For My Own Good

  1. WisdomWeasel says:

    Rather than lutes, more likely to hear the sounds of looting in Bangor after Downeast lightning burns down another store on Main Street.

  2. Grocubrorce says:

    thats for sure, brother

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