Over the years, when introduced with the title “doctor,” some people reacted as if I were a real doctor. I’m always quick to point out that I’m not the kind of doctor that can do you any good. I encountered a kindergartner in Goodman that hadn’t gotten the word. While visiting his class one morning, Mrs. Weimer, the teacher, said “Boys and girls, this is Dr. Shaver. This hyper little fellow jumped to his feet, ran to me, pulled off his T-shirt and said “Doc, examine my bod.”
The things we are asked to do to improve our health are never ending. I heard about this patient that was advised to quit smoking. This led to his weight getting out of control. Then he was advised to cut down on his caloric intake which proved to be very difficult. To remind him not to eat, he kept a toothpick in his mouth, whereupon, he developed Dutch elm disease. Mark Twain even offered a word of caution. Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
There are times when doctors have difficulties diagnosing their patients’ ailments. According to an old story, this doctor asked the patient, “Have you ever had this before?” The patient said he had. “Well, you have got it again.” And there is a story about this intern that diagnosed the patient as having “locked bowels. “Oh, no, no,” the patient protested. “I can’t get out of the bathroom!” The intern said, “I mean locked open.” Kim Mailes told about the optometrist that advised his patient that he had a cataract. “No, no,” the patient exclaimed. “I have a Rinkon.” What else do you expect from an ol’ car dealer.
The late Elinor Lampo told this story (embellished by me) about her uncle and Dr. George Olive. Mr. North and George had a good relationship and spoke to each other in plain English. As Dr. Olive was pushing his wheelchair, Mr. North commented to onlookers about his horse doctor. Never to be outdone and realizing that his patient wasn’t concerned about his bedside manner, Dr. Olive said, “that’s the kind of doctor a jackass like you needs.”
While visiting the Civil War battlefield at Shiloh, I learned that the first field hospital, a MASH type unit, had been employed there. The state of medicine at that time was such that about the only option for many wounds was amputation. Obviously, these surgeries had to be performed quickly.
Due to the volume of work in battle, surgeons became very proficient in this procedure. In fact, there was informal competition as to who could perform the task the quickest. I have been told that the surgeon who recorded the record time for a particular procedure also cut off two fingers of his assistant.
At a Rotary program, this cardiologist enumerated the things you could do to mitigate your chances of having a stroke. If you don’t smoke, you would reduce your chances by a certain percentage. Your chances of avoiding a stroke would be further reduced with proper diet and even more if you didn’t drink and exercised properly, etc., etc. Adding all these together, you could reduce your chances of having a stroke by maybe 200 percent. Perhaps these actions were not intended to be cumulative, but if you had avoided reading this column, you could have increased your chances of having a good day by at least 10 percent.