Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly

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‘Surgeons gotta, well, do surgery’

Years ago, when The Dude and I were dating (well, actually, we were more than just “dating,” but that’s what one called it then), I went through a rather nasty spell of tummy trouble.

The pain was sometimes so severe, and attacks of gastric distress so sudden, that I would stay over at Dude Man’s place. Aside from the fact that I was smitten with him, I felt safer there since he was a doctor and all.

(The photo at the top of this post is what he looked like when I met him. He told me he grew that rather unfortunate mustache to “look older” to his patients. I suppose it worked, if you were the sort of patient who thinks a 31-year-old with an orange mustache looks “old.”)

Young Doctor Dude-In-Training (right) and his Med School buddies experimenting with “medical” marijuana

Turns out I had good reason to feel safer with him. One night the pain was so bad I had to go to the emergency room. “I’d better go with you,” he said. “If there’s a surgical resident on call, he (residents were almost always a “he” back then) will want to ‘open you up to see what’s going on.'”

He went on to explain that doctors want to do what they’re trained to do: surgeons wanna cut, radiologists wanna x-ray, gynecologists wanna, well, you know.

Dude Man is an ophthalmologist. Er, excuse me, “the best eye doctor in town”

This all came back to me because, like 80% of the U.S. adult population, I’ve been coping with a bad back: three herniated discs (L4, L5 and S1, as if you care) plus spinal stenosis. (If you really care, you can read about my spinal woes in “Lean to the Left, Lean to the Right. Stand Up, Sit Down, Fight Fight Fight!”

I’ve been to see a neurologist who had me get a brace for my spine, an anesthesiologist who gave me injections, and a physiatrist (not “psychiatrist;” if I saw one of those, he might say it’s all in my head) who prescribed physical therapy.

Sporting my snappy back brace, per neurologist’s instructions

The pain was so bad a few weeks ago that I called a surgeon. The wise woman (Hi, Mickey!) who took my call said, “Honey, you don’t want to see Dr. Hatchet (not his real name) — he’s a surgeon. Surgeons do surgery. Trust me, stick with the PT.”

The brace made my aching back stiff, hot and sweaty; the injections cost as much as a car and didn’t last. So I took Mickey’s advice and stuck with the PT.

The One and Only Reason for Zoom: PT Girl working her magic

I shouldn’t say “stuck” though, since I absolutely adore my PT Girl. We’ve bonded over the internet (as far as I’m concerned, Zoom was invented for one thing and one thing only, and that’s PT) and over topics as wide-ranging as pets, holiday cooking and visits to our mothers. I even shared photos of The Child’s wedding dress with her. (No, I won’t share them with you; her Childness would kill me, and rightfully so.)

I told PT Girl that she should charge extra — for head shrinking as well as butt shrinking

Before I leave you to join PT Girl for our 10AM session, I want to share the story of a doctor who took “doctors gotta do what they’re trained to do” to a whole new level.

This guy was an instructor at Dude Man’s medical school. Named Dr. Stanley Brown. He is long gone, but he’s very much alive in The Dude’s memory.

See, Dr. Brown was a parasitologist. Wrote the definitive textbook on parasitology, in fact. And what, you may ask, do parasitologists use as a diagnostic tool? Nope, it’s not x-rays or EKGs — it’s stool samples.

According to Dude, Dr. Brown would begin every course by introducing himself as “Dr. Stanley Brown, but everyone calls me ‘Stoolie.’ And you know why? Because it’s all about the stool.

Patient has a fever? Check the stool. Rash? Check the stool. Why, I bet if I went to Stoolie Brown for my back pain, he’d ask for a stool sample. I wouldn’t hesitate; Dude says he was a genius. And, who knows? Maybe a little parasitical critter is at the root of my problems. Stranger things have happened.

Meanwhile, do we think The Child needs to visit The Dude? As a patient, I mean

Amagansett, New York. April 2021

 

 

 

“How about never? Is never good for you?”

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‘Managing one’s schedule in these Corona Calendar Days’

I’m featuring a photo of Wombat here because my “date” with her is the only event on my calendar since March 14 that’s taken me further west than the town dump. Or taken me out of the house, for that matter.

Calendars may be empty, but the roads out here sure aren’t

Yes, I had to get in the car, yowling cat carrier in hand, and drive to the vet clinic in Bridgehampton. I called from the parking lot; gloved and masked vet came out, gloved and masked me handed over the cat. This transaction felt even more like a drug deal than when The Dude and I scored that Mexican meal back in late March.

While I was waiting for poor little Wom to be poked and prodded, I got to thinking about how different my calendars look for this Spring and last.

“Dr. Katz” (Yes, my vet’s name is Dr. Katz) on May 30 is the only calendar entry that’s taken place offsite (“site” being within my own four walls) since mid-March. Now let’s take a look at the same calendar “page” for May/June 2019, shall we?

A calendar so chockablock, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. And, dear reader, I’m sure I’m not the only one with huge calendrical contrasts. Why, last year I had bridge classes and museum tours and lunches with girlfriends and the French Open to watch. This year the event that occurs most frequently is “Call Mom.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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The Zoom Zoom Room

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‘Connecting in the Time of Corona’

I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning these days. No, it’s not from the craziness of the News Cycle — though the suggestion of ingesting bleach or zapping the inside of my body with “light” is rather mind-boggling — no, my noggin is spinning from all that Zooming.

I’ve been Zooming (or FaceTiming or Facebook Messengering) with West Coast Cousins of The Dude, members of my New York City Ladies’ Club, the Curator of the Frick Museum, and even Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah. (I’ve already written, in “Apocalypse Now,” about Zooming with John Krasinski.

Why, the whole Earth is zooming! (Thanks, New Yorker)

And that was just this week. It’s kind of funny, actually (if anything about this Corona Crisis can be funny), but I’ve been feeling more connected than ever during these weeks of isolation.

Somehow I thought that isolation would be more, well, isolating. But, as it turns out, I’ve got my coffee with the ladies on Mondays, my art lecture on Tuesdays, my Family FaceTime on Wednesdays. And this week, I’ve added a Cocktail Hour with my Bridge Buddies on Thursday. I hardly have time for those endless hours of curled-up-in-a-big-chair-under-an-afghan reading I’d pictured myself doing.

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