Modern Medicine

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I hardly ever remember a joke but here is one of two I do remember, probably because it is based on a belief I share: What’s the difference between God and a doctor?  God doesn’t think he’s a doctor.”

My former father-in-law was a doctor from the old school. You did not question his decisions or his directives. I stopped by his office one hot, summer morning in NYC wearing a wool sweater buttoned up to the neck. “You can’t be cold!” he exclaimed.

“Well, yeah…”

“You’re anemic then”, he announced, handing me a shopping bag full of iron supplements. I took those for years until he and his family moved to Italy. I stated using a local MD, and told him that I was getting constipated with all that iron and did he have an alternative suggestion for my anemia?

He suggested a blood test first and discovered that I had an acute problem with my thyroid and wasn’t anemic at all.

When I had my first child, my father-in-law placed me in the hands of an old crony of his. This was in the early days of Lamaze breathing, and this man did not approve of such shenanigans. I gained sixty pounds and went into labor. He wanted to give me some kind of knock-out drops, but I insisted on “natural childbirth.” He ordered Pitosin which dripped into my arm for twenty-four hours, during which time I managed to control the pain of the hard contractions with breathing, but finally the doctor reappeared and ordered a C-Section. My son was a ten-pound breach baby.

I asked the doctor why he had waited so long before ordering what was inevitable, and he answered, “I was teaching you a lesson. Maybe next time you won’t insist on this modern nonsense.”

Thank God the new generation of doctors are more open-minded. At least the young doctors I have encountered seem more interested in helping people, are more global in their approach to medicine, con I sidering the importance of diet and exercise in wellness, and don’t have that God Complex.

I love my internist, Nunzio Pagano at Asheville Internal Medicine. First of all, when he introduced himself, he used his first name! The old-timers would never have encouraged such chumminess, even when they always addressed the patient by first name. And most importantly, he encourages the patient to take the lead in her own recovery, never discouraging an alternative approach, and never insisting the patient take a particular medication or have a procedure.

This winter I have had considerable neck and shoulder pain. Nunzio encouraged me to take charge of my situation, understanding that surgery was out of the question for me, and as a result I have been in the good hands of three angels of mercy who have taken amazing care of me.

First, I give a loud shout out to Kathryn Winship of Black Mt. Pilates. She understood the cause of the pain, and helped me find some stretches that eased the discomfort. Then she directed me to Dr. Alaina Gellineau of Haven Healing Center. The chiropractic care I have received has helped enormously, improving not only neck pain but posture. At a certain point in my recovery, Alaina noticed that the sharp pain I felt in my arms seemed a separate issue from my neck and spine.

She referred me to Dr. Noreen Long of Black Mt. for acupuncture. In just three treatments, Dr. Long has eliminated my arm pain! Dr. Long also suggested some exercises to help me recover arm strength. She also Identified my giant SUV as the culprit in hurting my arms. The doors of the beast weighed hundreds of pounds and the back hatch was ridiculous. So glad I just traded it in!

Years ago my ex-husband and I were at a dinner for friends of his who had just completed a residency on OB/GYN. I had too much to drink and asked my set-mate, a particularly arrogant young man, “I don’t understand why men want to specialize in OB/GYN. Do you just enjoy seeing women in pain.”

He said with a straight face, “We hate women. You’re right.”

Yes. We have made progress!!