I’m going to try something new. When I arrived home every evening after a day’s work, I would ask my father-in-law how he was and his answer was always the same.  “It was a good day, I’m alive, aren’t I!”  It never dawned on me that he could have felt miserable or bored or both, or that he could have bitched or responded to the question as I do.  He came from a different generation, lived a different life and had different expectations of retirement than I have.

I find myself wondering whether his attitude actually made him feel better or whether it just made everyone around him feel better while he hid how badly he really felt. In retrospect, either outcome would be welcomed.  So, when asked how my day was, rather than going into my usual truthful complaints, I’m going to say, “It was a good day, I’m alive, aren’t I.”  I’ll let you know if it works (or, perhaps, you’ll let me know.)

You may be asking yourself why I’ve decided to change.  The main reason is I’m making everyone around me miserable. Maybe my father-in-was was onto something.  Maybe if the people around him were less miserable, he would be less miserable as well.  Afterall, every time he responded, “I’m alive, aren’t I?” I smiled and ignored the fact that he might be achy, bored, etc.  He was a bright man who cared for the people around him, never lost his sense of humor and overall enriched our lives.

BY the way.  I think I’ve found my old friend, Will Power. I have written about Will many times. He’s apparently has been hanging out in Chicago and contacted me when I started contemplating visiting Chicago. Visiting Chicago is going to be a daunting trip, 3 days driving there and 3 days back will be hard enough but we’ll be in a hotel for 2 weeks, no lift chair and, at best, so-so handicapped bathrooms.  In my current condition, visiting Chicago would be impossible.  With Renee and my old buddy, Will Power, at our side and an “I’m alive, aren’t I” attitude, maybe I can make it happen.

“Will,” your first assignment is to guard the refrigerator and pantry and keep me out!

Here is today’s joke:

Willpower can make you rich..

..if you get in the right person’s will.


I published the article below 3 years ago.  Covid has now done its damage and is now settling in for the long haul.  Looking back at this article, I realize that 69 was a very good year, as opposed to what I thought then.  Now that I’m seventy-one, it sucks!  In my case, aging is synonymous with rotting.  I’m making the best of it but rotting takes its toll.  The number 69 still makes me smile! Sixty-nine has come and gone.  Seventy-two is right around the corner. I can’t wait to see what it is like!

In the interim between 69 and now, I bought and sold my dream car and now have a handicapped equipped van. It’s pretty cool.  I can drive my wheelchair up the ramp and park it where the passenger seat used to be.   Road trips are now limited to 5 hours a day and the vast majority are to see the various docs I am currently seeing.  I’m still fighting with my weight.  My weight is winning.  The harder I work at losing weight, the heavier I get!  I’ll keep working on it. I suspect that my neighbor (on plant-based diet and doing well) is dumping his weight on my side of the fence.  I step in it and it sticks to me!

I’m exercising again, walking 200 steps a day (from the refrigerator to my chair) and opening and closing the doors. “AI” (artificial intelligence) is coming.  Actually, it’s here in my kitchen.  The LG quick view window lights up as I approach.  My fridge is glad to see me.  The quick view door weighs less so I can get food with minimal effort.  “Hey, Stew, I’ve got goodies for you.  Eat me!”  And I do.  While it’s not as good as 69, it certainly is filling.  See what I’m up against.

Three years ago, my perspective was a tad differen.  Below is the origninal article:

I’m 69 years old today.  I graduated from high school in 1969.  The 69 Camaro is my favorite car. Sixty-nine has always been my favorite number.  In previous articles, I’ve talked about the importance of keeping your inner child alive.  It used to be the mere mention of the number 69 that woke up my inner child.  Now, at 69, I’m not sure why that number was so magical.  My inner child died from CRS and/or the reality of aging.  Either way it sucks.  (Nice play on words).

As you know, I’m not happy with the aging process.  I fear my 69th year is going to blow (there I go again).   Renee and I are committed to biking daily. I’m starting to eat better although I’m not convinced it will make a difference.  My job search is not going well.  I’m overqualified for most and don’t have the credentials I need as a medical editor for the Sex magazine I talked about earlier. I stopped at the question, “Tell us about your experience.”  There was no way I was answering that other than to state that I was 69.  For a second, I thought that query had resuscitated my inner youth, then it fizzled.

North Carolina is hot!  Covid-19 is driving me crazy.  I want to sit in a restaurant and have a nice meal.  I want to have the neighbors over for a drink and appetizers. I want to go swimming.  I want to go fishing.  The reality is I’m stuck indoors like you and the rest of the world.

Writing about this is like puking; you feel better after the foul stuff comes out.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe 69 will be a good year.  Only time will tell.  It’s 9 am and I have the rest of today to find something to do. Actually, once you are retired, every day becomes the same. 

Hopefully, a vaccine will be available by January and then we will be able to do more.  We’ll see!  Until then, I’ll just have to come up with something to do each day and so will you.  Renee, this is my 69 year!

Here’s your joke:

Whatever you look like, marry a man your own age.  As your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.  Phyllis Diller

I guess three years can make a difference.  Some things stay the same; some things improve; and some things get better or don’t.  Covid now is manageable; it is still hot in North Carolina; and I’m still sharing my experience with you.


Does your doctor ask you random, seemingly ridiculous questions?  Mine does!  Let’s say I’m seeing my doc for an infected toe. The nurse asks:

Nurse: How long has your toe been infected?  Have you been feverish? In the past 2 weeks, have you felt worthless?

Ok, what’s going on?  Toe infections usually don’t cause feelings of worthlessness!

So, why ask that question?  If you are on Medicare, you’re worth a lot of money that is hidden beneath the surface.  Doctors’ offices have learned to mine for that money.  If your staff is savvy, then they will fill out multiple check lists on every visit.  In turn, the billing department will apply the proper codes and collect from Medicare for the codes applicable.

When I was in the final years of practice, Medicare instituted the Annual Wellness Visit for which they reimbursed $140 dollars. In my 35 years of practice, I never had a code I could bill that much for.  What was even more amazing was the fact that the visit was all checklists.  No actual physical exam was required. It was no wonder that many specialists started billing for it also.  Heck, the pharmacies advertised free physical exams causing many patients to use this benefit in the pharmacy, diminishing its value. They also requested regular screening for depression and other illnesses for which they would pay even more money.

The AWV actually has merit, paying your doc to organize your chart, keep problem lists up-to-date, and do a medical review of your care and immunizations.  So, when in the middle of an office visit for a foot injury the nurse asks me about depression, I realize that she is panning for gold and am glad to answer her seemingly inappropriate questions.

Here’s your joke:

They say that during sex you burn off as many calories as running eight miles. Who the hell runs eight miles in 30 seconds?


Renee had shoulder surgery yesterday.  She’s doing great. As I’m no longer dependable, we have in-house, around- the-clock nursing aides to take care of both Renee and I during the acute stage of her recovery.  They’ll probably be here for 3 to four more days then we will shift to day-time help only.

To further assist Renee in her recovery, her childhood friend drove in from Norfolk.  Andrea is on a low fat diet and is going to help me get my shit together.  At 250 pounds, I have a lot of work ahead of me. For the next 2 weeks Andrea will be my Will Power.

I’m loving the attention.  Yesterday, I had 3 back rubs.   So far, I’ve had one back massage today and its only 5 am. Breakfast is being prepared while I type this article.  If this is what assisted living is going to be, sign me up.

Since my last article, I’ve noted some subtle changes in memory.  The changes are most visible when we play bridge.  Cards are shuffled and dealt.  Sometimes, if I  count points from right to left I get a different number than If I count from left to right.  It’s sad as I used to be somewhat of a math whiz.  Immediately after the cards are played the conversation goes like this:

Renee -Whose deal is it?

Me- I don’t know. I think Drew dealt that hand.

Drew-I think Ellen dealt it.

Me – I’ll deal.

And the conversation continues after every hand. Short-term memory loss is common amongst my friends.  If it wasn’t so funny, it would be sad.  I find myself using word substitutions more frequently as well.  Memory loss is scary. If you are worried about memory loss, watch for progression and the severity of loss.

Getting lost while driving in familiar areas is particularly threatening as is forgetting to turn the stove/burners/water off.  If these symptoms start showing up, see your doc immediately. Forgetting names or whose deal it is are much more common and may not be significant.

Neuropsych testing is the BMW of testing to study memory loss and should be instituted if you are worried or showing signs of progressive loss.  I have a mild cognitive impairment consistent with my age which is why I substituted BMW for Hallmark.

Medications for memory loss are often helpful and your doc may prescribe meds to be taken daily.  Here’s today joke:

My dad suffers from short term memory loss…

I hope it doesn’t run in the family because my dad has it too.


I must be hallucinating.  It can’t be real!  I heard rumors but was convinced that my profession would never sink to such depths.  It is real!  See for yourself!  I want to puke!  The AMA and boards should all go to hell.

What am I talking about?  Go to Amazon’s home page and look in the far-left corner.  See where it says clinic.  I thought someone must have misspelled “gimmick.”  Glick on clinic and you open the door to Alice’s wonderland.  Yep, got a urinary infection, you can be treated without seeing a doctor.

Fill out some papers.  Attest to your age and sex and without being seen by anyone, you get treated.  Having trouble getting it up, wave your fingers over the keyboard and “presto chango,” you get a blue pill boner.  If you’re a guy, you know what this means.  Once you’ve taken care of the boner, you are going want to take care of the pink eye.  Again, you have to be older than 18 to get meds for pink eye.

As a bonus, you can message the nurse practitioner or MD for 2 weeks after you are treated. Whoopy!  Is he/she going to treat the allergic reaction/side effect of the treatment you received.  What about the urosepsis (severe infection) from using the wrong antibiotic or the C. Dificile diarrhea from the antibiotic.

Heed my warning.  Read every piece of paper they give you and take every warning to heart.  Having an unexpected side effect is rare; but, if it’s one in million and the one is you, who cares about the other 999,999.  If you get into trouble, go right your doc or the ER and get appropriate therapy.

One last thought.  If your penis is not working, you owe it to your best friend/life-long friend (your penis) to see a doctor and get yourself checked out before you force him to stand at attention and take a beating.

Here’s your joke for the day.

A dick has it rough.

Not only are his closest friends nuts, but his backdoor neighbor is an asshole. And if that weren’t enough, he regularly takes a beating.


One thing I’ve never gotten used to is being caught up in a no-win scenario.  The no-win scenario is a common occurrence in the medical world (even more so in today’s hospitalist environment).

Let me explain. Patient X presents with high-risk symptomatology, and you recommend he/she go to the ER and be admitted for further testing and monitoring.  The differential diagnosis is lengthy with the potential for permanent damage or even death.  The patient insists that nothing is wrong and does not want to go to the hospital.  After some arm twisting, the patient relents and goes to the ER by paramedics.

In the old days, I met my patient in the ER and controlled the workup and the referrals.  Things moved quickly. In today’s world, the ER doc runs the show until the hospitalist takes over and both the ER doc and hospitalist are incentivized to send the patient home for outpatient workup. It’s a win for the ER as the patient didn’t want to be there in the first place. Unless, of course, the patient worsens or dies while awaiting the outpatient workup.   

Prior to retiring, I sent a patient to the hospital ER and requested that the ER doc order a CT scan.  The ER doc called me to tell me that he refused to order the CT as he had been “dinged” too many times for ordering CTs.

I got out of bed, drove to the hospital at 3 am and ordered the CT.  The CT showed a bowel rupture as I suspected it would.  By the time the ER doc saw the patient, the bowel had ruptured, temporarily relieving the pain and, rather than believe the patient and my assessment, was ready to discharge the patient. The patient went to surgery and did fine. There is often a calm before the storm as the pressure is relieved by the rupture and pain goes away, then infection sets in.

So, back to the original story, my patient is pissed off that he is in the ER.  The ER doc and staff want to send the patient home for further workup but ultimately do the right thing and order some tests.  The tests are positive requiring specialty care.  It’s decided to transfer the patient to another facility for specialty care, but the transfer never occurs.   Communication between the docs, patients and hospital is poor.  Ultimately, the patient is discharged several days later and is frustrated that he stayed in the hospital and perceived no benefit.

In the latter years of my practice, the above scenario became more and more common.  Frankly, it made me think twice about sending my patient to the ER. I, too, was being incentivized to send patients home and do outpatient workups.  Experience trumped the hassle factor; and, to this day, if any symptom could be associated with permanent injury or death, I advise people go to the ER.             

When I’ve advised that my friend or relative (I am no longer a practicing physician so I no longer have patients) go to the ER, I hope and pray that nothing serious is found, knowing full well that they may be mad at me if they turn out to have nothing.  I often pray that I am wrong.  However, in most cases, I am right.

So, what do you do if things are not going well in the hospital?  If communication breaks down?  If you need assistance, ask to speak with the DON (Director of Nursing) or the CEO. They can usually help. Which brings me to my favorite blessing.  May you be so blessed as to never know what disease or injury you prevented by going to the ER in a timely manner.


I usually write about this subject once a year. Women will tell you that men are stubborn, and men will tell you that women are.  Really, stubbornness is universal.  How you handle the spouse who refuses help is dependent on sex.  The answer is highly dependent on the severity of the consequences of inaction that could result if care is not sought. What do you do when your loved one needs help but refuses to acknowledge it? I

In the case of chest pain and neurological problems,. a trip to the ER is best:

 You’ve got bad indigestion.  Why not see your doc?  How likely are you to speak to your doc on the first call?  Not very!  If you’re lucky enough to speak with a triage nurse, he/she is most likely going to put you on hold while he/she confers with the doc on call. Forty minutes later the nurse sends you to the ER or makes an appointment for you to be seen in 1-2 weeks.  Medicine is called into your local pharmacy.

Did you know that heartburn and heart attack can be indistinguishable? Yep! One eighth of my patients with indigestion ended up with a diagnosis of heart attack/heart disease.  Mr. X sat in my lobby for 2 hours before he was seen.  He was asked about chest pain multiple times and denied having pain in his chest.  He did have “indigestion” he attributed to spicy Mexican food.  His indigestion was a heart attack.

Had he called the paramedics, he would have been seen immediately.  There is a “golden period” of 4 hours during which the ER can reverse the effects of a heart attack or a stroke. Once you are in an ambulance, you’re really in the ICU.  Assume that this patient did not come to the office but stayed home. 

His wife says, “Darling, I’m going to take you to the hospital.”

 A typical response from her husband would be, “Its just indigestion; do we have TUMS?  I’m not going to the ER!” 

Wife says, “I’m calling the paramedics!”

 Classic response from her husband, “If you call the paramedics, I’ll never talk to you again!” Four hours later, in the cardiac intensive care unit:

I ask the wife, “Did it dawn on you that if he died, he’d never speak to you again?  Better he be mad than dead.”

Unexpectedly, the wife responds, “I did, I thought about it and decided I’d call the paramedics and pray he lives and never talks to me again.”

These days, ER (actually all docs) docs are incentivized to send patients home for out-patient management. The formula for catastrophe is a patient who belittles his indigestion and sees a physician who is tired of being admonished for admitting patients to the hospital.

On the TV show, Dragnet, Detective Joe Friday’s signature line was “The facts, ma’am, just the facts.”  In the ER, the doc needs the facts and more than just the facts.  He/she needs to know everything leading up to and through the present. The ER doc needs an accurate history of prior illness, surgery, medications and allergies.

As a patient, you should have several documents on your computer.  Documents should be entitled past medical history, current medications, allergies, surgical history, family history and review of systems.  If you keep them current, then printing and taking them with becomes a simple task.  

If you are worried about being sent home, pack a suitcase.  It’s hard to send a patient home with a positive suitcase sign.

Here’s your joke- Q: Why was the insurance company refusing to pay after lightning struck the church?

A: Because they said it was an act of God, therefore, deliberate destruction by the owner.


Do as I say, not as I do! There are certain prerogatives to having practiced medicine for years.  In medical school, we were told that the doctor who treats him/herself has a fool for a patient.  After 45 years in medicine, it’s my opinion that the doctor who does not take an active role in his/her own treatment is a fool.

My doctor/patient relationship is excellent since I’m both doctor and patient.  I know what I know and what I don’t know. My trust level is as high as you can get. My relationship to myself allows me to pick treatments that are more likely to be successful.

So, when I talk about the treatment of my depression and my refusal to take medications, I have 45 years of diagnosing and treatment depression.  An example will help you understand. 

My gerontologist referred me to a psychologist.  During the initial eval, the psychologist started questioning me.  I said “17”.  The shrink looked at me and said, “What is 17”?  “17” is the score I’m going to get on your screener.  I administered the screener so many times over the years that I memorized it.

Right or wrong, my treatment is not the standard treatment.  It has the approval of my MD and I strongly suggest that you follow your doctor’s treatment plan. By the way, a high-end sports car is an expensive treatment and is not covered by insurance. Medication is both effective and safe if your doc wants to medicate you.

Here’s today’s joke:

A dad was depressed, so he went to the liquor store.
He bought some whiskey and tequila.
When he got home, he set them on the table.
His son immediately picked up both bottles.
The dad asks, “What are you doing?!”
The son responds, “You were sad, so I’m lifting your spirits.”

By the way, alcohol is a depressant.



The votes are in and the results are definitive.  My readers say my articles are too depressing.  In other words, my depression is showing!  As I’ve become less mobile, I’ve become more depressed.  I had to sell my convertible and Thursday will take delivery on a handicapped van.  What a change!

I’m hopeful that being able to get out and travel some will brighten my days.  Actually, just knowing that I’ll have the ability to take my electric wheelchair with me already brightens day.

I’ve decided that my moratorium on flying has been getting me down.  My best buds leave for Ireland this coming week; and, for a multitude of reasons, I am not. I normally go to Paradise Village in October and have been bummed out by the idea of not being able to spend 2 weeks in my favorite place on earth.

One thing depression does to you is blunt your ability to problem solve.  The airlines and Prospect really did a number on me.  The abuse I took in Houston (United Airlines) and then again in Dallas (American Airlines) made me never want to step foot in an airport again. Knowing how I feel now about traveling by air, I can’t imagine how bad PTSD affects people.  None-the-less, I spent a lifetime solving other people’s problems but couldn’t solve my own.

The answer was a simple one.  I’m looking forward to going to Mexico in October of this year.  I’ll travel to Dallas on day one and stay overnight, flying out the next morning.  On the way back, I’ll stay overnight at my port of entry into the United States, flying out the next day.  The stress of making the connecting flight will be gone.  I’ll expect to be dumped in a holding area and just have to put up with a system that routinely ignores the rights of the handicapped.  This time I’ll wear a diaper.

It’s a pity United and American no longer fly non-stop to Puerto Vallarta.  It’s also maddening that they’ll charge me extra for the longer layover despite the fact that they can’t service their customers with shorter layovers.

The long and the short of it is I’m going to look forward to whatever life I have left.  I’ll adapt to whatever changes are coming and use good old fashioned ingenuity and technology to mitigate my losses.

Thanks for your feedback on my journey to the darker side.  Now I really want to hear from handicapped travelers who have been abused in our airports.

Here’s today’s joke:

A woman told her friend, “I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to join a fitness club and start exercising.” “So, I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was already over.” (Copied from scary mommy jokes)


Last night I told Renee I was going to have a lousy week or 2 as I finally decided to take my weight off.  I apologized for being grumpy in advance of being grumpy. I’ve spent today talking to myself.  I’m hungry!  Today is Renee’s and my shopping day.  We went to the kosher grocer for fresh Challah.  If you’ve never tasted Challah, you should try it.

Challah is a braided loaf of a soft egg bread with a dark crust.  Renee slices hers.  If she is not around, I pull off a hunk. My conversation with myself goes like this:

Me – “Go ahead.  Pull off a hunk. You deserve it”.

Me- “No, you don’t!  You’re going to break your diet after only 12 hours?  You know better than that!”

Me –“It’s fresh, you can’t always get fresh Challah.  A chunk of Challah, a smear of cream cheese, a slice of lox, lettuce and tomato”

Me- “What a schmuck.  Either shit or get off the pot.  It’s now or never!”

I DID NOT EAT THE CHALLAH. For me, losing weight requires a change of mind set.  “I live to eat!”  needs to change to, “I eat to live.”  Anyone who knows me knows that my motto is “Go big or go home.” I need to change my motto to “Go any bigger and you won’t be able to fit into your home!”

Writing this article is my declaration of independence from my refrigerator.  Now that I have publicly challenged myself to weight loss, I succeed or embarrass myself.  So, say a prayer and send suggestions. 

Here is today’s joke:

Her husband was so obese that when he weighed himself, the scale said, “Please tell your family members to wait their turn.’

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