FANTASY ISLAND

It worked; and, then again, it didn’t work.  The mention of sex brought more readers to my blog as expected.  It worked!  The problem arises when I look at how long they stayed on my site.  It didn’t work! My readers left fairly quickly.  Yes, I look at statistics to define who my readers are and what they want to read.  Stay with me today, I think you’ll find this article interesting.

But first, a story.  Years ago, my buddies and I took a trip to Italy.  Italy was fantastic, rich in history, wine and food.  We traveled the countryside with a guide and one of our tours side trips was to Pompei.  It was a glorious, bright sunny day when we arrived at Pompei.  Mount Vesuvius was in its full glory.  As we toured the remains of the city, our guide took us to the local whorehouse.  Pompei was destroyed in 79 AD.  Can you believe it?  In 79 AD, men were frequenting whore houses.

I took lots of pictures with my phone camera.  Due to the bright sun, I could not see the pics on the phones screen until we were back on the bus and heading away from Pompei.  To make a long story short, I have 30 pictures of my forehead.  I had the camera reversed! 

You are probably asking yourself, what’s this got to do with sex?  I promised it would be worth the wait!  If men have been frequenting whore houses since 79 AD, why are whore houses still illegal?  Yep, bet you weren’t expecting to read about sex for money, were you?

Face it, men like sex.  So do women but that’s another topic for another day.  Complicating things is the “Madonna-Whore Complex”. “Accordingly, Sigmund Freud developed a theory to explain men’s anxiety towards women’s sexuality, suggesting that men cast women into one of two categories to allay the uncomfortable dichotomy of fear and desire: the Madonna (women he admires and respects) and the whore (women he is attracted to and therefore disrespects).  The Madonna-whore complex views women’s desirability/licentiousness and purity/maternal goodness as mutually exclusive traits”.

In my years of practice, issues surrounding sex played a large part in the lives of my patients.  I saw both men and women for a multitude of problems surrounding sex, including infidelity and venereal disease amongst many others.  It seems that, while men still desire Madonna in the kitchen and the whore in the bedroom, women eventually tire of playing whore and retire to a life of being a Madonna.  What blows my mind is that this has been going on since at least 79 AD and we civilized beings still haven’t cum up with a solution.  (Oops, naughty me, a misspelled word?)

There are a few places in the United States where whore houses are legal.  Legal means regulated with set healthcare standards and requirements for appropriate safe sex practices (Do you think there should be is a sign in the bathroom, “ALL WORKERS MUST WASH THEIR HANDS .. BEFORE GOING BACK TO WORK?”)  Legalizing whoring would also help put an end to sex trafficking.  There are countless illegal brothels and massage studios nationwide that are unregulated and potentially dangerous.

Whoring is legal in Amsterdam. Best Brothels in Amsterdam 2020 is an interesting read.  The author states, “The majority of girls appear intelligent, well-educated and confident. Talk to them like you would any other woman their age (possibly your intellectual superior). What’s your name? Where are you from? How long have you worked here? These establish a dialogue. Be interested in the answers.”

Of interest is that, while 4 out of 10 US marriages end in divorce, the Netherlands  (brothels are legal) divorce rate is only 1 out of 100.  I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t know why the divorce rate is so much lower in the Netherlands but I would like to believe it is because both men and women have an outlet where their sexual frustrations can be met.

At this point, I’ve probably upset a few readers.  That is not my intent. I’m happily married and content in my old age but there are many people who are not.  There are many individuals whose only outlet is the Internet and the Internet is not safe. 

From Psychology Today:  Porn Addiction

“Pornography use is a widespread means of dealing with one’s sexual drives. More than 90 percent of young men report watching porn videos with some regularity, particularly in the United States. Many of these videos depict acts that they might never engage in themselves—in other words, erotic fantasies.”

“On Pornhub, the world’s largest porn website, alone, well over 90 billion videos are viewed daily by more than 64 million visitors, 26 percent of them female. Although viewing erotica is nearly ubiquitous among males, some men and women regard watching internet porn as pathological and believe that time spent doing so may be a sign of “porn addiction,” although such a diagnosis is rejected by many psychologists, as are treatment approaches based on addiction models.”

Others believe porn addiction exists. As reported by Fox news,  “According to Men’s Health, the World Health Organization now recognizes porn addiction as a behavioral disorder. Dubbed Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD), the condition is defined as “a persistent pattern of failure to control intense, repetitive sexual impulses or urges resulting in repetitive sexual behavior.” Oh no, I’ve got CRS and CSBD.  Poor Renee!

Do you think whoring should be legalized in the US?  My bet, 80% of men say yes and 90% of women say NO! Of thee 20% od men who vote no, 80% are probably lying.  Do you think my readership is going to increase?  We shall see.

Here’s your joke for the day:

I can’t believe that you’ve been visiting prostitutes for sex, my wife screamed at me. I’m really disappointed.

You can hardly blame me, I answered. It’s not like I was getting any from you.

Well, that’s your own fault, she replied. You never told me you were willing to pay for it.

Here’s another:

How many prostitutes does it take to screw in a light bulb?

I have no idea. I did hire four prostitutes once, but we did other stuff.

And another:

I’ve dedicated my entire life to getting prostitutes off the streets.

For an hour or so each day.

SEX PART 6

It’s time to write about SEX again as my readership has fallen off.  SEX is an uncomfortable topic for most people I know. Sure, men joke about not getting enough; but when, as doctor, I asked them about it, they clammed up.  It’s great fodder for jokes of every kind.

Practices once considered to be taboo are now considered normal and displayed everywhere.  If you watch TV, you know that every show has at least one gay and one lesbian couple.  We’ve come a long way from the closet to the stage.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the closet door has opened and no one has to hide his/her love any longer.  I’m glad the world has normalized being gay or lesbian but do we have to see it on every show?

Do you know what LGBTQ stands for?  If not, it is:  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning.  Over the years, I treated patients who fell within the parameters of each group.  Most of the time, they hid their sexuality from others out of fear.  They feared being ostracized, physically attacked, fired or worse.  They had good reason to hide.  Society has a way of subjecting its morals on others and outliers always take the brunt of society indignation.

Now, I’m no expert on the topic of sexuality.  I’m just pandering to my readers and writing about SEX to boost my ratings.  But, ask yourself a question.  Why does my readership triple when I mention sex?  It’s probably because no matter how open or closeted we are about SEX, it is the one topic we all can’t get enough of.  It’s also the one place people are the most uncomfortable.  Why is that?  Is it because of our puritanical past?  Because of what religions have labeled as “sins”? Or is ti because we no longer know what’s normal and what is not normal.

What is normal?  That’s easy to answer.  Normal is what you do alone or with your loved one(s).  Therefore, abnormal is what others do that is different from you.  The operative word is different.  Since the beginning of time, difference in groups of humans has been the justification for war and atrocities.  The world has been at war with the LGBTQ community because they have been perceived as different ,and they have suffered.

I asked a question before.  Do we have to see LGBTQ on every show?  The answer is yes.  If the LGBTQ community is ever really going to get free of the closet, society has to recognize and accept that they are NORMAL.  It’s time!  Many are concerned with the effects seeing openly gay and lesbian couples on TV is going to have on our children.  Hopefully, their generation will no longer use the acronym, LGBTOQ but instead see these people as normal members of our society.

Here’s your jokes for the day:

What does one saggy boob say to the other saggy boob?

If we don’t get some support, people will think we’re nuts.

How do you make your girlfriend scream during sex?

Call and tell her about it.

What’s the difference between a G-spot and a golf ball?

A guy will actually search for a golf ball.

A priests asks the convicted murderer at the electric chair.

”Do you have any last requests?”

”Yes,” replies the murderer.

”Can you please hold my hand?”

ACCEPTANCE

Which statement is correct:

  1. No pain, no gain
  2. Pain, no gain

I used to think I knew the answer.  I told my older patients that the correct answer was number 2: pain, no gain.  Now, I’m not as sure.  Pain, no gain is partially responsible for my current condition.  To avoid more pain, I avoided exercise. 

Right now, I’m in pain!  As I’ve already told you, I’ve enrolled in “Rock Steady” (a Parkinson’s exercise program).  This is Parkinson’s Awareness Month and there are all kind of events scheduled.

Personally, I’m aware of Parkinson’s every day from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed.  I’m also aware of the effects of degenerative arthritis, depression and obesity. I’ve finally ACCEPTED my problems and I’m actively fighting all three at once. My Rock Steady class is my best weapon.  I exercise 3 times a week in class and the rest of the week, at exercise at home.  Exercise hurts.

So, back to my initial question.  I have pain this am in my knees. Yesterday, I worked on being able to get onto and off of the floor. I know it sounds easy (even a toddler can do it) but it isn’t.  I didn’t succeed.  Tomorrow, I’ll work on it again.   Getting on and off the floor is critical as Parkinson’s patients, me included, tend to fall a lot.

I work with two instructors. They are excellent.  They give you tasks to complete and work with you to help you succeed.  They advise that you work at your own pace, rest when needed.  I’ve had five six sessions and am frustrated by the fact that I have worsened with each session.  I doubt I’ll even attempt getting on the floor in tomorrow’s session.

It seems that the “no pain, no gain” approach is going to fail as did the “pain no gain”.  What’s a guy to do?  The obvious answer is to quit exercising.  That’s also the wrong answer. So, I’ll keep exercising and look for a less painful midground.

The lesson for today is not whether number one or number two is correct.  The lesson for today is about ACCEPTANCE.  Until I accepted my disability/illness, there was nothing to fight, nothing to understand, nothing to learn about and, certainly, nothing I could do about it.

With acceptance comes a host of possibilities, Rock Steady and deep brain stimulation are the two I’m focusing on currently.  Hopefully, research will find even better options in the future.

Over the next few days, I’m going to hit you up for donations to the Michael J Fox’s Parkinson’s Foundation.  They need funds to continue to explore treatments for Parkinson’s.  There will be a Parkinson’s event in your area this month; please join in.

Here’s your joke for today:

A general is being driven in a jeep through the desert on the way to a training exercise. Out in the middle of nowhere, the jeep breaks down. The female jeep driver jumps out, opens the hood and starts working on the engine. The general, wanting to be helpful, finds a toolbox in the back and opens it. “Do you want a screwdriver?” he asks. “Might as well, it’s going to be a while before anyone shows up,” she says!

OOPS

Yep, occasionally things happen that can only be described as “OOPS.”  The hardest part of dealing with oops is not laughing.  Sometimes, you just can’t stop the laugh. 

So, what’s an oops?  In residency, I had a big oops.  I was zapping a bunch of skin tags on a patient’s neck.  The nurse would spray a topical anesthetic on the tag and I would destroy it with a hyfrecator (electric cautery).  The patient was large-breasted and the topical anesthetic (very cold liquid liquid) was dripping into her cleavage.  The nurse, trying to prevent the freezing liquid from irritating the patient’s breast, held a 4×4 gauze pad in between her breasts.  As it turned out, the anesthetic was flammable; and, once saturated, the 4×4 went poof.  The momentary flare singed the patient’s eyebrows and hair. This oops was not laughable although the look on my boss’s face was.  Can you imagine telling your boss, “I just blew up the patient in room one?”

A 62-year-old, hard of hearing, female presented for a pelvic.  As the nurses brought her back to the room, she emitted a steady barrage of farts.  She couldn’t hear them so she thought they were silent.  Everyone in the lobby was giggling.  The nurse set her up for a pelvic; and, with me sitting at ground zero, she let a huge one fly.  I was sure it would measure on the Richter Scale even though the patient ignored it.  Anyway, the nurse tried to hold back her laughter but failed.  Laughter can be infectious and I started, followed by the patient.  Being thorough, the next thing to do was a breast exam.  She was large breasted; and, under the right breast, I found ½ of an Oreo cookie.  The patient immediately said, “My grandson must have left it there.  The nurse and I had to leave the room.  We could not stop laughing.

Oops, you’re pregnant.  I was consoling the mother of four after telling her she was pregnant again.  She wasn’t planning on another kid but, while stunned, was happy.  She wanted me to break the news to her husband before she went home but first needed to check on her kids.  Her eldest child was babysitting her baby and toddler while she was in the office.  When she opened the exam room door, I knew something was wrong.  She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Oops, the baby had gotten its diaper off and painted the interior of her car with poop!

The last oops was a big one.  My billing clerk (“B”) had sent the niece of a well-known gangster to collection without discussing it with me.  Half joking, I told her to be very alert when crossing the parking lot to her car.  That afternoon, using a gruff and accented voice, I called and asked for the billing clerk by name. 

“B” you shouldn’t have sent my niece to collection.  We take care of our own.  We don’t appreciate being disrespected!   “B,” you’d better fix this now and apologize.”

Oops! “B” locked the front door and closed the office.  Everyone including “B” laughed for weeks once I owned up to the joke.

Practicing medicine can be incredibly stressful.  Medical mistakes happen.  People die despite excellent care.  Humor helps relieve some of the stress.  As a chronically ill patient, I find that humor is often more effective at alleviating depression and pain than pills.  On the one hand, doctors are supposed to be professionals and act like professionals.  On the other, docs are human; and, using magic or a fart machine to lighten the mood is just what the doctor ordered.

My patients appreciated the humor.  If they didn’t, they left me for a more archetypical doc. When I didn’t have a firm diagnosis, I often listed “lackofsexitis” in the differential.  Lackofsexitis always lightened the mood, putting a smile on my patient’s face.

Renee, I feel tired and weak.  I think I have Lackofsexitis!  I need a treatment now before I get worse!

Here’s your joke:

A family is at the dinner table. The son asks the father, “Dad, how many kinds of boobs are there?” The father, surprised, answers, “Well, son, a woman goes through three phases. In her 20s, a woman’s breasts are like melons, round and firm. In her 30s and 40s, they are like pears, still nice, hanging a bit. After 50, they are like onions.” “Onions?” the son asks. “Yes. You see them and they make you cry.” This infuriated his wife and daughter. The daughter asks, “Mom, how many different kinds of willies are there?” The mother smiles and says, “Well, dear, a man goes through three phases also. In his 20s, his willy is like an oak tree, mighty and hard. In his 30s and 40s, it’s like a birch, flexible but reliable. After his 50s, it’s like a Christmas tree.” “A Christmas tree?” the daughter asks. “Yes, dead from the root up and the balls are just for decoration.” http://www.laughfactory.com/jokes/sex-jokes astghik

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

The AMA has consistently advised against treating friends and family.  A good summary of their rules and the thought process behind their rules can be found on Google.  As a family physician, I treated multigenerational families.  In a sense, I became part of those families, at first caring for a young couple’s babies, then their toddlers, progressing to the point of caring for the babies of the infant I cared for 25 years prior.  In the 34 years I practiced medicine, I cared for families that included great grandparents, grandparents, their sons and daughters and their grandchildren.

Notice the word “caring” in the sentence above.  Caring is what it is all about; and, if you genuinely care for your patients, then eventually they become friends or even family by choice.  So, do you fire your patient because he/she has melded you into their family?  Of course not! 

Surely, knowing the entire family history and how injury or disease affects not only the patient but his/her significant others gives the family physician a distinct advantage over other specialists.  In turn, the family knowing their physician through multiple interactions gives the family and its individual members the trust they need to respond in dire times and difficulty situations.

Don’t get me wrong.  Treating family and friends does pose special problems but a well-trained physician should be able to deal with those instances.  A few examples will help you understand my stance on the AMA’s position.

I’ve known family “A” for years.  I care for their parents and their children.  I bump into the wife (”W”) at Costco and we spend a few minutes catching up on life.  I haven’t seen “W” as a patient in 6 months but she has been in multiple times with the children.  I note that “W” is not herself.  She seems a bit anxious and guarded which is distinctly different from her usual affable demeanor.

Me – “W,” what’s wrong?

W –  Nothing.

Me – You don’t seem yourself today.  Is everything at home ok?

W – Everything is fine.

Me – I’m glad everything is fine.  You know you can talk to me about anything if you need to.

I got a call that afternoon.  She thought about it and decided to share what was happening.  She did not want any information shared with her husband and I assured her it would not be.  She had a sexual problem and felt her gyne was ignoring it.  She wanted an internal exam; and, since we were kinda friends/family, she didn’t want to put me in an awkward position.  I reassured her and she came in for an exam.  Problem solved.

The husband called me that afternoon to pump me for information.  He called me “Stu” which was a tipoff that he was going to play the friend/family card.  He was upset that I would not divulge any information but quieted when I reminded him that I held my patient’s information to be every bit as sacred as a priest did in the confessional.  I knew he was a devote Catholic and that the comparison to a priest’s responsibilities would win the day.

Had I not known her well enough to pick up on the subtle changes associated with her fear of illness, her diagnosis and treatment would have been delayed.  Had she not felt comfortable with me in my physician role, she would have gone untreated.  One of her concerns was the fact that she needed an internal and how that would affect our friendship/family relationship.

In life, each of us wears many hats.  When I put on my doctor’s hat, I go into doctor mode.  In doctor’s mode, an internal is no different than a throat swab.  The trick is getting the patient to understand that fact.  When patients become friends/family, they get to see the transition from Stewart the jokester, foodie, family man to Doc, the caring, serious diagnostician. 

Story number two involves a 60 some year-old female in for her pap smear.  Her doc had just retired and she was looking for a new doc.  I had been taught to talk my way through an internal; and, before doing her rectal exam I asked, “have you ever had a problem with the rectal part of the exam?”  Her answer was an emphatic NO and that no one had ever done a rectal on her and no one ever would. 

I was blown away!  Her lifelong gynecologist was one of my best teachers and Dr. “K” taught his students to do rectal exams on all patients who were in for their annuals.  I talked with Dr. “K” a few weeks later and he reassured me that his notes were accurate and rectals had been done but never discussed.  The difference was obvious: “K” had a long-term trusted relationship that allowed him to do what he needed to do without informed consent and I didn’t.

What has being retired due to illness taught me about treating family and friends?  Story number three:

On the day I was discharged from inpatient PT, a longtime patient (I’ll call him LTP) called asking if there was anything Renee or I needed.  My usual request is for a 40-year old red headed nurse and he said he would find one.  I was joking; he was not.  He called several times over the next week and we finally decided that he would pick me up at rehab (giving Renee an afternoon off) and we would go to lunch.  We had a blast.  Turns out that he was funny as could be; and, if not for the AMA rules, we would have been lifelong social friends.  I have thanked God for LTP on a regular basis.

While I treated friends, I rarely socialized with them.  I often ducked dinner invites and other offers including a villa in Greece.  I shouldn’t have!  My life would have been richer had I socialized with my patients.  I should have taken Renee to Greece when I was whole.

My advice to future physicians is to ”care” for and about their patients; and, if that caring relationship leads to friendship, then accept it as long as you can maintain appropriate barriers when needed.  As far as treating immediate family, who better to know their history, personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Make sure they know who to see if they are uncomfortable seeing you and that you have adequate referral sources should you be uncomfortable seeing them. 

For those of you who believe that you will not treat family, wait for that 3 am fever and abdominal pain and see how strong your convictions really are!   I bet you’ll treat them rather than awaken the doc  on call.

Here’s your joke:

A woman playing Golf hit a man nearby. He put his hands together between his legs, fell on the ground & rolled around in pain. She rushed to him & offered to relieve his pain as she was a Doctor.

Reluctantly, he agreed. She gently took his hands away. Unzipped his pants & put her hands inside. She massaged him tenderly for a few minutes & asked: “How does it feel?” He replied: “Feels great but I still think my thumb is broken.”

And my favorite:

I went to the doctor and he said, “Don’t eat anything fatty.”

I asked, ” No bacon? No burgers?!”

To which he replied, “No, Fatty, just don’t eat anything! “

THE HARD WAY

Yesterday, I learned a valuable lesson.  I should have learned it in medical school.  Since they never teach you how it feels to be a patient, you would think that I would have learned it from observing my patients during the 34 years I practiced medicine.  I didn’t!

In medical school and in practice, we learned that treating patients with medications carried significant risk.  We were taught that it was our duty to review those risks with the patient prior to giving them the medication.  We were taught the risks of surgery and other interventions as well.  We were taught to discuss benefits and risks of almost everything we do.  We should have been taught that everything we do has an impact.

We learned that tests had consequences and to look for false positives and false negatives.  Shoot, just coming to my office carried risk (I might uncover something you didn’t want known).  So, what am I talking about?

When my mother came to live with us, it became apparent that her memory was failing.  I shared my concerns with her and sent her for Neuropsych testing.  I explained that Neuropsych testing was a 4hour exam (quoting google) “to understand cognitive strengths and weaknesses, neuropsychological testing (further) evaluates:

Attention and concentration

Verbal and visual memory

Auditory and visual processing

Visual spatial functioning

Language and reading skills

Sensory development and sensory integration

Gross and fine motor development

Social skill development

Executive functioning

Emotional and personality development”

What I didn’t take into account in my ordering the test was the amount of anxiety such an awesome test could provoke.  I didn’t take into account how worried a patient might be coming out of the test and waiting for the results.  I didn’t know because, despite having ordered hundreds of Neuropsych evals, I had never had one.  She had to wait 3 weeks for her results!  Knowing her the way a son knows his mother, those must have been horrible weeks.

I had forgotten how bad test anxiety could be!  I rediscovered that anxiety over the last few weeks.   I was going to take a test that would compare me to my peers and uncover my weaknesses.  Had I known what I now know, I would have done a better job at preparing my mother and my patients for what was to come.  At the very least, I would have asked my patients how they felt about taking such a test.

The doc responsible for interpreting my test did an excellent job at describing the test and how it is graded.  She explained that the test was meant to establish a baseline on which any future changes could be evaluated.  She explained that nobody gets 100% right.  She explained that my results would be compared to the results of my peer group and she would review them with me in 1 week.

If my peer group is comprised of chimpanzees, I did great!  Seriously, I came out of that test feeling like I was an idiot. The examiner said, “I’m going to give you a list of numbers and I want you to repeat them in reverse order.  Ready?  Six, nine, seven, eight, one, four, nine, seven, five, six, one, one, two.  Now repeat those number in reverse order.”  I’m sure someone can remember all those numbers and reverse them, but I can’t.  The more tasks I couldn’t complete the more my testing anxiety increased.  Eventually, my mouth went dry, my brain froze and my performance worsened.

I’m sure my peer group went through the same phenomena.  I’m sure my mother did as well.  I bet she came out of the test thinking she had Alzheimer’s.  I did, at least, until my memory came back online and I remembered all the times as a youth when I came out of an exam thinking I had failed it and instead aced it.

The moral of the story is simple.  Doctors are taught to think as doctors.  What if doctors were taught to think as patients as well? I think they would be much better as doctors if they understood the effects they and their tests had on patients.  I know I would have been.  I know that, having been through this experience and the myriad of experiences I’ve had since becoming a chronically ill patient, I would have spent far more time preparing my patients for this test and its aftermath.  Oops, I’m playing “woulda, coulda shoulda” game (click on the underlined words) again.

In this case, the “woulda, coulda shoulda” game that I have cautioned some many mothers against has a purpose.  I think that an integral part of a doctor’s education should involve learning the patients’ point of view.  This blog will eventually become a book designed to give doctors and patients alike1 a unique view of chronic illness, a view born from my long tenure as a doctor and my newfound view as a patient with an ongoing, neurodegenerative disease.

Now for my daily joke:

I’m not saying my ex is fat…

But my memory foam mattress took a year to forget her.

I’m including the following joke because, just the mention of sex, increases my readership:

Did you know too much sex can cause memory loss?

I read that in a medical journal on page 34 at 3:23 pm last year on Wednesday November the 7th.

FEAR

Losing your motor skills is not so bad as long as you still have your brains.  It’s your brain that makes you who you are!  I watched too many patients vacate their bodies due to the onslaught of Alzheimer’s.  The big “A” leaves behind an empty shell that only serves to torture its loved ones with memories of who once inhabited it. 

One of the things Parkinson’s can do to its victims is steal their brains.  I’ve been joking a lot about CRS (can’t remember shit).  In your 70s, CRS is prevalent.  It’s also relatively harmless.  So how do you know if you have CRS or another form of dementia?  Most of the time, you wait and see.

Neuropsych testing can uncover early dementia.  In order to be assessed for DBS (deep brain stimulation), an advanced form of treatment for Parkinson’s, you need to have a complete battery of neuropsych testing.  I’m being tested this am.  The problem is that I don’t want to know if I’m losing it!

I’ve been planning on eventually developing dementia.  I’ve been recording on paper who I am so that, one day, my grandchildren and their kids can get to know me.  I need to put it on paper now before it disappears.  Hope for the best but plan for the worst is my motto.

Dementia is the worst!  Unfortunately, our society thinks keeping an empty shell alive long after its brain is gone is the right thing to do.  I don’t!  I witnessed what appears to be a never-ending death as patient after patient gets shipped to the memory unit of a local nursing home.  The patient is not allowed to finish dying and the family can’t finish mourning for their loved one. 

Sometimes I think we are in heaven and there is a hell.  I think the memory unit and hell are the same place.  I watched my father sit at the kitchen table looking through a phone book for his parents’ phone number.  If you asked him what he was doing, he said he was calling his parents, he wanted them to pick him up and take him home!  My mother meant well!  She kept his shell alive, blocking every attempt he made to go home (die).

I want to die before the only part left of me is a gargantuan shell.  So, am I afraid of today’s test?  You can be damn sure I am.! Do you have to worry that I may take my own life if the results are bad?  Absolutely not!  I’ve got more to write and things to do.  Just promise me that, when its’s time, you’ll let me go home to a place where I can be whole again.  By the way, I don’t want 40 virgins to greet me at heaven’s gate.  I prefer 40 very experienced versions of Renee!

Now you could use a joke (or is it?). 

An elderly couple had dinner at another couple’s house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen.

The two gentlemen were talking, and one said, ‘Last night we went out to a new restaurant and it was really great.  I would recommend it very highly.”

The other man said, ‘What is the name of the restaurant?’

The first man thought and thought and finally said, ‘What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love?

You know…. The one that’s red and has thorns.’

‘Do you mean a rose?’

‘Yes, that’s the one,’ replied the man. He then turned towards the kitchen and yelled, ‘Rose, what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?’

EVERYDAY

Is it a blessing or is it a curse?  I truthfully don’t know.  I was talking to my brother tonight and he commented that everyday was the same as the day before.  He’s retired and recovering from a stroke.  He’s also got a great attitude. He wakes up every day, tells Martha that he’s still there and is happy with his new daily routine.  Like Renee, Martha has taken on most of Alan’s former responsibilities.  He married well.

If Alan can be happy with his new life and deficits, why can’t I?  Like Alan, I wake up every morning blessed to have Renee and the children, yet that doesn’t seem to be enough.  Happiness is a choice.  Obviously, my brother chooses to be happy.  As hard as I try to choose happy, I can’t get comfortable with my deficits.

I discovered part of the problem today.  Channel 3 News filmed my Rock Steady session today.  I realized that, of the 12 Parkinsonian participants working out in the gym, I was the last to complete every task.  I’m used to excelling and can’t stand lagging behind the group.  Still, Alan rose to the top of his profession and was a perfectionist much of his life.  Why can’t I be like him?  I don’t know.

I tell myself that I know where my Parkinson’s is going to take me.  Maybe that’s why I can’t stay happy for long.  I also know that no one knows what tomorrow holds for them.  I know that trying to live in the future is fruitless and causes anxiety so why do I waste time thinking about the future?  Again, I don’t know.  I know I should be happy.  I have great new friends in my sunny new neighborhood and live in a comfortable new handicapped equipped house.  So why can’t I choose happy?

I’m blessed with best friends from childhood.  I’ve got you guys, my readers.  Why aren’t I happy?  Is it the loss of my practice of medicine?  I think perhaps that’s the answer.  If it is, I’ve got to get over it!  While I idealized the medical world I lived in, I knew that it was changing; and I hated the changes.  I was not a “provider” and did not want to become one. I was a doctor (also known as a dinosaur).  I would have hated the Telemed that has become prevalent since the onset of Covid.

For sure, the fact that I’m Renee’s burden plays a role.  We pledged to be there for each other “in sickness and in health.”  Boy, did she get a bum deal.  When you are young and in love, you really can’t imagine what sickness really is.  If I can choose happy and maintain it, it will lessen her burden.  I choose happy.

So, my full-time job now is to work on my Blessings List and be like my big brother.  I choose happiness!  Now all I have to do is keep my head out of future thought and live as best I can in the present!  And follow my brother’s example.

My daily jokes start the day off with a laugh.  Here’s today’s.

What do you do if your wife starts smoking? “Slow down and possibly use some lubricant.”

How do you find a blind man on a nude beach?

. . .it’s not hard.