RIPPED OFF

Ripped off and pissed!  Embarrassed! Guilty! Ashamed! Trapped! Taken advantage of! Scared! These are some of the emotions I’m dealing with tonight!  Let me explain.  My Parkinson’s is getting worse rapidly.  I “freeze” meaning that my legs won’t obey my brain’s command.  It’s like I’m cemented to the floor.  It lasts a variable amount of time and can be embarrassing.  Imagine you have to go to the bathroom (really bad) and you freeze half the way there. Oops!

Now imagine that there is a new formulation of a very old medication that can help.  Rather than swallow a pill, you inhale its contents; and, within 10-20 minutes, the freezing goes away (for 2-3 hours).  What would you be willing to pay for it?  Would you believe that my copay for this new formulation of an old compound is $1240.00 dollars for 60 capsules.  Yep, $1240 for less than 1 month of medication.  Now you understand why I feel ripped off! 

Let’s talk about the other emotions:

  1.  Embarrassed – I was a paid consultant to Pharma for many years.  I sat on several national physician/Pharma boards and fought for lower prices for meds, less TV advertising, and better access to medications for those who couldn’t pay for it.  I’m embarrassed to say I accomplished nothing and may have actually added to the cost of pharmaceuticals (they paid us well).
  2. Guilty- Yep, I was paid well.  Afterall, my opinions were valuable.  I thought Pharma were the good guys and was proud to work with them. In time, I learned how wrong I was.  They are in the business of making a profit and they are very good at it!  Unfortunately, there are no limits to the amount they can charge; and the sick and elderly either pay or die.
  3. Ashamed – I should have realized who I was dealing with earlier.  I gave out a lot of samples and those samples led to the prescribing of “brand named” products at inflated prices.  Samples cost society a lot of money!  Generics save money.  They also don’t advertise, don’t hire physician consultants and don’t have a fleet of sales reps pushing their products.
  4. Trapped – I either pay $1200 plus or wet myself.  By the way, adult diapers are expensive as well.  Yes, the company that makes my new medication offers discount coupons.  Did you know that Medicare does not allow seniors (covered by Medicare) to use any discount programs?  Yep, you heard me right.  When your government talks about controlling the cost of medications, I laugh. Not only have they failed to control Pharma, but they’ve guaranteed that retired elders have to pay the full, inflated cost of their medications.  By doing so, they have guaranteed that Pharma will thrive for many years to come.
  5. Taken advantage of – I think this emotion is self-explanatory.  Why hasn’t Congress done something about the price gouging policies of Pharma?  Pharma is one of the largest contributors to political campaigns; and, rather than count on drug reps to sell their goods, they fund lobbyists!
  6. Scared – Do the math. The cost of living with Parkinson’s just went up between $14,880 to $30,000 a year for just one of my many medications. Diapers are not that expensive after all!

Anyone want to bet on Biden tackling Pharma?   If so, let me know.  I could use the money.

Here’s your joke for the day:

There was an old guy who took suppositories as a medication daily. One day he went to a restaurant with his wife, she said, “What is a suppository doing in your ear.” The old man says, “OH! Now I know where my hearing aids are!”

OLD MAN

You know you’re an old man when your wife says “HONEY” in that special way and you’re disappointed that she wants sex rather than to let you know dinner is ready.

You know you’re an old man when every time you hear water running you have a sudden urge to pee.

You know you’re an old man when you aim at the toilet and hit everything but the toilet.

You know you’re an old man when you know where every bathroom between home and wherever you are going is located.

You know you’re an old man when you pee before leaving the house and again in 20 minutes.

You know you’re an old man when you hear the name Starbucks and you think, “They have a clean men’s room.”

You know you’re an old man when your wife says, “Let’s stop at Bed Bath and Beyond and you think, “bathroom to right of front door.”

You know you’re an old man when having fun means taking a nap.

You know you’re an old man when you pass on making love in favor of an extra nap.

You know you’re an old man when making love takes 30 seconds and goes like this: “Honey, I love you.” ” I love you too, now go to sleep.”

You know you’re an old man when your neighbor complains that your snoring is keeping him awake.

You know you’re an old man when you put on your CPAP mask and night guard and pretend that your call sign is Maverick.

You know you’re an old man when you can’t find anything without the help of your wife, and that includes your penis.

You know you’re an old man when you can’t remember your best friend’s name, and neither can he.

You know you’re an old man when your shirt looks like a culinary record of everything you’ve eaten this week.

You know you’re an old man when you brag about the dump you had this morning.

You know you’re an old man when you worry about not having a dump this morning.

You know you’re an old man when you can’t figure out how to turn the sink on in the men’s room or get the towel dispenser to give you a towel but your grandson can.

You know you’re an old man when farts seem to just appear out of nowhere and you don’t give a shit.

You know you’re an old man when you actually give a little shit with the leaking fart.

You know you’re an old man when you are afraid to laugh because you might pee.

You know you’re an old man when your bucket list has been replaced by a fuck-it list.

You know you’re an old man when every time you open a book and start reading, you fall asleep.

I know I’m an old man when I fall asleep 3 times while writing this blog.

And finally, you know you’re an old man when a happy ending is a good night’s sleep!

Here’s your daily joke:

Tom, Mike and Johnny are sitting around the breakfast table having coffee.

Tom says, “Oy, life’s a bitch.  I wake up every morning and sit on the throne for an hour, straining to take a dump.  All I get are these little rat turds.  It’s miserable being constipated.”

Mike says, “I don’t have any problem taking a dump. However, it takes me an hour to piss.  Start, stop, dribble and repeat.”

Johnny says, “I don’t have any problems taking a dump or peeing.  I just do both an hour before I wake up!”

PYRAMID

I was watching a movie last night in which the hero seriously upsets his lover.  In his apology, he states, “I didn’t know what I didn’t know.”  What a powerful statement!  We live in a world where everybody is an expert.  People surf the internet, assimilate what they read and then go out and regurgitate their knowledge in the form of strongly stated opinions disguised as fact.

Since their opinions carry truths backed up by Google searches, they stand by them and freely share them with whomever will listen.  Since everyone is an expert and everyone assimilates his/her set of facts, conversations can become quite heated and deteriorate into arguments as each expert is sure he/she is right.  The result is our society becomes more polarized than ever.

The most important lesson of my career as a doctor was entitled, “The Pyramid of Knowledge”. At the top of the pyramid, occupying the smallest part of the triangle, is what you know. The next portion of the triangle is what you know that you don’t know. At the base, occupying the largest part of the triangle, is what you don’t know that you don’t know.  It’s what you don’t know that you don’t know is the segment that is most likely to hurt you and others.

One of the goals in life is to increase what you know.  It’s the primary purpose of education.  I had thousands of hours of study and lectures under my belt prior to practicing medicine (augmented by 38 years of practicing medicine).  Despite my MD degree and knowledge base, there are things associated with new vaccines that I don’t know that I don’t know.  In time, I’ll learn more as more vaccine is given.  One of many examples is:  when the measles vaccine was approved for use, there were things we didn’t know about it.  Now, after years of use, I can tell you everything about it.  I can say the same thing about all my vaccines. During my career, I can only remember one vaccine that was withdrawn from the market after initial approval.

“I didn’t know what I didn’t know” is a powerful statement!  The next time you find yourself in a conversation that is heating up, hit the pause button and ask yourself, “Do you know what you don’t know (does he/she know what they don’t know?”  The next time you find yourself believing that you are an internet expert in law, medicine, politics, etc., remind yourself that you probably don’t know what you don’t know and guard against the unknown as best you can.  You have a right to your opinion!  Your opinion is important.  Don’t forget that your opinion may not be fact.  Consider that there may be things you don’t know about the subject you’re discussing.  When it comes to medical facts, rely on your doctor.  A good doc knows what she/he doesn’t know and knows where to find it.

Here’s your joke for the day:

A man wonders if having relations on the Sabbath is a sin because he is not sure if doing so is work or play, so he goes to a priest and asks for his opinion on this question. After consulting the Bible, the priest says, “My son, after doing exhaustive research, I am positive that sleeping together is work and is therefore not permitted on Sundays.” The man thinks: “What does a priest know about having relations?” So, he goes to a minister who, after all, is a married man and experienced in this matter. He queries the minister and receives the same reply. Sexual relations is work and therefore not for the Sabbath! Not pleased with the reply, he seeks out a Rabbi, a man of thousands of years of tradition and knowledge. The Rabbi ponders the question, then states, “My son, it is definitely play.” The man replies, “Rabbi, how can you be so sure when so many others tell me it’s work?” “Because, my son,” said the Rabbi drily, “if having relations was work, my wife would have the maid do it.”

https://www.ba-bamail.com/jokes/religion-jokes/?jokeid=1411

SANDBOX

What happened to sandboxes?  When I was a kid, my neighbor had a large sandbox and we played in the sand for years. Occasionally, we would start at 8 a.m. and quit when our moms called us in for dinner.  We dug tunnels and built roads with our Tonka trucks.  As we grew older, the sandbox became a war zone.  We had an army of plastic warriors protected by tanks, troop carriers and planes.  Of course, we built model planes, trucks, ships, etc.  In our teens, loaded with M80s and cherry bombs, we had a blast blowing it all up.

Sandboxes were easy to build and inexpensive.  We played outside; and, instead of having gigabytes of memory and computer-generated images, we used our own brains and creativity.  What happened to sandboxes? What happened to playing outside?  What happened to using our own creative minds?

Obviously, computer games have captured and taken our children hostage.  They still play outside but their “outside” is inside a computer screen or television screen.  Their parents try to limit their screen time and get them involved in outside activities.  Limiting their screen time usually leads to a fight.

My parents never tried to limit my time in the sandbox.  Quite the contrary, my mom would say, “Why don’t you go over to Harris’s house and play in the sandbox.”  I gladly went out.  I’ve got to admit, I often fought coming home at dinner time.  Like all kids, I bargain for “just a few more minutes.”

I was pleased to see sandboxes are still sold and that Amazon has a large selection.  Now, I just have to convince today’s parents that playing in the sand is preferable to playing with an iPad.

Did you have a sandbox?  Do you have fond memories of playing in the sand?  Do your children or grandchildren have sandboxes?  If you didn’t have a sandbox, did you build sandcastles at the beach?

Here’s today joke:

A married couple is lying in bed.

The wife leans over and says, “I want you to say dirty things before we start”. So, the man starts to caress her neck and whispers to her. “Living room, Bathroom, Kitchen”.

HEARING PROBLEMS?

Are you old and hard of hearing?  Is your vision decreasing with age?  Do you have any other handicaps? If you’ve answered any of the above questions with a yes, then keep reading.

By law, there are handicapped parking, handicapped equipped bathrooms, hotel rooms, entrances and exits from buildings, etc.  Handicapped accommodations make my life much easier and safer.  I am thankful that Congress has recognized the handicapped’s need for help and provided it.

Today, I want to propose that the handicapped laws be expanded to cover one additional area.  Today, I called the customer service line of a major insurance company.  The phone was answered by a soft- spoken agent, speaking rapidly in broken English.  I had a lot of trouble understanding what he was saying.  My end of the conversation was, “Could you please repeat that?”  “Can you speak up?” “I can’t hear you!”  “Is there someone who speaks English?”  “Can you spell that word for me?”

Typically, Customer Service refers me to an internet site where I am bombarded with screens designed to setup my account and password protection.  Then there are forms made up of a number of fill in the blank questions and free type boxes.  God forbid if you don’t have email.  Without email access, you end up trying to communicate with another individual speaking broken English. You are really up the creek if you speak in broken English.

           Unfortunately, my typing skills have diminished with age, arthritis and Parkinson’s.  Usually, I go to the Customer Service internet site prior calling and call only if I can’t resolve the problem online or it is too confusing to be navigated.

Now imagine you’ve called Customer Service and are at the first choice point: dial one for English or3 dial two for Spanish.  My proposal is to add a third option: dial three if you are hard of hearing. Pushing number three would take you to a panel of customer service agents who specialize in communicating with the hearing impaired. Other disabilities could be addressed on the internet by employing programs designed for those with visual handicaps.

If you agree with my basic premise, share this article with your family, friends, and congressional representatives.  Until the laws change, politely ask to speak to a native speaker (interpreter). 

Here’s today’s joke:

A police officer pulls over an elderly couple He walks up to the driver’s side window and asks the husband for his license and registration. The wife, hard of hearing, asks “What?! What did he say to you?” The husband replies, “He wants my license!”

The officer asks him if he knew how fast he was going.

The wife yells “What?! What did he say to you?”

The husband yells back, He says I was speeding!”

As the officer looks at the license, he notices they’re from Ohio and says, “You know, I used to live in Ohio. Worst place ever. I was seeing this woman there, and it was just miserable. She would never shut up, couldn’t cook worth shit, constantly belittled me, and the sex was just awful.”

The old lady once again yells, “What?! What did he say to you?”

The husband yells back, “He said you two used to date!”

FRUSTRATION

I’ve been working on my diet for months; and, unfortunately, I’ve had very little success.  In “Diets and Other Unnatural Acts,” which I wrote years ago, I explained why I preferred refining your own diet as opposed to conforming to someone else’s diet plan.  I was right, at least in my case.  Conforming to a “canned” diet has proven unsuccessful for me.  I was also wrong.  Refining my own diet has failed, as well.

I stated yesterday, I’ve been using food as an antidepressant.  I’ve been using food to fill the long hours of an otherwise boring retirement.  I realized that since retirement, I’ve been on a pity diet.  My pity diet has led to a fifty-pound weight gain.  Obesity sucks.

Three weeks ago, I decided I needed a radical change in my diet and some major behavioral changes.  I’ve done well!  I’ve lost 9 pounds on a modified keto diet.  Keto has not been easy.  I’ve spent a lifetime limiting fat ingestion despite the fact that I love cooking and eating fats. I haven’t abandoned my ideal, defined and refined, life diet; I’ve just put it off until I’ve lost a total of 25 pounds.

Striving to stay within the guidelines for a Keto Diet, I’ve sampled many foods that I’ve not eaten in the past.  I’ve also thrown out more food than I ever have.  One of the secrets of the Keto Diet is that many of the “Keto friendly” foods taste so bad that you want to spit them out.  While the internet will tell you that Aldi’s Keto friendly bread is the best, I’ll tell you that it is solidified sand and cardboard.  Remember, qualifying terms such as “the best” are all relative.  The best poop is still poop!  The Keto ice cream I just bought is probably made from poop.  It is a zero-calorie product (since I won’t eat it).

Obviously, to achieve permanent weight loss, I’ll have to find answers to depression, boredom, and pity.  I’ll also need to resume my Wellthy Diet, eating healthy food in appropriate quantities.  This is going to be a long-term project.

Today’s joke came out of the mouth of my 4-year-old granddaughter’s boyfriend’s mouth. 

“Mommy, is my butt-hole a poop copier?”

Which led to my asking: “Why do people hate poop jokes?  Because they kinda stink.”

DEPRESSION REVISITED

The number of my friends who suffer with depression is staggering.  The number of my former colleagues (physicians) who are depressed is also staggering!  I find myself wondering whether this is a new phenomenon or tied to Covid, politics and the media’s new role (BREAKING NEWS scrolling across our TV and computers every 15 minutes).  Whatever the cause, depression should be treated aggressively.  Unfortunately, most depressed individuals will neither admit to depression nor treat it.

Are you depressed?  I once asked a patient that very question.  Her answer was an emphatic, “NO!”  She had all the signs of depression as well as a multitude of depressing problems, yet she appeared angry that I would suggest such a diagnosis.  Her response was a typical one.  Depression is accompanied by an ancient stigma.  Admitting to depression is like admitting to a character flaw or weakness.  A diagnosis of depression can have a significant, negative impact on your career and inter-personal relationships. This particular patient was deeply entrenched in her denial.  I gave her a choice.  “Mrs P., your choice is to be depressed or insane.  Your story is so sad that it depresses me.  If you are not depressed, then you must be insane.  Any sane person I know would be depressed given your circumstances.”   She chose the diagnosis of depression and eventually accepted treatment.  (She’s doing well.)

As a physician, I can tell you that once you’ve gotten a patient to accept a diagnosis of depression, you then have to get them to accept therapy (medication, counseling, etc.)  Making the diagnosis is fairly simple.  Getting the patient to accept the diagnosis is difficult.  Getting the patient to accept help and treatment is nearly impossible.

When my doc told me I was depressed my response was, “DUH!”  Hurdle number one was easy, diagnosis made and accepted.  When she offered pills and counseling, she hit a wall. I was already on a shitload of pills with a host of side effects.  Further, I explained that I had spent 30 years counseling patients and didn’t think counseling was going to be worthwhile.  Ultimately, I gave in and started on meds and in counseling. I ended teaching the counselor.  The meds I agreed to take did not help.

What I’ve found is the best antidepressant in the world is time spent with my grandchildren and their parents.  Second best is cruising North Carolina country roads on sunny days in a convertible.  Third best on my list is eating.  Unfortunately, the side effects of eating are weight gain and obesity which then lead to more depression (in my case, anyway).  Certainly, treating the underlying disease would be helpful (if successful).  Parkinson’s is a mean adversary.  Fourth on my list of non-medicinal therapies is watching my garden grow.

In March, I’m scheduled for DBS (neurosurgery) in a final attempt to slow the ravages of Parkinson’s.  My garden guru will plant my vegetable garden and tend to it while I recover.  Renee will drive me around with the top down while I recover.  Luckily, she’s a racecar driver, taking curves at max speed and making every excursion an exciting experience.

If you are depressed, talk to your doc.  Certainly, meds and counseling can help.  What works for me may not work for you and what failed me may help you.  The important thing is being open to help.

Here’s today’s joke:

I was having issues in my personal and professional life. I hated everyone. I was on the brink of a mental breakdown and depression. I decided to see a therapist about it. The therapist suggested that I should write letters to the people I hate and then burn them. I must admit I feel much better…

But now I don’t know what to do with the letters.

PRACTICE!

I don’t understand!  What’s all the fuss about? People seems to be worried about the Covid vaccine immunization schedule.  One of the major complaints I hear frequently has to do with the number of shots required to get good immunity.  Would it surprise you if I told you that most of my vaccines started off as one shot/series and, in time, ended up as multiple shots or series of shots?

You probably don’t remember but your childhood vaccines were given on a schedule.  The DPT (diptheria, pertussis and tetanus) vaccine was given at 2, 4,6, and 18 months.  A booster was then given at 5 years of age and was supposed to confer permanent immunity.  Some years ago, the pertussis component began to fail, and a booster was added in high school. 

I “practiced” medicine for close to 40 years.  All physicians “practice” medicine!  Medical knowledge is constantly changing.  Research brings us new medicines and therapeutic interventions that offer the promise of improved performance over older treatments.  Physicians learn about and subsequently institute those new interventions and medications which promise to improve care without adding significant risk.  New treatments are followed closely once they are introduced to the public and, if problems are discovered, might be removed from the market (Vioxx) or their usage modified to account for added risk (Accutane).

Yep, as physicians, we practice with new meds and therapies; and we learn from using them.  Vioxx was an incredible pain reliever.  It was a non-steroidal, non-narcotic, anti-inflammatory medication that helped many of my patients.  It also supposedly caused significant heart disease and was subsequently removed from the market.  

Accutane is an excellent medication for the control of acne.  It causes birth defects and an assortment of other bothersome side-effects.  Due to these problems, its use has been restricted.  Women on Accutane are required to use at least two forms of birth control.  The last time I prescribed it, the patient was required to sign multiple legal documents acknowledging that he/she received and understood the informed consent documents provide to him/her.

My point is that, in both the above examples, physicians practiced with and learned from the use of new medications.  Yes, there are significant risks involved in practicing medicine.  There are also significant benefits that far outweigh the risks.  Many years ago, I was called to the ER to see a middle aged man who had been diagnosed as brain dead following a cardiac event.  I had read about a new device called an Artic Blanket and was elated to find that the ER had a brand-new Artic Blanket that had yet been used.  After discussing the diagnosis, we unwrapped the blanket, applied the new technology and said a few prayers.  Yes, this was a practice run which offered some hope.  The patient woke up the next day, went home and still is alive.

Practicing physicians should always share the risks and benefits of any treatment with you.  The process is called “informed consent.”  While I fervently believe in the process of informed consent, I hated doing it.  Why?  Informed consent often scares the patient out of doing the proposed procedure or taking my medications.  Everything carries risk!  When reviewing the risks of my upcoming DBS surgery, the surgeon discusses risks that include stroke, central nervous system infection and even death.  Without the surgery, my condition will continue to worsen.  With the surgery, my condition hopefully will improve for a while and the progression of PARKINSON’S be slowed.

Will the Covid vaccines prove to be as good as the Artic Blanket or as problematic as Vioxx.  Only time will tell.  The bulk of evidence today is strongly in favor of a 3 shot regimen and that is what Renee and I have done.

One last historical note.  Vioxx was so good at relieving pain that, despite the risk of heart disease, many of my patients would gladly buy it today, at any cost and despite any risk.

Here’s today’s joke: A man sends his wife to pick up his erectile dysfunction medication.

She gets back and they get undressed and get down to business.

The wife stops and says, “Our new pharmacist is a very nice Chinese man but talks too much politics; but don’t worry, I made sure your pills aren’t made in Russia.”

“Why would it matter if the Russians made my pills?” asked the husband.

The wife responded, Well, the pharmacist told me Russia was meddling in U.S erections.”

LIVING WILL

Wow!  This is harder than I expected.  Let me explain.  It’s time to write a living will.  I am 70 years old and live with Parkinson’s, a disease that will progressively attack my nervous system.  As Parkinson’s attacks, my abilities to walk, talk and even think will diminish.  Along with the loss of function comes a progressive loss of the quality of life.

There are treatments for Parkinson’s but all current day treatments, while restoring some abilities and quality of life, are only temporary.  In March, I am going to have a deep brain stimulator placed deep within my brain.  The surgeon will bore a whole in my skull and thread an electrode into the area that Parkinson’s affects.  The hope is that the procedure will improve the quality of my life by restoring functions previously lost.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to reduce or come off of some of my meds as well.

As with all surgical procedures, there are risks. While the risks are fairly rare, they can be devastating and include stroke, infections, bleeding and even death.  Being a physician, I fully understand the risks and consequences should something go wrong.  I also understand that, in the real world, the risk of anything going wrong is 50%.  The surgeon may tell you that statistically the procedure has a 2% chance of causing injury in the general population. However, in the individual’s case, it either will happen or will not happen (50-50).

My “why” for writing this article should now be readily apparent.  I thought that the hard part of creating a living will was already done.  I was wrong.  While I have had multiple conversations with my wife and children regarding letting me go if something adverse happens during surgery or from any other event, putting my wishes in writing is extremely difficult.  This morning I searched the internet for living wills written by physicians.  I found one helpful article. “ We should strive for a good death that occurs at the proper time and place,” by ALLEN FRANCES, MD and published on KevinMD on April 27, 2015, is worth reading.

While a document that tries to anticipate future problems and leaving instructions for each scenario is impossible, setting a goal of a “good death that occurs at the proper time and place.”   A good death occurs at home with family and friends, not in a hospital or nursing home. A good death recognizes the importance of quality of life and that death is a natural occurrence.  Fighting death is often associated with pain and suffering (tubes in every hole, respirators, nursing homes).

Families want everything possible done to salvage their loved one.  Often, the one thing loving families could but don’t do is let their loved one die a good death.  Likewise, physicians see death as an enemy to be defeated, without recognizing the damage caused by defeating their foe.

I will leave the decision making up to my wife, my children and my physicians with the understanding that, if I cannot reasonably expect to regain my independence, enjoy my family, joke about sex and cruise the back roads of North Carolina with the top down, then I want a good death.

OUR CHANGING WORLD

The world I’ve lived in for 68 years has been changed by Covid and not for the better.  Fear and anxiety have become prevalent among a large segment of our population, leading to poor sleep, agitation, and, in some cases, poor decision making.  While fear and anxiety often are negative emotions, they do confer a certain benefit on the person suffering from them.  The individual that reacts to the growling dog by becoming anxious and slowly backing away from it is more likely to survive than the individual who ignores the threat and further invades the animal’s space.

On a daily basis, I get bombarded with opinions about the Covid vaccines and treatments whether I’m interested in the conversation or not.  The avalanche of opinions come from doctors, scientists, journalists, Google (internet), neighbors, friends, and former patients, as well as from those that have become overnight experts by reading a few articles on Covid found in today’s email or CNN newsflashes.

My purpose in writing this article is not to validate any opinions on Covid and the treatment of Covid, but instead to point out one simple truth. Covid, and the subsequent fear and anxiety induced by Covid, has become the number one excuse for everything that goes wrong.

I used to tell my patients that when their doctors think they know more than the medical authorities, it’s time to find a new doc!  Well, the authorities are telling us to get immunized against Covid ASAP, to wear masks and wash your hands frequently.  While I read everything I can find on Covid, I am not an expert in infectious diseases.  After 40 years of practice, I am qualified to interpret the data and I chose to believe the authorities and follow their recommendations.

Those who fear Covid, the medical authorities and the government steadfastly refuse the vaccine, fearing its possible long-term effects.  While I believe the vaccines are safe and fairly effective, I can understand their fears.  I can’t understand their stubborn insistence on not wearing a mask.

Last week I was listening to a 50-year-old lawyer list his reasons for not getting immunized.  He stated that vaccines were often not effective and carried substantial risk. Rather than getting into a debate I couldn’t win as he was so sure of his beliefs, I simply pointed out to him that he looked awfully good for someone that had polio; he was quick to deny ever having polio.  I asked him if he remembered having mumps or measles and he emphatically denied having had both.  I quickly added that he was lucky not to have been scarred for life from having smallpox and again he stated that he was healthy with a strong immune system and never had any of the childhood illnesses that were so common in years past.

I set the trap and he fell right in!  He had avoided all the childhood illnesses that once upon a time killed and scarred children because he was immunized at a very early age.  Yes, vaccines carry some minimal risks, but those risk are overshadowed by the risk of the disease and the risk of Covid is death. 

Life is dangerous whether you live it to its fullest or hide from it, waiting until the storm passes. I suggest that you live life to its fullest while heeding the warnings and Covid protocols put forth by the world’s medical authorities.  Isolating yourself and family at home carries its own risks, both short and long-term.

I have had two primary shots of PZIZER’S vaccine as well as a booster.  I wear a mask in public even though I hate wearing it. I avoid anyone who has not been immunized.  I avoid crowds! 

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year, free from Covid.

Here’s today’s joke.

Two octogenarians are sitting at a table having lunch.  They have lunched together fo50 years:

Mrs. A – I’ve known you forever, so I hope you won’t be upset but I’m dying to ask you a question.  I’m so very embarrassed.   

Mrs. B- Don’t be silly.  You can ask me anything!

Mrs. A- What’s your name

Mrs. B- Oh, honey, don’t be embarrassed.  Can you give me a few days to think about it