Tag Archives: Medicine

My Ticking Telomere Timebomb

DNA Final

By Jack Edwards

Dr. Oz says that my telomeres are fraying, and he’s very worried about them. This “fraying” is apparently caused by stress. Sadly, now that he has alerted me to my telomere fraying problem, I have discovered a whole new level of stress.

Let me explain. Every Monday I read a column in my local paper supposedly written by Drs. Mehmet Oz and Michael Roizen. I say “supposedly,” because with Dr. Oz spending all that time in the make-up room at his television show, creatively named “The Dr. Oz Show” and with Dr. Roizen busy doing real medical work as the chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, I figure that the column is really written by one of Dr. Roizen’s third year residents, that or one of Dr. Oz’s assistant make-up artists. It takes a lot of time to knock out a weekly column. I should know, and mine doesn’t even involve any research; let me emphasize this – NO research whatsoever. In fact, all my comments here are based on a single casual reading of this week’s column in which I may have missed the entire point due a mishap of spilling a glop of cereal onto what may have been the most crucial paragraph in the column. On top of that, I was still very sleepy.

Let me further explain. My usual Monday routine involves reading the morning paper, which as I have said includes Drs. Oz and Roizens’ column, and then committing myself to following their advice for the remainder of my natural life. I hold fast to this new, deeply held commitment until lunch. Then I remind myself that I’ve lived okay so far with my habit of, for example, basing my diet on animal fat and empty junk food calories, and ask myself why I should be listening to medical advice from Dr. Oz’s assistant make-up artist anyway.

Back to telomeres. Besides being a popular children’s television show, telomeres are the “caps” on the ends of our DNA. The longer your DNA caps the better. They help you ward off ailments, including heart disease, diabetes and, as I understand it, the danger of becoming a zombie or even a vampire. (I just made up that last part for your amusement – the part of about becoming a vampire. It really does help from becoming a zombie.) These telomere caps “fray” and get shorter as you age, but, BIG PROBLEM ALERT HERE, stress can accelerate the fraying! Naturally, I figure I’m already down to the nubs.

For those of you unfamiliar with Drs. Oz and Roizens’ column, they sneakily divide it into two parts. In the first part, they scare the hell out of you telling you that you’re doing everything all wrong (like not eating enough kumquats) and that it’s unlikely you’ll survive the day, and then the second part, which always begins with the word “fortunately.” This column did not disappoint.

“Fortunately…” the column continues, and goes on to list ways to reduce stress. The list includes mediation, deep breathing, time with friends, music and what they refer to as “just chill.” (Notably absent was the suggestion that people stop reading their column.)
They explain how to do “deep breathing,” and I have to confess that I was a little disappointed by the description. You’re supposed to breathe in through your nose counting to four, and then out through your mouth slowly counting to eight. Here’s how they describe the big payoff: “You’ll instantly increase the oxygen level in your blood by up to 3 percent. Not bad!” They actually say, “Not bad!” Three percent? Honestly? It sounds really bad. Terrible, in fact.

So, after considering my options, I’m going to focus my telomere saving efforts on music and “just chill.” In fact, I’m going to make them a permanent part of my lifestyle. At least until lunch.

Whole Foods Market Answer to Xanax

Whole Foods Final

By Jack Edwards

Life can be stressful.  Thankfully, there are a number of healthful ways to combat this stress, like exercise, eating well, and taking a daily regimen of psychotropic medications.  (FDA approved, of course.)  If we can be certain of anything, we can be certain that the health of the nation is the number one priority of the pharmaceutical industry.  Gotta love those guys.  But as much as I admire the ethics and trust “Big Pharma,” as I affectionately refer to them, I recently stumbled across an alternative.  It may not be for everyone, and it may not even be less expensive, but in the spirit of providing YOU, my faithful readers with OPTIONS, I will now share my recent discovery.

There are a plethora of self-help programs out there, like the one that giant Tony Robbins is always rambling on about.  Everywhere you look people are advertising themselves as “life coaches.”  My discovery, however, has nothing to do with “life coaches.”  (Side note: “Life coach” is code for: I’m lost and confused, but maybe by helping you screw up your life and charging you an outrageous fee, I can finally find myself).  My alternative does not involve fancy programs or life coaches.  My alternative is spending quality time in Whole Foods Markets.  Not buying their produce.  Not eating at their deli.  Just walking around inside them.  I’m not sure if eating organic, sustainable food is any better for you, but I do know that the simple act of walking into a Whole Foods Market makes you feel better about yourself.  Not just as good as everybody else, it makes you feel better – better than everyone who is not shopping at Whole Foods (i.e. the so-called general population).  As you enter carrying your reusable shopping bag, suddenly your posture gets a little better.  You perk up.  You feel alive and engaged.  Try it.  But first, as before engaging in any new activity, you need to stop and take time to learn, understand and appreciate the nomenclature:

  1. Organic.  In the Latin, this translates to, “Wow, this apple has a worm hole in it the size of the Lincoln Tunnel.”
  2. Sustainable.  In the original Greek (not the modernized version), this translates roughly to: “Brace yourself, this asparagus costs four times the price as normal.”

And finally,

  1. Locally sourced.  This is a relatively new term in the American lexicon, and means, “If the cheese maker down the street needs a root canal, guess whose fettuccini alfredo just skyrocketed?”

But never mind all that.  Who can put a price on good mental health?  There is just something about eating a chicken raised in a petting zoo that makes you feel better about yourself.

So there you have it.  The Whole Foods Market alternative to Xanax.  Of course, you don’t have to use the Name Brand.  You can go with the generic:  Trader Joe’s, Nature’s Market, or Tom’s Corner Organic Healthy Stuff Market.  Consumer activists say they are just as effective.  They have the same active ingredient.  At least that’s what they say….  Or, to be on the safe side, you can just go to Whole Foods.

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The Lawyer’s Song: Navigating the legal wilderness at –

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Like a Starbucks Latte with that Heart Attack?

ER Cure

By Jack Edwards

 

A monumental problem has perplexed citizens of the United States for three decades.  That is, of course, how to find a cup of coffee for under three bucks.  But the Starbucks’ racketeering scheme is not the focus of today’s column.  Today’s column is about hospital emergency rooms.  Let’s begin by breaking down the meaning of the word Emergency. “Emer” which is Latin for, “My spleen has ruptured”, and “gency” which translates in the Greek to, “Can’t this ambulance travel any faster?!”  Every day across America, people stream into hospital emergency rooms who are desperate, in need of help, lost, and in pain.  And the cause of their distress is the hordes of patients demanding their attention.  This has resulted in average wait times of four to six months and bills that rival Nicaragua’s annual gross domestic product.  Let me triage their plight, and identify a comprehensive solution.  Here is the Dr. Edwards’ two-step cure for what ails America’s ERs:

Cure 1.  Eliminate waiting areas.  Get rid of them completely.  Lease the space to Starbucks.  If someone can survive an hour in a waiting area, there is no emergency.  It doesn’t exist.  Instruct the person to vacate the premises immediately.

Cure 2. The average emergency bill is roughly $1,500.  For this, you get a paper gown that exposes your hinny and 4.5 seconds of a bleary-eyed doctor with a vast 14 days’ of experience checking your throat and telling you to go home.  Under the Dr. Edwards’ plan, we will switch to a metered system.  The receptionist slaps an electronic meter around your neck at check-in.  Every time a nurse, doctor, or anyone wearing a smock, actually pays attention to you, they push the meter’s “on” button.  When they walk away from you, they push the “off.”  (Or….. maybe we could put a device on the staff which did this automatically?  Nooooooooo.  Nix that.  Doctors and nurses would be zigzagging around like roller skaters on the rink trying to pick up time.  We go with the neck meter).  You only pay for the attention you get.  You want to improve service?  You want to feel cared for? Medical personal will appear from the woodwork hanging on you from the second you hit the door.  Let’s just say coffee consumption and back room gossip sessions will quickly become a thing of the distant past.

There you have it.  Two simple changes.  They can be implemented as soon as we get Starbucks to lease the empty space.  Then we’ll all be able to afford those $3 coffees.

 

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Check out these great books for gifts:

The Lawyer’s Song: Navigating the legal wilderness at –

http://www.amazon.com/The-Lawyers-Song-Navigating-wilderness/dp/1608443248

Seven Rules for the College Playground at –

www.Gift4College.com

Celebrating Diversity, One Glass of Kombucha at a Time

Kombucha (2)

By Jack Edwards

My New Year’s resolution is to be more tolerant.  I am going to celebrate diversity, even if it makes me vomit.  Case in point, my sister.  I was recently helping her move some stuff out of her car when I came across a bottle filled with yellow liquid.  My first reaction: My sister has turned into one of those urine drinkers.  You have to know my sister.  She puts the “alt” in the term alternative medicine.  I confronted her with the bottle, and she gave me some cover story about it being a concoction called Kombucha.  It’s supposed to be good for your digestive track.  I told her it was okay to admit she was drinking her own urine.  I wouldn’t judge her.  I was going to celebrate diversity this year.  I told her that I might even put one of those annoying bumper stickers on my car.  But she stuck to her story.

I popped out my iPhone and asked Siri to give me the scoop on urine drinkers.  According to Wikipedia, urine may be the best thing since the discovery of aloe vera.  We should be rubbing a little behind our ears each morning.  Urine drinking has a bunch of fancy names.   (Let’s face it.  This is a tough marketing gig.  You’d better have a compelling name to cajole some poor sap into tipping back a glass of this golden elixir). They call it Urine Therapy, Urotherapy, Uropathy, or my favorite, Unrinotherapy.  (It also has an old fashioned name, which I am hesitant to mention because it might seem like I’m being intolerant – Human Waste.)  People use it for both medical and cosmetic purposes, by drinking it and massaging it into their skin.  The pleasant odor is a bonus.  You’ve got to wonder what genius decided to harness The Power of Urine.

As a non-urine drinker, I have a number of questions.  For example, how is it served? Hot like tea?  Cold?  Maybe over ice?  Is it appropriate to doctor it up a little with sugar or perhaps a sprig of mint?  What’s the lunch room etiquette?  Is it okay to pour up a frothy glass in front of coworkers?  Is it ever appropriate to offer a glass of your “homemade” others?  Someone really needs to write a book on this.  They can titled it Urine Drinking Does and Don’ts.

I’m surprised we haven’t heard from the whole recycle-reuse-renew crowd on this.  Where’s Al Gore?  You’d think they’d be jumping all over it like ticks on hound dog.

As for me, I am fully committed to celebrating our differences and keeping an open mind no matter how disgusting the idea may be.  The mere idea sickens me.  It makes me want to vomit my guts out.  But hey, this is the new millennium.  Don’t be a hater.  Keep an open mind, and celebrate these extremely uncomfortable differences.

As for my sister’s suspiciously yellow “Kombucha,” I only have one question for her: Do you drink that hot or cold?

 

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Check out these great books for gifts:

The Lawyer’s Song: Navigating the legal wilderness at –

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Seven Rules for the College Playground at –

www.Gift4College.com

John Grisham was Right

Final Fresh Nectarine!

By Jack Edwards

I offer Exhibit “A.”  Proof positive that most people don’t choose their jobs as much as their jobs choose them.  Exhibit “A” is a vocation smack atop the ‘Who in the world would chose that job?’ employment pyramid.  No, not portable toilet cleaner.  No, not North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un’s food taster.  It’s a job no high school student on this planet has dreamt of holding (yes, even the ones smoking dope behind the gym).  The job is prestigious; nonetheless, it’s often quite literally the butt of the joke.  Bingo.  You got it.  I speak of the lonely, and much maligned, proctologist.

On the first day of medical school, when the professor asks for a show of hands on the interest in various specialties – neurology, pediatrics, dermatology, do you see any hands rising for proctology?  Do you see one hand?  Is it even on the list?  Do you see one brave soul raising his hand for “other” and announcing, “Proctology, Sir”?  (Remember, each of these students is going to choose a lab partner to share a cadaver.  First impressions count.)

So when exactly does someone take the sharp bend in the road that leads to the glamour of proctology?  I have a theory.  It’s actually one I stole from John Grisham’s book, The Rainmaker.  I would like to say it was based on careful peer-reviewed research, but that would violate my policy against doing research.  I avoid this drudgery with my own brand of “research,” which I refer to as “Research-lite.”  (Yes, maybe I have been drinking too much Miller beer).  My policy is that if I can’t find an answer on my iPhone in under eight seconds (I was going to say ten, but who’s kidding whom?)  I make it up.  Try it.  It’s great.  Example – 38% of all professional baseball players drive American made cars.  (Sounds authoritative, doesn’t it?)  For all I know, 90% of them drive Yugos.  Back to my John Grisham inspired theory.  In Grisham’s The Rainmaker, a doctor tells the protagonist that one of the reasons he went into oncology was that there wasn’t much competition.  I mean how many people want to drop the Big News on one poor soul after another?  So I figure the same goes for proctology.  I’ve heard that the process of trying to land a residency in neurosurgery is practically a knife fight.  On the other hand, the proctology department is no doubt serving tea and cookies to coax students into their program.  The waiting room during interviews is probably a ghost town.

Think about it.  There are only a couple of ways for a proctologist to view the “subject” or “target” as it were, and they both require that the doctor either sit on one of those little stainless steel stools, or crouch down for a good look.  (And to think that I once quit a job because I didn’t like the view.)  Amazing.  After sweating the grades through primary, middle and high school, and then skipping all the parties in college to get the grades for medical school, this is your reward.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m sure it’s deeply fulfilling in its own way.  I’m serious about that.  I SAID I’m serious about that.

That said, while some folks are able to steer their vocational ship in the general direction of their interests, the wind blows where the wind blows.  (And most proctologists hope the wind doesn’t blow, if you catch my drift).  We’re all along for the ride.  So there you have it.  Exhibit “A.”  Game.  Set.  Match.  Edwards.

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Dr. Edwards, Paging Dr. Edwards!

Trust me.  I'm a Doctor... sort of.

By Jack Edwards

After careful consideration and deep soul searching, I have decided to quit my job and become a doctor.  No, I didn’t say go to medical school, don’t be silly.  I’m much too old for that.  I’ve just decided to become a doctor, as in start telling people I’m a doctor and begin practicing medicine.  I’m ready for the challenge the practice of medicine provides and, of course, the heavy burden of this serious responsibility.  I am not rushing headlong into my new profession.  My decision was the result of personal observations of medical doctors both concerning my occasional ailments, as well as those around me.  I have concluded, through such careful observation, that 99% of the time, the scientific diagnosis procedure involves the doctor asking a few simple questions and then pulling a Magic 8 Ball from his pocket and giving it a good shake.  This was underscored to me when my wife, after seeing three different doctors for a severe acid reflux problem, spending thousands of dollars and undergoing an unpleasant procedure where the last one, a specialist, stuck a stick with a camera on it down into her stomach for a good looksee, finally went to see a naturopath.  The naturopath took all of five nanoseconds to correctly diagnosis her as being lactose intolerant and charged her a buck ninety-five.  Now, before you think I’m unfairly judging my new colleagues and their medical protocols, I am not.  It is very difficult to meet and diagnosis the requisite 2,000 patients per hour to sustain a vacation home in Rancho Mirage and three weeks a year in Cancun.  The results I plan to get using my iPhone and a little game changer I like to call the “College of WebMD” will surely be more accurate.  I’m confident that I’ll be in the top 75% of my profession within the first week.

Because I don’t want to actually set up my own private practice (too much cumbersome paperwork), I plan to apply to a few group practices.  I figure I’ll start with family medicine.  Yes, this will take a resume, but understand that everyone in medicine including the office managers are all so overwhelmed that the odds of anyone actually checking the accuracy of my resume is less than one percent.  Given that, I’ve decided, what the heck, why not jazz it up?  So I’ve noted an undergraduate degree in Biology from M.I.T. (at least I hope they offer a Biology degree – couldn’t find it on my iPhone in my research limit of three minutes), and my medical degree from Harvard (yeah, go big or go home).  And I’m not completely sure what the difference is between a residency and a fellowship, but I think I have the order right, so I completed my residency at the Cleveland Clinic (which I am particularly proud of), and a fellowship at the Vanderbilt Medical Center.  See, in the unlikely event that someone questions me about my resume, I’ll slip in a comment about Vanderbilt, and the next thing you know we’ll be talking about Nashville and country music and about how Garth Brooks was discovered at the Bluebird Café.  Nyuck, Nyuck.  I know that many of you are wondering why I don’t play it safe and put down, for example, the Jamaican College of Medicine, where, if it even exists, record keeping might be a little loose.  Yeah, I thought of that, but if you’re going to be a fake doctor, at least take some pride in your fake credentials.

Don’t worry, I have no plans to operate right away.  And I also have no plans on turning my back on keeping up with my profession by ignoring the primary source of medical advancements – the pharmaceutical representative.  I recognize that these clean cut and well-dress young people with their degrees in English Literature and two weeks of training in Hoboken, New Jersey, are the backbone of the medical profession.  I’ll be all ears when they call to tell me how to treat my patients.  After all, they always have clinical studies to support their advice.  Both the health of my patients and the health of Big Pharma are safe with me.  And if you happen to show up at my clinic, please keep your yap shut.  You have nothing to worry about, because, only as a backup precaution mind you, I’ll always keep a Magic 8 Ball in my pocket.

Note from Jack Edwards:  If you liked this week’s column, feel free to click on the various “share” buttons 🙂  Also consider “subscribing,” and we’ll email you the column each week.  Just click on the menu symbol in the upper right hand corner of this page (the three horizontal lines), and fill in your address.  It’s free, and we promise not to do anything with your email address other than send you the column. Thank you!