An Apple A Day …

My personal physician, Dr. Salvia Petitsfours, uses an interesting management style in her practice. Her nurse will ask me a few health-related questions and then take my blood pressure (feet on the floor, don’t cross your legs).

Later, Dr.B will come into the exam room, study the nurses’ notes (including any abnormal responses), do a “Hmmmm,” and then never again mention them. As if she’s telling me: “Hey, we found a problem, now go out there and fix it!”

Which I begin doing as soon as my feet clear the threshold of her office. I go home, drag out the laptop and fire up Google.

Case in point. The nurse measures my blood pressure, knits her brow, and asks “Have you ever been told you had hypertension?” When I answer “No,” she writes that down and leaves the room. Dr. B never mentions it during the rest of the visit.

After Google-ing, I drive to Walgreen’s where they are happy to sell me a marvelous device to monitor my blood pressure at home. I find that while my numbers are not screamingly high, they are also never “normal.”

Now you might well ask: “Hey, you’re a grown-up ex-physician. Why didn’t you pose more questions? You could stand up for yourself and not be so damned passive.” Or you might also ask: “Why would you continue to see a physician who doesn’t follow up on what she finds.”

That’s where you miss the most important thing. Since I really don’t want my doctor to find anything wrong, I am happy to continue to feign ignorance, even to myself. And as long as she doesn’t make a fuss, I can give myself permission to keep doing what I’m doing without a worry in the world.

Except for the blood pressure thing. It nagged at me, and so I returned to Dr. Petitsfours’ office a week ago with a sheet of paper containing a hundred BP measurements taken over a month. As a result I am now taking a medication that makes it necessary to urinate forty-two times a day, twenty-three of those times during the hours that I would normally sleep.

Other than that, I’m a happy man. Oh, and my numbers are quite a bit better, so there is that.


There are times when I do feel sorry for modern parents. They’ve studied how to be successes at raising that child they brought into the world, and have the big items nailed down pretty well, at least some of them do.

But then life tosses something small at them, something that was never the subject of a focus group or a TED talk.

When I was working in Yankton SD, I spent a fair amount of time running to the Emergency Department for some of that small stuff. One summer afternoon, a young father brought his 7 year-old in to be seen.

The man was a sturdy specimen, wearing faded camo pants and a Cabela’s T-shirt. A guy who probably fished, hunted, camped … an outdoorsy person.

“What is the problem,” I asked.

“He’s got a woodtick on him,’ said the father.

I looked and found a tick on the boy’s back right around the belt line. I asked a nurse for a tweezers, then reached over and plucked the offending critter off.

The father looked at me incredulously. “That’s it?” he said.

“Yup, that’s it.”

The man was instantly angry (at me? at life? at himself?) and probably embarrassed as well. I didn’t get a chance to ask him about it before he bundled up the lad and took off. Nor did I get the answer to another question of mine, which was “How in blazes did you get to be an adult in South Dakota without knowing how to do this yourself?”

Another problem for today’s parents is that they don’t have Grandma Jacobson around. One of the things that happened to me regularly when I used to spend weeks living on my grandparents’ farm as a young child was that I would be stung by a bee or wasp. There was rarely a week that went by without a sting.

It may have had something to with the fact that I would be forever on the lookout for nests of these creatures, and then spend an afternoon tearing them apart. I would poke a stick at one and then run away at top speed. When the resultant hubbub died down, in I would go for another poke. The usual endpoint of all this was that one of the sneaky little devils would come up behind me and do his kamikaze thing on the back of my arm or neck.

I would then run to Grandma who knew exactly what to do. Stings required the application of a poultice, a large wet one, and it was made of … mud. Any old mud would do. Just plop a big lump of it over the injury and keep it there until the poultice dried. Then toss it all away and get on with your day.

I expect that other treatments would have worked as well. The main ingredients were Grandma’s perfect confidence and the fact that it always worked. (If you wait the time it takes for a layer of mud to dry most of the pain would be gone no matter what you put on it.)

If a child comes running to me tomorrow for comfort after being stung by a bee, I’m think I’m going to slather on chocolate frosting. That way when the pain has gone, he can scrape it off and eat it.


From The New Yorker


Across the street from the southtown City Market there is a small pasture. This Spring one of the occupants of that pasture has caused a small stir. People will park their cars at the store and walk across the street just to get a good look, and if they’re lucky, be able to pet it.

Yesterday Robin and I made a pilgrimage from home just to see her. Dang. What a beauty!


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