July 2010 Archives


I know about statin drugs.  I used to take some of them, various ones, to lower my cholesterol.  Long ago, of course, when I was a VA patient but some sort of a “VA VIP” since I am a physician, good God, and someone had to make sure I was getting the best care that a federal institution could give.

One of the things they did was to tell me we had to do something about my awful cholesterol.  I knew it was not that awful, but they told me I should get a “statin.”  I tried about three or four different ones before I told my doctor never to give me these horrible medications. He told me I was insane, but my cholesterol has lowered considerably since.There are lots of wonderful ways to lower cholesterol (like dancing as much as you can) that do not carry statin risks. The article cited above is not the first one that blows the widespread use of statins out of the water, if someone bothers to listen.  Few do. Read more on Cholesterol Drugs Could Be Worse Than Cholesterol…

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I have a fable that is obviously too late for Aesop’s collection of same.  It is unlikely to make its way into any later anthology. I might as well tell you about a tiny town whose sole virtue that it was on an interstate road that took a lot of people from various parts of California into Las Vegas, that famous refuge for people who are too sober and trying to get rid of excess money, sometimes while getting either married or divorced. Actually Littletown (we will call it that to avoid embarrassment to all two or three law abiding citizens). Had just one more virtue. Their county hired me as a consultant.  I did last in that job for a while, even though it covered three different small clinics, each of which needed me just a day or two a week. Since every morning when I woke up, I had to have my husband remind me not only what day of the week it was, but what city and clinic I was supposed to be at. The clinic buildings looked different from one another on the outside, a fact which didn’t help me very much because I ended up working on the inside and usually ate lunch at my desk. The patients in all three clinics were different from those that I had seen prior to that time in my career, for I had not done more than sporadic work with addicts, and there were a fair amount of people on crystal meth.  I practiced “from the book” and did the best I could (I always do) and helped some people somewhat, to get treatment and put their lives together.  But it was in Littletown, where the stores on Main Street were empty and the only local culture was the yogurt shelf at the (chain) supermarket, that I really learned about crystal meth for the first time. Read more on Once Upon A Time There Was An Explosion…

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Parents and grandparents want their children and grandchildren to have better lives than they did. They have always wanted this, but they don’t seem able to get it anymore, as they have in the past. I am curious why they think mine is a life to model after.  Some ask a few indirect questions after I get them medication.  Recently one women walked in, said she wanted the same medications she had always had, and took notes on some very precise questions.

Girls do not wait,  Especially in the poorer socioeconomic groups they still get married because they happen to be pregnant, and finish out their lives with people chosen as partners in the suboptimal manner.

Cupid is a SnailWhat made me wait?  First, I was married to my career and got the “wear no man’s collar” message from my mother. But I was before a revolution that gave women options of part time professionalism so that they could mix it with mommying.  I saw people take longer to get where they were going than I did.  I especially remember a colleague in the same residency program I was in, in psychiatry, who I cannot think about without visualizing tiny children on her arm.  I do not think she was smarter or better because she strung out things part-time.  I doubt she would have completed things at all had she not chosen that option. Her husband was a resident, too; finished before he (obviously) as he did things full time.  They ended up on the same hospital staff. Somehow, I suppose justice was done. Read more on You Can’t Hurry Love…

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Since my husband and I have been together for over 19 years, a rarity in this day, people often like to ask me about our “couplehood.”

It’s hard to miss if you are around us for any length of time at all.  He still opens and holds doors for me and whenever we walk, it is always hand- in-hand.  Oh — and we treat each other nicely and with respect.  Those are all dead give-aways.

One question I get sometimes is when I first knew it was “real love.”  I had always been cautious and protective about giving my heart away. After all, I had finished a year of psychotherapy training where most of my patients were women and nearly all of them were divorced women. I decided I was too sensitive for this divorce stuff.  It sounded like something that would turn me inside out, render me basically non-functional, and leave me screaming for mercy.  The only answer, to maintain a functional life, was to avoid it.

To choose a husband so perfect that the relationship would be “divorce proof” for sure by the time that I was actually involved in it. I used my reasoning skills and wrote the plan that worked.  We were together for a good year before I decided that this was the one, and it is the rightest thing I have ever done. But with all the reasoning skills, I would be the last one to deny that there has to be an element of “chemistry.”  There was and still is.

I do believe, however, that women are constantly duped by men who say or do things for the wrong reason.  I can teach, to a certain extent, the things I did to eliminate such from consideration.  But when I am asked when I first realized this man loved (and desired) me, I always say one of the things I often say that nobody believes. It is when his pupils dilated.

As the Rodgers & Hart song says, “If they ask me I could write a book,” and I suppose I am. Sorry, I couldn’t miss this one.  I love Rosemary Clooney and Rogers and Hart. Read more on There Is An Actual “Love Light” In His Eyes…

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I can barely remember when getting on a scale meant a “good” thing. It was about the time of age three or four. I was “growing,” so my height got measured every once in a while, too. Putting on weight was “healthy” growth.

The next time I heard the word “healthy” used in that manner was when my husband’s grandmother of blessed memory, who was quite nearly blind, put her hand on my thigh, and slapped and felt it in the way older women are justified to do, and said “I am glad you are a healthy girl.

Some time not long after that first time that putting on weight was good, it changed suddenly and completely. My mother did not see the contradiction that I told her about. I had to clean my plate. That was told me unequivocally everytime I sat down to eat. But when I was weighed, I was getting fat and it was bad. She acted as if she were totally blind to what to me was, even then, a stupid and obvious contradiction. I have since decided that the customs mothers live and pass on come from some mystical realm of logic, and have less to do with anything akin to reason than they do with some sort of mindless revelation validated by repetition and mimicking, probably of her mother, and so on back through an infinity of Jewish mothers. Not that I think this experience is particularly Jewish, or particularly ethnic in any way. If the patients I have seen (as well as the friends I have had) over the years are any indication,such messages about weight in general and the relationship of weight to food are as ubiquitous as air. Read more on Women+Weight+Scales=PANIC!…

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The Fourth of July has come and gone this year. Once again, I have managed to avoid every parade and every fireworks display. This time, I did not even hear a firecracker.

The last time I saw fireworks was several years ago when a chronically depressed and critical (but on some level intellectual, highly cultured, and fun-loving) threw a party as she happened to be living in a rented home from which three fireworks displays were easily visible.  I remember that although I was my usually pretty stone cold sober self, many of her intellectual, highly cultured, and fun-loving friends had no trouble becoming rip-roaring drunk.

Perhaps patriotic holidays are one of those days, like New Year’s (Eve) when the “amateurs” get drunk; the people who otherwise are not terribly likely to do so.  The “professionals,” the backbone of Alcoholics Anonymous, probably watch fireworks stone cold sober while smiling at the “amateurs.” Read more on Public Displays of Patriotism…

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Even though it has been slow and gentle, my weight loss (yes, 150 pounds without surgery in a couple of years and yes, I will speak of it more later and elsewhere) means, among other things, that I have located some new veins — and today, an artery.

Now the veins that made me happiest were, and still are, the ones on the back of my hands. I have a memory etched into my soul of a chief resident in neurology at the University of Minnesota who told me privately,and with all of the discretion that he could figure out how to muster,that I should be ashamed of being as fat as I was. Because if ever I had a serious health crisis, and nobody could find a vein, someone could die from lack of a proper venous access. It didn’t take any training in psychiatry to figure out that some time, in the past not too distant to that remark, he had failed to find a vein in someone who died. Of course, I felt horrible.  But oh, the joy as I slowly lost weight and was able to locate, when I had enough liquid volume on board, big juicy veins on the back of my hand, even as I can now. Every time I look at them I think “Wow.  Even a first year medical student who has never seen a vein on a living person would not only know immediately I have wonderful veins, but could pierce them with just about any kind of tubing, no matter how poorly suited for the job.  They could not miss. They would be happy. They would think they are the next star of “Boston Medical” and they would call their parents and ask for some spare money to celebrate.  This is what it is to be a “real doctor.”

Actually, most veins are now pierced by far less qualified and far lower paid professionals, certified “phlebotomists.” They have taken my blood in unskilled and inappropriate ways, sometimes screwing up all pretense of sterile procedure by doing things like ripping fingers out of latex gloves to get a better “feel.”  Another cheap doctor substitute, foisted on people who do not know what they are NOT getting. Read more on As If By Magic An Artery Appears…

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