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GARY SMITH: What the doctor ordered

Physicians’ advice not often too hard to follow by Gary Smith | May 22, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

Among the things I would have gotten done by this time most years (including my taxes, five haircuts and complete, pointless and largely inaccurate research on the Cardinals' prospects for the season) is my physical.

I know, I know. I should have already. But things got a little crazy around the office. And, the world ...

Now it's not like it's exactly a highlight. I mean, I'm of "a certain age" and my father died as a result of prostate cancer, so my physicals are more than a little interactive.

And they have certainly changed over time. When I was younger, before the whole prostate deal, they were a glorious celebration of the brilliant choices and effort that made me a specimen of incredible health.

Yeah, or something like that. That "something" being I was young, dull and lucky enough that, barring engaging in wildly dangerous activities like drinking and driving, forgetting to take a parachute with me while base jumping or marrying deranged people who breed large cats for a living, I was probably good to go.

As I've gotten older, things have changed a bit and even not doing anything dangerous is not enough to keep me out of danger. Or that least clear of the "we need to keep an eye on that" territory.

I have also developed a new sense of compassion for my doctor. I mean, first off, that whole prostate deal can only be marginally less pleasant for him. That's an awful lot of years of very intense and expensive training and dedicated medical practice to have to spend your day ... you know.

Then there is the fact that for me and virtually every other patient, he's going to provide us with a long list of things we ought to be doing and all we're going to hear is "you're fine. So make sure there's actually a car in the elevator shaft when you step into it on the way out and you should be good to go for another year."

I mean, he's going to give me advice. I will probably do at least the easy stuff for at least a while. So unless the Lovely Mrs. Smith suddenly takes up an interest in big cats or my number coming up in the great biological lottery, we'll all be back again next year. We both understand this and at least one of us is fine with it.

The thing is, I may not necessarily follow his advice to the letter, but I understand and appreciate it.

I don't think he has an ulterior motive other than trying to keep me alive despite my best efforts to the contrary.

I'm fairly certain he's not in the pocket of the shadowy Kale Cartel (the absolute worst season of "Narcos," by the way).

I'm also willing to extend the confidence I have in my doctor's expertise and intentions to most members of the medical profession. Best case, I've always gotten good advice. Worst case, well, if you're bad at it, we probably knew before now.

So if qualified, credentialed medical experts say I should do things like wash my hands, avoid crowds or wear a mask in public, I tend to believe them and assume what they're actually wanting to do is keep folks alive, not destroy the world.

The thing is, I suddenly get the feeling the entire nation is acting like we just got out of the doctor's office, listened to his advice and decided, "Forget that, I'm going to skip the salad, order the chicken fried steak and light up a pack of Lucky Strikes."

And a not-insignificant portion of us has elected not only to disregard doctor's but has decided, "what do they know?" and that salad is actually bad for us and we really should be eating fatty foods and smoking, mostly because they read it on Facebook.

Look, I get it. These are impossibly hard times for people. Lots of us are seeing everything we have worked for threatened, or are scared and unsure and are turning to sources that may or may not have our best interests at heart. And doubting ones who do.

But one thing I've found about my doctor, and most of the doctors I've been to, is they never really ask me to do anything I can't do. They've never suggested running a marathon. Just, maybe, doing a few small things and not doing some really bad ones.

Whatever I do with those requests is up to me. But whatever happens, I can't say they didn't try. And that's really all they're doing right now.

Commentary on 05/22/2020

Print Headline: What the doctor ordered


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