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Just What the Doctor Ordered

by Rose Madeline Mula

I'm in love with my PCP. Not my Personal Computer Pedagogue—my Primary Care Physician. No, it's not what you think; my doctor is a woman. And, no, it's not what you're thinking now; I am not gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Seinfeld used to say; but I'm not.

I love my lady doc because she has taken excellent care of me over the years. She's very thorough and is quick to refer me to specialists whenever she finds a potential problem. And when the problem is in my head, she's equally quick to dispense no-nonsense advice. For example, I have been very conscientious about walking briskly two miles a day; but after a couple of nasty falls caused by my clumsy stumbling, I told her I thought maybe I'd better stop walking. "Walk!" she commanded. "Just pick up your feet." She's right. Her caveat now rings in my ear every time I set out.

Also, I've been worried about my cholesterol, which seemed high to me, according to what I've read. She pooh-poohed my fears saying that because my HDL/LDL ratio is excellent, the total number is fine. I sent my readings to another woman doctor—an e-mail friend in California. Her response was, "This is a great profile. You're going to have to die at the hands of a jealous wife who finds you in bed with her husband.Listen to your doctor," she said. "She's right."

A while back I attended a seminar on osteoporosis where doctors—and drug company representatives—painted a very bleak picture of what happens to women who do not take hormone replacements. We were all going to end up bent over double and with heart problems, to boot. As for the possibility that hormones might promote any incipient breast cancer, that was a minor consideration, they said. Since I've had some borderline breast symptoms in the past, it was more than an insignificant matter for me. However, the heart issue was also a major concern since my mother and her siblings all had had serious cardiac problems. I asked my doctor what she thought. "What do I think?" she replied. "I think you attend too many seminars." She doesn't take hormones herself and very seldom recommends HRT, she said. A few days later I read that a new study indicated that not only do hormones not help prevent heart problems, they may actually contribute to them. Again, my doctor was right. Of course, next week another group of researchers may disputes those findings; so everyone should consult with their own physicians before making any medical decisions. I know that I, for one, will continue to rely on my doctor.

And if I ever doubt her judgment, I just ask her for a second opinion from her mother. No, her mom is not a physician; but apparently she spends her days reading as many medical journals as she can get her hands on, and she passes the knowledge she gleans on to her daughter. "Every night when I get home," says my doc, "I turn on my answering machine, and sure enough, there's at least one message from my mom. Last night it was, 'Judith, this is Mother. I was just reading that tomatoes are very beneficial for prostate problems; so be sure to tell your male patients that they should eat as many tomato products as possible.'" I think she should write a book titled, "Judith, This is Mother." and pass along all her mother's tips.

During my last annual exam, I asked Dr. Judy if it's true that one should take vitamin pills only with water. "I don't know," she shrugged. "I take mine with coffee. Am I supposed to know that?" "Look," said I. "Do me a favor and ask your mother." I'm waiting for her to get back to me on that one.

It may be a long wait. This relationship is not perfect, you see. My only complaint about my doctor is that though she gives me all the time in the world during my annual physical exams, it's impossible to reach her by phone at other times. Between exams, if I have a question, I have to ask her secretary who, in turn, relays it to my doctor or one of her nurses and then calls me back with an answer. And it's not as if I'm phoning often—maybe once or twice a year. It's very frustrating, but I can understand it. And it's not frustrating enough to make me want to change doctors. After all, the next one might have a mother who just plays bridge all day.

 

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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