Very wise

by Brian Keaney

A few years ago, when starting a new job, I had to pick a primary care doctor for the purposes of my  health insurance.  The last time this situation presented itself, I literally opened up the book of doctors, put my finger down on the page, and wrote down a number.  I never saw him.  In the more recent situation I was asked to put my zip code into a website and a list of doctors near me popped up.  In the alphabetical list I saw my grandfather’s doctor appear at the top.

Being both the first name, and someone I had met a few times before and liked, I picked him.  I mentioned this to a friend, and added offhandedly that his office was within spitting distance of my apartment.  That’s great, my friend said, you can walk there.  No I can’t, I replied.  If I am going to the doctor’s, it means that I am in such bad shape that I will not be able to walk.  Someone is going to have to carry me there on a gurney.  She knew me well enough to know that I was right.

It’s been more than a decade since I have been for a physical, and even longer than that since I’ve taken any kind of medicine.  I figure that if I am sick, I will go to the doctor’s.  If not, I am not going to waste my time having someone poke and prod me only to tell me what I already know, that I am healthy.  Even when I got the flu for the first time in my life, and had a fever high enough to make me delusional, I still refused pharmaceuticals.  A couple oranges, a bottle of Irish whiskey, and I got better.

The one type of medical care I do believe in is dental.  When you go to the dentist there is a benefit to it.  Sure, they check and make sure that your teeth are in good shape – the poking and prodding a medical doctor might do – but they also clean your teeth and put a protective coating on them.  That cleaning, I believe, is worth the hour of my life and small copay it costs.

This is not to say that I always listen to what they have to tell me.  In high school my dentist told me I should get my wisdom teeth taken out.  I told her no.  She told me that at some point in the future they might start to hurt.  I told her that I would take the posibility of pain tomorrow over guaranteed pain today.  In Honolulu my dentist agreed with me.  When I moved back, my new dentist began encouraging me to take them out again.

Of my four wisdom teeth, one of them has slowly been protruding through my gum since college.  A couple times since then a piece of it has broken off, leaving behind a sharp jagged remnant.  Aside from that, I believe my strategy of letting sleeping dogs lie has merit.  There has been no pain, and I haven’t wasted a day having surgery.  Additionally, I haven’t given anyone the opportunity to take a video of me while high on the drugs they give you.  While I think David After Dentist is still the gold standard, watching this on the Stool was pretty funny as well.


I’m not all the smart to begin with.  I need all the wisdom I can get.