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.