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Follow your doctor's orders

My friend Tom gets his medical treatment in England, where he lives. Tom's doctor realized that some of Tom's symptoms were being made worse by anxiety, so he asked him leading questions so that he could structure his treatment.

Q: How many times a day do you watch the news?

A: Three -- at noon, at 5 o'clock and 9 o'clock. (Tom is retired.)

Q: How often do you read the paper and how thoroughly?

A: Every day and every page.

Doctor's advice: "You are not to watch more than one news show a day and you will give up your daily papers and take only the Sunday paper. Read only the sports and comics."

It's working. If anxiety were weight, Tom would have lost about 30 pounds by now.

Craig gets his medical advice in Oregon. His feet and elbows were hurting and he was advised he had gout. He wanted relief:

Q: Doc, what can I do to relieve the pain of this gout?

A: How much beer do you drink?

Q: Quite a bit doc.

A: If you want to rout the gout, beer is out.

So Craig dropped the beer and the pain is gone.

There was this patient named Henry who belonged to the same club as his doctor, Jim. It was a Toastmasters club. In Toastmasters the members meet and give speeches to one another to learn how to express themselves in public. They study speech preparation, organization, timing (all speeches are timed), gestures, expression and other aspects of delivery. Then members evaluate the efforts of the other speakers to help them improve and bolster their efforts with positive observations and encouragement. The whole point is to improve the ability of the members to perform in their jobs and professions, or to give them the confidence to stand up and make a point or ask a question at a meeting of the school board or city council. It's a great self-help organization for those who wish to do more than just be spectators.

Henry was a go-getter, but when his turn for a speech was coming up at the next meeting, he tied himself into emotional knots. He came to his doctor Jim for some calm-down pills. Would Jim prescribe a double-dose of calm-downs because of the extreme anxiety? No, it was worse than that. Dr. Jim understood better than almost any doctor could have because of his own activities in the club. He directed Henry to drop out of Toastmasters, which Henry reluctantly did. And it worked. Henry lived happily ever after -- no more pre-speech stress.

And finally, for the guy with type two diabetes: give up your daily half dozen sugar donuts and replace them with six daily long walks with your dog.

What do these examples prove? That when a doctor gets to know his patient, he's a better doctor and his patient is getting the best treatment possible.

But remember this gentlemen: Don't go asking for a prescription of those little blue pills unless you expect to get much better acquainted with your doctor.