Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Month: May 2007 (page 1 of 3)

Good Humor

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If you’re reading this on Thursday, we’re probably already on our way to Cedars-Sinai, where Sophia is having a second surgery for the DCIS they found in her breast.  

We heard that laughter is good for healing, so tonight, we went to the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach to see Jay Leno perform.  I found the comedian much more entertaining — and real — in person than he seems on the Tonight Show.

Two weeks ago, before Sophia’s last surgery, the surgeon at Cedars-Sinai asked Sophia to write the word “Yes” on the right side of her chest, so everyone would be on the same page (or boob) during the surgery, and so no one would get sued.  

During the comedy show, Sophia had an idea.  When we first entered the club, the bouncer had stamped the back of our hands to show that we paid.   On the way out, Sophia asked him to stamp her again, but this time — in a very special place.   The bouncer seemed quite bewildered by the request, but Sophia was charmingly persistent, and so he went back to the office to retrieve the stamp.  I think the staff at Cedars should get a kick out of it.   

 At least they won’t forget which boob to work on.

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Wish Sophia good luck… and quick healing…

Food Blogger for the Day

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It was about a year ago that I told the lie. A food blogger, most probably Delicious or Smitten, had written a post about an interesting dish she had made.

I wrote a comment saying that “I should try to make this dish.”

The blogger wrote back, asking, “Neil, you cook?”

I replied, “Of course.”

Now, I’m not stupid. I know that women love men who can cook, even more than men who are funny. So when a pretty food blogger asks if you can cook, you say, “Of course.”

Of course, I was lying. I’m not much of a cook. I can make a decent salad, a mushroom omellette, a tuna fish salad, and spaghetti and meatballs. That’s about it.

With Sophia in surgery mode, it has been on my shoulders to produce dinner lately — which means take-out. Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Lebanese, Italian. Frankly, it’s getting expensive. A large hot and sour soup + one chicken and broccoli = at least fifteen dollars.

That’s why, I’ve decided to do a little cooking next week. Sophia’s next second surgery is tomorrow, and she’ll probably be out of it for a few days. Wouldn’t it be nice for her to have some home-cooked meals?

This is where YOU come in. I need a few SIMPLE recipes. Remember, Sophia is not a Campbell’s Soup type of gal. The meals have to be simple enough for a moron to cook, but still tasty for a picky eater. Think of this as a public service for men who can’t cook.

And thank you, Whoorl and Marisa from Apartment 2024, who have already given me suggestions on Twitter. (Whoorl: The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook (is she nuts?)) (Marisa at Apartment 2024: Her terrific ForkYou.TV!)

Mommybloggers, I need you. If anyone knows how to whip up a simple meal, it is you. Now, I know a few of you are still upset at me for insulting you on this blog, mocking you, and drawing Stalin-era mustaches on the photos of your precious children. But let us now make peace. Tell me your secret — for how long do you cook rice?

And please. No macaroni and cheese. She won’t eat it.

And nothing with bacon.

And Delicious/Smitten/whoever it was — I’m sorry I lied.

One more question, before I do this cooking gig, do you think I should ask Sophia if she WANTS me to do this?

Meditative Monday

1.

See Sophia.   She is stressed.   Sophia wants to de-stress. 

Sophia downloads “meditation MP3s” from the internet.   Sophia puts on her headset and de-stresses with the sounds of the waves.

2.

See Neil.  Neil is stressed.  Neil wants to de-stress.  Neil wants to go online and fantasize about half-naked female bloggers. 

Neil notices that Sophia has downloaded her “meditation MP3” from a mysterious “Russian site” that has infected the computer with various “worms.” 

Neil is now VERY STRESSED.

3.

See Sophia.  Sophia lies in bed with her eyes closed, visualizing the ocean.  She is unstressing.

Relax, Sophia, Relax!

4.

See Neil.  Neil sits in front of a computer monitor for five hours, waiting the “progress bars” of  virus-scanners and “hijack stoppers” slowly moving millimeter by millimeter.   Oddly enough, the blue-tinted “progress bars” are hypnotic.  After Neil’s eyes become blurry, the progress bars appear as bluebirds flying across the landscape of a Costa Rican beach.

Relax, Neil, Relax!

Overheard at Trader Joe’s

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Mother to Mother:  “I will only give Danielle the organic Kashi cereal now.   I’m not supporting the Frosted Flakes-Cocoa Puffs industry anymore.    It’s time we were heard!”

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You have been heard.  Greedy sugary cereal producer of Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs, Kellogg’s, OWNS Kashi (but you’ll never see it mentioned anywhere on the box or website).

Update:  From last year’s New York Times:

Conventional cereal makers have been looking for ways to jump-start sales in a category that has been flat since 1995. In 2003 total cereal sales, excluding Wal-Mart, were $6.99 billion. In 2005 they were $6.89 billion but alternative cereal companies continue to expand. In 2005, sales of alternative cereals (excluding sales at Wal-Mart) were $361 million, up from $273.5 million in 2003, a 32 percent increase, according to Spins research.

Many of the alternative cereal brands are owned by larger companies, including Kellogg and General Mills. “Cereals, like milk, are one of the primary entrance points for use of organics,” said Ms. Christenson of Spins, “which is pretty closely tied to children – health concerns, keeping pesticides, especially antibiotics, out of the diets of children. These large firms wanted to get a foothold in the natural and organic marketplace. Because of the mindset of consumers, branding of these products has to be very different than traditional cereals.”

These corporate connections are often kept quiet.

“There is frequently a backlash when a big cereal package goods company buys a natural or organic company,” Ms. Christenson said. “I don’t want to say it’s manipulative, but consumers are led to believe these brands are pure, natural or organic brands. It’s very purposely done.”

General Mills owns Cascadian Farm, and the name behind Kashi is Kellogg. Barbara’s Bakery is owned by Weetabix, the leading British cereal company, which is owned by a private investment firm there. Mother’s makes clear that it is owned by Quaker Oats (which is owned by PepsiCo). Health Valley and Arrowhead Mills are owned by a natural food company traded on the Nasdaq, Hain Celestial Group; H. J. Heinz owns 16 percent of that company.

The cereals sold under the Peace label are owned by Golden Temple, a for-profit company owned by a nonprofit group founded by the late Yogi Bhajan, who made his fortune from Yogi Tea, Kettle Chips and a company that provides security services.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  The Poetry Reading

Yes, I am Jim

Note:  This is the third time I am re-publishing this so-so post.  I’m not this anal in real life.   The problem with the post, as you will see, is that the joke is based on me getting an email from HOLLY Newberry, when in reality, I received an email from a reader named HOLLIE Newberry.  Time for new glasses.

OK, here is the earlier post:

Once upon a time, people said I looked like John Lennon. Later, I was mistaken for Bill Gates. (you can read my depressingly awful first attempt at a “poem” about this subject here)

Last year, in IHOP, I was thought to be the actor who played Kirk from “The Gilmore Girls.” (I know the show just ended. What happened to Kirk anyway?)

Today I received an email:

Neil,

I’m a (somewhat) loyal reader of Citizen of the Month. Being the brave man you are, you post pictures of your self for all the world to see. While watching a mini-marathon of Shear Genius, and drinking vodka after 4 shots of novocaine and some happy gas at the dentist, I noticed that you look like the long lost brother of one of the contestants. I can’t remember his name, but I know he left the show early for his doing of horrible hair. Here he is:

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Did I tell you or what?

Sincerely,

Hollie Newberry

I scratched my head for a few minutes, wondering if this was a legitimate email. Other than us both wearing glasses, I don’t think I look anything like him. His name is “Jim” and he was eliminated from Bravo’s hair-styling reality show, Sheer Genius.

How do I know that information? Because I looked it up on Google.

I also Googled the email author, Hollie Newberry, and came up with this:

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(Men, if you do a search, you will find much much better photos of Hollie, who is apparently a famous British cheerleader)

Now, the emailer might not be THIS “Hollie,” but if she is, “Yes, I am Jim of Shear Genius.”

Note:  So, bascially, the whole post was based on a spelling error.  The email was from HOLLIE, not HOLLY, and I’m sure Hollie now hates me and will never read my blog again.  There was some more stuff to this post, but I deleted it.   Can I now move on to something new?

Have a great weekend!

Out of the Past

Lately, I’ve been having weird dreams, and remembering them, which is unusual for me.  Last night’s dream was very bizarre.  It started out in the coffee shop from the TV show “Happy Days.”  I was sitting at a table with Richie Cunningham, Ralph, Fonzie, Laverne, and Shirley, and we were all waiting for Potsie to return to town.  He had been living for several years in California.  

Suddenly, the scene switched, and I was home, but my house was now some sort of enormous mansion that looked a bit like the Getty Museum.   I was getting married in the morning (to Sophia?).  I had hundreds of guests… and they were all in the mansion, sleeping in various bedrooms, waiting for the big wedding.  There were friends and acquaintances walking through my house, some who I hadn’t seen in twenty-five years.  It was first come, first serve for the bedrooms, so I had to go from room to room to know where everyone was staying.  I spent the most time in the “master” bedroom, which had three big beds.  In the beds were some kids I remembered from my elementary school in Queens — P.S. 154 (and they were still kids).   One of the kids, a girl named Claire, was hiding her boyfriend, Dennis, under the bed, thinking that them being in bed together would upset me, but I told her that it was OK for them to “fool around.”  (there was a scene just like this in All My Children yesterday, so I obviously steal my dream material from a soap opera).  I actually laughed to myself when I met “Whoorl” in the bathroom combing her hair.  (The only reason she must have been there was that she emailed me recently that I showed up in one of her dreams, so this must have been payback.  And yes, the baby was there!).

Even though the wedding was the next day, I decided to surprise everyone by giving them tickets to the Oscars, which just happened to be taking place that night.  After I bought a thousand tickets from a woman sitting at a desk in the middle of Wilshire Boulevard, I began to second guess myself.  I wondered if my guests really WANTED to go to the Academy Awards, or whether they would prefer to go to a Lebanese restaurant where there is a bellydancer performing (Sophia and I had a bellydancer at our wedding).

I don’t remember much else about the dream.  Why was I having this dream?  Why was I thinking about all these people I haven’t thought about it years?

This morning, after waking up, showering, and eating breakfast, I went onto my email, much as I do every day.  Amidst all the spam, there was an email waiting for me from “an old friend.” 

An old friend?

It was from “Tess,” a friend I had in summer camp.  (I changed her name. I’m not sure why.  If she says it is OK, I’ll use her real name)  I was 14-15 years old at the time I went to this Jewish summer camp.  I haven’t heard from her since then.  Apparently, she found me through someone finding my blog. 

I immediately called Sophia over to read this email, because this wasn’t just any old friend from the past.   This was from the first girl I ever liked!   I even wrote heart-felt notes to her, which I could read at the next “Cringe” “read embarrassing stuff you wrote as a teenager” festival.. 

Tess was totally unlike me.  While I played right field in softball (and dropped every ball), she was the best athlete in camp!   Even then, I liked a strong woman!  Alas, we never became more than friends.  She liked someone else in camp — and now she’s married to him with two kids.  All in all, I was probably better off, because  at the time, I wasn’t ready yet to deal with girls.  I still required several more years of practicing kissing the back of my hand.

Even though my memories are vague, and probably reinterpreted through the years,  I remember Tess as important, because before her, I don’t think I had the guts to talk to a girl as a “real person,” or consider one a friend.  I even asked her to some sort of final dance “social” at camp, and I think she agreed, but I have some unclear memory of her getting a cold and having to be in the infirmary, and me talking to her through a screen window.

Something happened that summer when I was fifteen.  During that important summer,  it occurred to me, that even if you were a total dork —  and I was — if you make a girl laugh, she might actually notice you.  It was a lesson I learned, and learned well.  Today, all I have to do is tell a funny story, and my mailbox is filled with the panties of female bloggers from around the world. 

I’m very curious to speak more with Tess.  We emailed a couple of times back and forth today, trying to fill in everything that ever happened since we were fifteen,  but this is difficult to do, especially in an electronic age where a Twitter is considered a long message.

I’m not one who is into mystical stuff, but it was an odd coincidence that last night,  I had a dream about people from my past, and this morning, someone for real showed up in my inbox.

Has anyone from your past ever found you through your blog?

(I told her to read my blog.  I hope that wasn’t a bad idea.  We’ll see if she writes back!)

Barbra Streisand Ain’t No Cheap Date

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According to the BBC:

Barbra Streisand’s concert in Rome next month should be cancelled because of excessively high ticket prices, consumer groups in Italy have said.

The Adusbef and Codacons groups urged the city and the Italian Olympic Committee to deny Streisand use of the Stadio Flaminio on 15 June.

Prices, ranging from 150 euros (£100) to more than 900 euros (£600), were “absurd and shameful”, the groups said.

Streisand’s Rome concert will kick off her European tour.

The consumer groups said that the use of the stadium for such an “immoral deal” is “shameful for a civilized country.”

Of course — now on sale — Italian designed Rene Caovilla Beaded Slingbacks —  only $1,250 at Bergdorf Goodman! 

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Where’s our consumer groups?

(And I’m sure Barbra owns a pair)

(And my second gay post in a week!  At least it wasn’t about ABBA)

(Elsewhere — my latest post on Poetry Thursday — a somewhat uncomfortable piece about anger)

(In other music news, Sophia Lansky votes for Blake twenty times, calling American Idol a farce and starting a conspiracy theory that the producers picked a final song they knew that Jordin could sing well and Blake would suck at)

(And that was the best song in a nationwide American Idol contest?  My song about latkes at the Christmahanukwanzaakah Online Holiday Concert concert was better)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthThe Buddy System

Talking Health Care with Psychotoddler

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A few weeks ago, Not So Confidential answered some of my questions about gun control. I enjoyed the format.   I doubt that he changed the minds of most of my wimpy liberal Bush-hating readers, but it was cool to hear the other side of the story.  And believe me, while I love Danny and his Huffington Post friends, I’d rather have NSC standing next to me during a bar room brawl. 

Today, I’d like to turn to another subject in the news — medical care.  This has been a big issue for several years, with very little being done.  Things in the media will only get heated up more when Michael Moore’s next movie about America’s health crisis, Sicko, comes out in theaters.

Medical care has become a personal issue lately because of Sophia.  Lately, I’ve been bitching about both doctors and hospitals, and how uncaring they can be.  But what about  the other side?   Aren’t doctors just as miserable as their patients?   Why don’t doctors and patients ever talk to each other?

Psychotoddler is a blogger, a musician, and a doctor.  He was nice enough to take some time out from (playing golf) to answer a few questions.  Feel free to grill him about any issue that is on your mind, and I’m sure he will answer you.  Just be careful not to ask him for medical advice.  He will charge you.

Neil:  Sophia’s surgeon seemed to have been over-confident in thinking that he took out her DCIS, and never wrote down the orientation of the piece, which is now requiring Sophia to get more  cut than necessary.  All doctors obviously make mistakes.  What should be our response to the error?

Psychotoddler:  Sue!  No, seriously, you have every right to discuss the issue with the surgeon and get an explanation of why the orientation was not marked.  You are correct; doctors make mistakes.  The issue is that doctors don’t like to admit mistakes because they fear litigation.  The actual truth is that doctors who discuss mistakes with patients in an open and rational manner are less likely to be sued than those who try to avoid the discussion or cover it up.  Never-the-less, there are lots of lawyers out there who would jump on an admission of error and so many physicians are uncomfortable discussing their mistakes.

On the other hand, not every bad outcome is a mistake.  Sometimes it’s a judgment call that turned out badly.

The trick is to approach your doctor in a serious but non-litigious manner.  Let him know that you appreciate the 99 things that he did right but want better understand why that one thing went wrong.  Try to avoid being adversarial.  A good doctor will respond in kind.  You and the doc should be on the same team!

Neil:  It seems that Sophia usually gets pretty good care because she is always calling and questioning her doctors (as well as shmoozing with them).  Is this the only way?

Psychotoddler:  I’d like to think that doctors provide good care to all their patients, but the truth is that we are pulled in multiple directions all day long and sometimes the simple truth is that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  On the other hand, squeaky wheels are annoying as hell and most people try to avoid them.

Again, I prefer the team approach.  You need to let the doc know that you’re on top of things and paying attention, but also show some appreciation.  Personally, although I try to be impartial about my patients, I probably do spend more time and effort on patients whose company I actually enjoy than on those that annoy me.

Neil:  Any recommendations for making sure a person gets good care in a hospital?

Psychotoddler:  This is tricky.  I’ve seen this from both ends, as a doctor and as a family member (fortunately, not so much as a patient).  You need to be an advocate for the patient, but not get in the way of patient care.  I’ve seen families descend on hospitals, occupy rooms and hallways, question every staff member and every physician who comes in the room, all in an effort to make sure their loved one gets “good care.”  Generally, this approach does NOT work.  What happens is that the staff starts to avoid the patient’s room.  If an aid or a nurse or even a doctor knows that they’re going to get a lot of hostility or endless questions, or just feel uncomfortable with all the people in the room, they will try to go in as little as possible.  And in general, this ends up being bad for the patient.

The patient is in the hospital because they need the care that the staff provides, so every effort should be made to make the staff want to respond to calls and come into the room.  Keep visitors to a minimum.  Don’t yak on a cell phone (even if the hospital allows it—but especially if it doesn’t!), don’t feel the need to question every pill that gets dispensed.  It’s enough to let the staff know that someone cares and is paying attention.  Try to get the nurses on your side.   An overbearing family can put a patient on the nurses’ sh*t list quickly.  Be pleasant.  Smile.  Bring candy for the staff.  Let them know you respect them, not that you don’t trust them or think they’re goofing off.  In many ways, the care that the patient gets from the nurses is more important than that from the doctors.

That being said, some places are just BAD.  My mom did all those things and my dad STILL got crappy care.  Know when it’s time to bail out and transfer.

Neil:  Are nurses undertrained?

Psychotoddler:  I think nurses are better trained now than they’ve ever been.  Many function on the level of a physician’s assistant or higher, especially on specialty wards like ICUs and Cardiology floors.  The issue is that not everyone who looks like a nurse is an RN.  Nurses are expensive and hard to come by, and many hospital floors have a handful of them and then a bunch of nurse extenders, like aids, certified nursing assistants, etc, who have minimal training.  If you’re not sure about who’s giving care, don’t be afraid to ask.

Neil:  Are hospitals understaffed?

Psychotoddler:  Yes.

Neil:  If you had to go into a hospital, does saying that you are a doctor, give you special treatment?

Psychtoddler:  I am loathe to mention that I’m a physician.  I’m probably in the minority on this, though.  I hate the idea of privilege, and have no problems with waiting in line.  My mom, on the other hand, was sure to point out to everyone we encountered (the guard in the lobby, the elevator operator, the nurses and aids, the doctors and I think a few of the janitors) that I was a doctor.  I suspect that on one level it does give me more access and makes the staff take me more seriously.  On another level I think some providers are threatened by it and try to play their cards close to the vest.

Neil:  Doctors used to be thought of on par with Gods.  Now they are one notch above lawyers.  What happened?

Psychotoddler:  We let others take the reins of medicine from us.  Bureaucrats, legislators, HMO administrators.  We allowed them to take our profession and hack it up into little bits.  As a result, we surrendered our authority.  Most doctors used to be self-employed.  Now many if not most are employed by large hospital corporations.  We are like 1.5 or 2.0 FTEs, subject to the whims of middle-level administrators and can be fired at will.

I also think that the proliferation of readily available medical information, whether on the internet or through the mass media, has served to empower patients, and that power has been transferred from doctors.

Neil:  Patients are always complaining about medical care nowadays.  But I hear that being a doctor is just as bad today, especially compared to the way it was in the past?  Why is that?

Psychotoddler:  Medical care is actually much better now than it has ever been.  People are living longer, healthier, medications are better, taken less often, with fewer side effects.  We have procedures that can fix blockages in the heart and limbs, where in the past dangerous and painful surgery was the only option.  We have better diagnostic tools than ever before, almost on par with Star Trek.

But it is also more expensive than ever before.  Because it costs so much, it is much more regulated.  People complain about medical care because they have to pay so much for it and yet it seems they have less access to it.  There are many layers between the doctor and the patient, and just because something can be done doesn’t mean it will be done, if it needs to go through a maze of HMO prior authorizations.

People are also paying much more out of pocket, even as opposed to 5 years ago.  And yet for this extra expenditure, many are seeing a paradoxical decrease in service.

From the doctors’ perspective, they are getting paid less and less and working more and more.  There is more paper work than ever before.  Since the new Medicare drug plan went live, my paperwork has tripled.  Every month I have to submit new prior authorization forms for the same medications that patients have been stable on for years.  I have staff members who now spend full time on the phone with insurance companies and pharmacies trying to get my patients their pills.  All this costs money, and as a result more patients need to be seen and less time can be spent with each.

Documentation regulations are out of control as well.  Doctors at this point don’t get paid to provide care.  They get paid to produce documentation.  There are now computer programs that can spit out an entire history and physical report even before a patient is seen.  In the hands of less scrupulous providers this can lead to inaccuracy or even fraud.

Neil:  Everyone thinks doctors are fabulously wealthy.  How long does it usually take to pay off medical school expenses?

Psychotoddler:  A typical doctor pays of thousands of dollars per month in medical school loans over a ten year period.  If, like me, the doctor was not blessed with wealthy parents, he may be burdened with high-interest 30 year loans as well.  I was fortunate enough to finish paying off my loans about a month before I started taking loans out for my daughter’s college tuition.

Doctors who do a lot of procedures, ie surgeons, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, make a good living.  Those of us who rely on dispensing advice, like internists, pediatricians, family practitioners, make relatively little.  I live paycheck to paycheck.

Neil:  Why do doctors seem to care so little about their patients?  Are they seeing too many patients?

Psychotoddler:  Everybody is different.  I don’t think my patients will tell you that I care little about them.  Surgeons, by nature of their practice, are on a tight schedule and may not have a lot of time to chat, and may come off as aloof or uncaring.  Primary care doctors may have a little more time with their patients.  But not everyone is a people person.  If you really don’t feel like your doctor is there to help you, maybe it’s time for a new one.

Too many patients?  You know, you can’t have it both ways.  Above I mentioned the pressures on physicians to see more patients (and by the way, employed physicians may have very strict requirements to see a certain number of patients per day).  At the same time, patients want to see their doctors in a timely manner.  A doctor could see fewer patients per day, thereby spending more time with each, but then many who want to be seen would be turned away.  And the doctor would probably not be able to keep his doors open for long without either overcharging the ones that come in or finding some alternate means of income.

There are some physicians who charge a premium, say a few thousand dollars a year, and in return limit the number of patients in their practice, enabling them to see fewer patients for longer appointments and be available quickly for them.  Obviously this would only work for a few providers out of many, as someone has to see all the other patients.  What’s interesting is that people now have to pay a premium to have the kind of interaction with a doctor that was the norm 40 years ago.

Neil:  Do you think there is too much specialization?

Psychotoddler:  Yes.  Not everyone needs to be a cardiologist.

Neil:  Do you have any specific ideas on what you would do about health care or health insurance if you were President of the World?

Psychotoddler:  Yes.  I would ensure that everyone had affordable health care coverage, that no one had to pay excessively out of pocket, and that paperwork would disappear from the face of the earth.  Also, I would make sure that we colonized the Moon by 2014 and that I could take a rocket ship ride around the rings of Saturn.  I’ve always wanted to do that.

Neil:  When I was a child, my family doctor would do all these tests, including holding my balls and making me cough.  My family doctor in LA has never seen me naked — in ten years.  Should I change doctors?

Psychotoddler:  I don’t blame him.  I don’t want to see you naked either.  Seriously, there used to be something called the “annual physical”, the purpose of this was to get you naked so your doctor could look you over and screen you for things that you didn’t know you have, because they weren’t bothering you at the time.  That’s called “preventative medicine.”  But then Medicare and many other insurers decided not to pay for it.  So it doesn’t get done.  Many of us still do this.  You may need to tell your doctor you want an annual physical, and be prepared to pay more out of pocket for what the insurance refuses to cover.  Otherwise you may only be interacting with your doc for “problem visits”, and given the time constraints we mentioned, that doesn’t leave time for the other stuff.

Neil:  A serious question — why are magazines so BAD in doctor’s waiting rooms?  Why do I want to read his old Golf magazines?  This shows the doctor as uncaring right from the start. 

Psychotoddler:  We take all the good ones home for ourselves.

Neil:  Would you want your son or daughter to be a doctor?

Psychotoddler:  From the perspective of working very hard, getting massively in debt, and then ending up in a profession that is a target of lawyers and legislators, working unbelievably long hours, for less and less prestige, the loss of privacy, constantly being a slave to the pager, etc, I’d say “no.”

From the perspective of this being a wonderful way to make a living helping people, I’d say, “yes.”  I love my patients and I love what I do.

Neil:  Are most of your friends other doctors?

Psychotoddler:  I have no friends.

Neil:  Do doctors treat patients differently according to their health plan?

Psychotoddler:  Yes, primarily in the sense that different plans limit what you can prescribe or order.  You have to factor that in when you make decisions.  It’s nice to say that you go all out for everyone, but after a few come back and complain that insurance didn’t cover their MRI or whatever, you learn to take these things into account.

Neil:  What’s the deal with all those sexy blond sales reps?  Do you go out to lunch with them?  Will they go out to lunch with me?  Have you ever bought Prozac over Wellbutrin because the salesgirl bought you a nicer lunch or had a better ass?

Psychotoddler:  I’d love to answer this, but there’s a hot drug rep waiting for me.

P.S. — Sophia has a question now that she dares Psychotoddler to answer honestly:  “Isn’t it true that doctors make more money from HMOs if these patients DON’T come in for visits?”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the MonthWatch the Road

My Mom Was Just Like Me

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Sophia: “You know, we should put a personal ad in the New York Jewish newspaper for your mother. Maybe she’ll meet someone.”

Neil: “You mean… like dating? A man?”

Sophia: “Why not? She’s still young. She goes out.”

Neil: “But…”

Sophia: “It’s been a year and a half already since your father passed away. I asked your mother yesterday if she would go out with someone…”

Neil: “You asked my mother THAT?!”

Sophia: “Why not? She said she WOULD if she met someone.”

Neil: “I can’t really visualize…”

Sophia: “She goes out more than we do. She’s younger in spirit than YOU. She goes to the theater and concerts. You just sit there and blog.”

The phone rings. It is my mother.

Neil: “Hi, Mom. What’s that music in the background. Where are you?”

Neil’s Mother: “I took off from work this week. I’m with my friend Laura in Baltimore.”

Neil: “Baltimore? What for?”

Neil’s Mother: “They have this six day classical music “elderhostel” at the Peabody Institute music school at Johns Hopkins. It’s like college for those who remember Elvis. We stay here, there are music classes from professors, and then there are concerts at night.”

Neil: “Sounds fun, but… I wanted to talk to you about…”

Neil’s Mother: “Oops, gotta go. Class is beginning… a lecture about Mozart… Don’t call me. I’m shutting off my phone…”

Neil: “But…”

My mother hung up the phone, more interested in being with her friend than talking to me.

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
She’d grown up just like me
My Mom was just like me

She Loved My Cock So Much, Now She Wants Yours

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There are a few times I’ve embarrassed myself online, but one of my most memorable moments was when I sent an email to Schmutzie, who didn’t know me from Adam, and told her I adored her website and that I completely related to her frequently odd (uh, offbeat) posts and photos. And guess what — she wrote back! I’ve been smitten ever since.

Schmutzie was just diagnosed with cervical cancer, and she’s pulling her hair out of head, just like Sophia has been doing since she learned she had to go back into surgery in ten days.   Cancer really sucks, but I have a feeling these two strong women will beat the shit out it.  And since Schmutzie is Canadian, and we all know how Canadians don’t fight fair, her cancer better be very scared!

I noticed that Schmutzie used a rooster as her icon on her sidebar, so I emailed her a photo of a colorful rooster with the message, “Be Strong Like the Rooster.”  Now others are sending her rooster photos to bolster up her spirits.

Send her a rooster photo for her “Cockroll” and say hello!   I shared my cock with her.  Will you share yours?

Update:  One more rooster photo for her collection — ABBA with their unknown “fifth band member.”

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A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:   BlogHim 06′

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