Cardella: A Medical Problem

I was in the middle of a stress test. The cardiologist and his assistants were discussing good Mexican restaurants in the area. That’s the very definition of irony. The patient is being tested to see if he’s ruined his cardiac health because he ate too many tacos. And here we all are – doctor, his assistants and his patient wondering where you can get good tacos around here. I joined in the discussion. Gave them the name of a joint that uses authentic Mexican corn. Listen — if you’re going to clog your arteries, make it an authentic experience.

Hard to believe no one noticed the irony of the situation. And the less folks recognize irony, the more ironic the situation. It’s like the mob speaking out in favor of gun control.

My wife Fran tells everyone we meet never to ask me how I’m feeling — unless they’ve got at least an hour to spare. Can I help it if I have this habit of sharing my blood pressure readings for my last six visits to the clinic? Last time I visited my oncologist, she asked me how I felt and had to cancel her appointments for the rest of the afternoon.

It’s my experience that friends and relatives really don’t want to know the details about how you’re doing. Ever notice that when they ask you how you’re doing, their eyes glaze over when you respond? I myself am afraid to ask someone how they’re doing. Suppose they answer, “My doctor gave me six and a half months to live.” You desperately want to find something hopeful in your response. “Well — at least you have that extra half-month.” Or my favorite — “What do doctors know? They’re not God.” Or, “They didn’t take ice cream away from you, did they?”

When you check out after a doctor has given you six months and the receptionist asks you if you still have Blue Cross as your supplemental medical plan. Like at that point I really give a s—t.

It’s been my experience that doctors like to place their patients on a restricted diet just for the hell of it. They’ll never say, stop eating potatoes. Rather they’ll suggest you cut down on your potassium. Really? Who eats potassium? You don’t want to act ignorant. So, as soon as the doctor leaves the examining room, you get out your smartphone to find a list of foods that are high in potassium. You read that some legumes are rich in potassium. Now, you’ve got to find out what the hell is a legume?

You know what really gets me? When the nurse goes over your medications with you. You’ve over 80. You barely remember your street address. And they expect you to remember all 16 meds you’re taking and the dosages. You have to be careful when you get into any area where the answer requires an exceptionally good memory. Mispronounce Carvedilol and they’ll be calling for a bed for you in a nearby nursing home. And they’re not subtle about it. “Here Mr. Cardella,” she’ll say, handing you a blank piece of paper and a pencil. “Draw me a clock with the hands designating two o’clock.”

What is it with the names of drugs? Why are they all so difficult to pronounce? I tried to say, “Carvedilol” and fractured my tongue in three places. Why do generic drug names always have  “z’s” and “x’s” in them? Why not name them “Harry’s pills?” If they can name shaving products after Harry, why not pharmaceuticals? Listen to me — I can name the entire 1922 lineup of baseballs’s New York Giants, so don’t try and put me away because my tongue tripped over one of the “l’s” in Carvedilol.”

While I’m at it, whoever figured out that hearing aids should cost $6,000? Yes+ OTICON you made it possible for me to hear so clearly my wife now reads our food shopping list to me. But is that worth $6,000? And who at my healthcare outfit decided that the primary function of hearing aids is cosmetic? I’m told the high price of hearing aids is due to their sleek design. I’m not buying a 2022 Porsche. I’m just buying hearing aids. Just want the damn things to fit in my ear canals. Please figure out how to warn me I still have the damn things on when I step into the shower. And knock a couple thousand off the price. I don’t need German engineering to make my hearing aids fit. Why do the Germans have a monopoly on the design of my hearing aids? Don’t all of us have ears?

By the way, it did not give me a sense of confidence when the lab technician started praying the rosary when she missed my vein during a recent blood test. I joined in reciting Hail Marys in unison with her when she missed the freakin’ vein for the third time in a row. This was a nice spiritual lady, but when was the last time she had an eye exam?

Have you heard? There’s a doctor in Pennsylvania running for the U.S. Senate? Dr. Oz. Nobody but Oprah knows what he’s a doctor of. I think “Dr.” is his given first name. Oz’s mother had so much confidence in her son having a bright future, she named him “Dr.” He’s running against a former hedge fund manager, David McCormick. What the hell does a hedge fund manager do? McCormick is also seen as a big fan of China. Dr. Oz is often called a “RINO.” Is that because he has a horn in the middle of his head? Lucky for Oz, none of his boyhood friends ever thought to nickname him “The Wizard.”

Have I got all that stuff right?