Given My Doctors, It’s Amazing That I’m Still Alive


On the way home from his Wisconsin doctor’s office, my Uncle Jack said he didn’t feel so good. My aunt told him he didn’t look so good either and suggested he stop driving. While she dialed 911, my uncle died of a blood clot.

The doctor called my aunt later that day to apologize for not giving him a blood thinner. Thanks.

Yet that’s Wisconsin — an absolutely gorgeous state with rolling hills, crystal blue lakes, air pungent with the smell of pine and doctors who graduated solidly at the bottom of their class.

I hope to goodness no one who went up for the funeral felt ill while they were there.

Florida has a lot of doctors. Not enough to have your appointment happen on time, but a lot. And they’re good ones. When I moved to Florida, I got everything my Wisconsin doctors had fixed re-done “for real” this time. Here are a few fun examples:

• When I was 10, people who were not optometrists came around to the schools looking for students with lousy vision. They selected me to go to someone posing as a real optometrist, and that person gave me the wrong prescription for glasses. I had headaches for the next year or so — and probably damaged my vision still further — until I refused to wear them anymore. Years later, a Florida optometrist gave me the correct prescription.

• When I was 11, I was stung by two wasps and, being allergic, immediately went into shock. My family doctor took me out of school for a year and sent me to the hospital for rheumatic fever. My Florida doctor said it had been a rheumatoid reaction to the wasps and that I’d never experienced rheumatic fever. Or sixth grade.

• When I was 17, I had braces put on my teeth for four years. When I moved to Florida, it took a trained orthodontist three years to correct the damage.

• When I was 20, I stepped on a broken bottle hidden in the sand at the bottom of a Wisconsin lake. The cut was deep, and the lifeguard had to carry me to safety, like in the movies. (Since he was in his 20s, you’d think this would’ve been exciting, but he was not that strong, and I was feeling dizzy. We were both mostly waiting for him to drop me. Plus, he tried to cheer me up by telling me, “You’re the fourth person today to get cut on that bottle.”) I was taken to a teaching hospital, where the “doctors” sewed me up. My own physician, Dr. Quack, checked the wound later and, when I told him it still hurt, told me to quit being a baby and walk on it. I quit being a baby and walked on it for the next 10 years until a one-inch glass shard worked its way up and came out the top, where my Florida doctor finally took it out.

Keep in mind, these are only my own personal tales of medical woe. Throughout the graveyards dotting the rolling hills of Wisconsin, I’m sure there are many more.