Category Archives: Medical

The Secret to Losing Weight

“I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth’s gravitational pull has become since 1990.” – Dave Barry

Apparently, if I don’t lose weight, I’ll die.

I had been having headaches for a while.  Some of them got pretty bad, and I’d have to lie down in the dark.  My wife, of course, kept “nagging” me to go and see my doctor about it.  (I use the term “nagging” to describe the three times in a six month period when she said, “You know, it might not be a bad idea to ask Matthew about it.”  Matthew is my doctor.  He let me start calling him Matthew to get me to stop calling him Dr. Assclown.)

The headaches got worse and worse.  It wasn’t uncommon to see me walking around squinting with one eye while the other eye was closed because of the pain.  The last really bad one was so bad, I couldn’t really function and lying down didn’t help at all – in fact, it wouldn’t let me sleep.  This is when my wife finally put her cute little foot down and demanded we go to the ER right then and there.

This was on a Tuesday night around 9:00PM.

If you ever decide to have a medical emergency, I highly recommend doing it on a Tuesday night around 9:00PM.

We get to an Urgent Care center near our house and find a doctor, a nurse, a tech and a receptionist… and nobody else at all in the building except for us.

Apparently, these people were bored, because we sat down to fill out the paperwork and had only just started when the nurse took the clipboard from me and gave it to the receptionist, hustled us into an exam room, had an IV in me and the doctor was standing there asking me about my headaches.  I’m not making this up.  The receptionist actually had to come into the room and ask us questions to finish filling out the forms for us.

As it turns out, blood pressure is actually a thing.

From what I’m told, my blood pressure should be at or under 120/80.  Mine was 170/110 and apparently was the source of my headaches.  They administered some IV meds and the headache almost immediately went away.

I followed up with Matthew about two weeks ago and asked the following question:

“Matthew, I have done tons of research on this stuff.  If you read 10 different books on weight loss, you’ll have 10 different opinions as to how to lose weight, and each opinion is backed up with scientific reports and medical opinions that corroborate the author’s opinion.  You’ve got guys who wrote books about why you should eat low fat whose books now tell you to eat high fat.  Guys whose books said to eat every two hours whose books now say to fast 18 hours each day.  Low fat?  High fat?  Low carb?  No carb?  Shakes?  Bars?  Who do I believe?”

Here’s what he said:

“If you want to lose weight, you have to do two things:  Eat less and exercise.  As far as what you should eat, cut out carbs.  For now, you’ll need to eliminate them almost completely.  As far as exercise, you need to exercise 30-45 minutes per day, five days per week.  If you want to lose weight, you have to do both things.”

So, a few days later, I started walking… about 30-45 minutes per day and am on track to average 5-6 days per week.  About four or five days ago, I eliminated almost all carbs from my diet.  I’ve started to lose weight and I’m feeling pretty good.

Who knew that eating less and exercising would work?

I should write a book.


Capitaine Évident

“They certainly give very strange names to diseases.” – Plato

A person very important to me was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. During the appointment, the doctor talked about three different types of seizures which led to the diagnosis and the symptoms of each. Of course, I’m writing in the simplest of laymen terms as I remember them, so I can’t attest to the complete accuracy of my explanations.

First, are the Absence (French pronunciation – ‘ab-SAHNCE’) Seizures. These are brief episodes which generally go unnoticed except for the sense of “lost time”. One who experiences this type of seizure won’t necessarily notice any type of symptom or unusual feeling, but might have a blank spot in his or her memory of a few seconds or minutes.

Next are the Myoclonic Seizures. These are abrupt twitches and little jerks which can result in the involuntary dropping or even “tossing” of objects one is holding. One of the manifestations could also be a sudden mark across the page as one is writing.

Finally, we have the Grand Mal Seizures. These are the ones that come to mind for most people when they hear the word “seizure”. Grand Mal seizures include loss of consciousness which leads to collapse (most of the time). There are three stages to this type of seizure. The “tonic” stage is when the body goes rigid. The “clonic” stage follows and the body begins to convulse. The “postictal” stage is the final stage and is a deep sleep.

As the doctor was explaining all of this, my high school French came back to me and I started translating some of the terms he used. For example, “Grand Mal” means “big evil” and “Absence” means “not there”.

So, I began to hear his conversation like this:

“What we see here is evidence of Big Evil Seizures. These are Big. And Evil.”

“What account for these gaps in memory are what we like to call, ‘Not There Seizures’. It’s like you weren’t even there. Because you can’t remember it. I mean, if you had been there, you could. But… you can’t. Get it?”

So, I looked up some other words:

Myoclonic – from the Greek “mys” (muscle) + “klonos” (contraction)
Tonic – from the Greek “tonikos” (stretching)
Clonic – from the Greek “klonos” (violent motion)
Postictal – from the Latin “post” (after) + “ictus” (a blow)

So here’s what we heard:

“I’ve diagnosed this as epilepsy. The involuntary muscle contractions and twitches are caused by Myoclonic seizures. The memory lapses and lost time are explained by Absence seizures. The injuries the patient suffered were due to Grand Mal seizures. These injuries probably occurred during the Clonic stage.”

Here’s what he said:

“I’ve diagnosed this as epilepsy. The involuntary muscle contractions and twitches are caused by Muscle Contraction seizures. The memory lapses and lost time are explained by Not There seizures. The injuries the patient suffered were due to Big Evil seizures. These injuries probably occurred during the Violent Motion stage.”

It seems to me health care would be simpler if we did away with some of the terminology. For example, if one were diagnosed with cancer, would it make more sense to go see an Oncologist or a Tumor Doctor? (Then again, you’d probably feel more comfortable having an Obstetrician deliver your child than a Stand By Doctor.)

It sometimes feels like doctors purposefully obfuscate the diagnosis so we patients have no real clue what they’re saying. Most likely, it’s simply a way to save face. I mean, this guy spent four years in college, four years in med school, a year of internship and then three or four years in residency. There’s got to be some way to show it made a difference, right? I mean, saying “The patient complains of pruritus ani along with xerostomia and sporadic epistaxis” sounds a LOT better than “The patient has an itchy butt, dry mouth and sometimes gets nosebleeds”.