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In our neighborhood a dentist spread his entrepreneurial wings, and bought a restaurant, with enough office space upstairs to house his dental practice.

I don’t know anything about the dentist’s background. Maybe he worked as a waiter to put himself through school. Or maybe he was attracted to the porcelain tiles that decorated the interior.

What matters now is he is a dentist and restauranteur, and needs to bridge the gap between these two divergent establishments. I decided to see how he was doing, and made a reservation for dinner. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you as confused as I am about the science of weight loss?

Friends and enemies change so frequently, you feel like you are stuck in perpetual middle school. Carbs, fat, wheat, protein, and exercise are ‘in’ one day and ‘out’ the next.

It’s enough to drive you into the arms of Jenny Craig.

Americans are trying to get their act together, but while obsessing about diets and weight loss, bodies balloon into historic proportions.

Is there hope for the hopeless in the newest research movement? Is it possible the science of weight loss is finally getting its s*’*t together? In the form of a ‘poop pill?’

Overweight and obesity

Courtesy Deposit photos copyright Julos and alexskopje; edits by Shallow Reflections™

It all started when scientists observed that when specially bred germ-free mice ate the gut bacteria of thin people, they stayed slim. But when these same mice ate the gut bacteria of obese people, they got fat.

This oozy news intrigued an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, prompting her to launch a study to see whether these findings could apply to humans.

Before you run to the powder room with nausea and cramps, let me remind you that medicine transplants all sorts of organs and cells from humans, both living and dead. Would you be willing to accept a creepy guy’s cornea from his lazy eye if it meant you could restore your vision? I’m betting you would.

And people who are obese are now desperate, having failed all known therapies, including bariatric surgery. What if it isn’t their fault? What if it is a matter of obtaining the right bacteria to populate their gut?

So what will happen when the public gets wind of this scoop? I predict people will retreat to the water closet, and take fecal matters into their own hands, bypassing the careful screening and criteria for the study.

What sorts of things will they do?

  • At the pool:
    • Take the plunge when they notice all lean swimmers doing the crawl.
    • Gulp pool water to provide large inoculation of Slim Jim.
  • In a restaurant:
    • Insist on an underweight server, and give an extra tip to have him skip the antibacterial hand cleanser.
    • Bypass the bar and head for the high tops with stools
    • Order hamburgers rare, topped with shiitake mushrooms
  • At home:
    • Consume foods with known fecal contamination, e.g. peanut butter, wheat, and leafy greens.
  • Develop a ‘brown’ market that will develop and distribute new products
    • New and improved chocolate sprinkles
    • A line of spices called: Sugar and Spice and Everything Not Nice
    • Specially processed ‘chips’
    • Pot raised in potties
    • Indoor miracle grow gardens in ‘cans’
  • Career options to consider:
    • Janitor
    • Septic pumper
    • Day care provider
    • Porta-potty pick up person

In the meantime, watch for results of Dr. Yu’s study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. I believe it may result in a new cliché, ‘Eat s**t and die-t.’

What do you think? Would you take the ‘poop pill’ if you knew you could lose weight? With any luck, if you do take the pill you won’t remember s**t.

While most of the world was busy making New Year’s resolutions, I was in the throes of cramming for my physical exam.

Food Rules

Reading and yoga is so relaxing…..photo by Shallow Reflections™

It’s not like I don’t know a year in advance that this annual assessment is on the calendar. Since I’ve fallen short of a health makeover once again, looks like I’ll rely on my wits and winning personality to pull off a passing grade. Plus I’m too old to score any Adderall.

Did you know there has been evidence rattling around for decades showing no benefit to this once a year ritual? But the medical community is slow to embrace change, especially when it brings in change.

Since I can’t reform American medicine, it is time to bone up and get prepared. After all, if I don’t show up for class once a year with my medical provider, I won’t get recognized when I raise my hand in mid-February with a fever of 103 and a chest full of phlegm. Instead I will hear, “Sorry, you’ve been expelled!”

The first hurdle: the public weigh in

Tell me why a health care system that spends billions of dollars per second, cannot afford a scale in each exam room? I have one at home that was not expensive, and it is thinner than the new MacBook Air. If I used it, I’m sure it would be accurate.

At any rate, there is one upright scale located in the public hallway, as intimidating as airport security. It waves people through to the inner sanctum after it reveals your digital weight carried out 5 decimal points.

Since I like to get down to bare essentials for a weigh in, it is very embarrassing to stand in my underwear with others looking on. So I’ve come up with a different approach.

A carefully timed dose of ipecac syrup will result in ejection of stomach contents as I approach the BMI police. By the time the medical assistant has called for the clean up crew, I’ve been ushered into an exam room.

Depending on what my last meal was, this should result in a stamp in my chart placing me on the “NWL” (No Weight List).

‘Preventive’ tests

‘Preventive’ tests should be labeled ‘Tests to Look for Diseases.’ I offer up blood and tissue sacrifices, and squeeze delicate parts of my anatomy into radiation emitting de-vises. Then I wait for my scores, which I hope arrive in envelopes instead of via the dreaded Phone Call.

I have issues with criticism, so I carefully consider the consequences of subjecting myself to this cellular scrutiny. I am also mindful that results could be wrong, like my siblings who say I was a spoiled and lazy child.

Lifestyle questions 

Describe your alcohol intake? 

The latest guidelines for women are: 1 but no more than 2 drinks daily, for maximum of 7 drinks per week. I have a proven technique for making this warped math equation work. If I’m in danger of reaching that magic number 7 early in the week, I simply start the week over.

Answer: “I follow the guidelines for healthy drinking in women.”

Do you smoke? I like to have multiple-choice answers ready for this question.

a) Do I need to count the cigars I smoke around the back yard fire pit?
b) You mean tobacco?
c) Not yet.
d) Only when I dress up.

What do you do for exercise?

I stand at my desk for 3-4 hours/week, flex my feet and toes while I watch TV, and power walk multiple times from the living room to the refrigerator each evening. I toss and turn in bed most nights, with minimum of three trips to the bathroom.

Answer: “I stay active both at work and at home.”

How would you describe your eating habits?

Answer: I follow Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules.” (My version: Eat food. Too much. Mostly sugar).

When your twenty something medical assistant begins to stifle a giggle, you know she has come to the sex questions. Her nimble mind, still capable of doing mental math, calculated your age from your date of birth, and she checked off the box ‘not applicable.’ 

I’m relieved when I don’t show signs of a terminal illness during the 15 minutes I spent with the principal my doctor. Now all I have to fret about are the 364 days, 23 hours and 45 minutes I manage on my own, hoping to avoid detention or worse….a ‘final’ exam.

Next year I’m due for a colonoscopy, which is a graduate level ‘test looking for cancer.’ Instead of spending time at the head of the class, I’ll be doing time in ‘the head.’

How do you prepare for your physical exam? Do you have some Cliff Notes you’d like to share? Do you strive to make the dean’s list or settle for ‘pass/fail’?