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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Doctor, No!

Miriam over at AnceStories 2: Stories of Me for My Descendants has another scary prompt this week - The Doctor!

Who was your doctor or health practitioner when you were growing up?

For pediatrics, most people in Sullivan County went to see Dr. Fried and Dr. Denman in Livingston Manor. I have memories of my vaccinations and the oral polio vaccination there. And I was absolutely floored when I was reviewing nursing homes for my mother and guess who was the chief doctor at one of them - and I don't mean a patient - Dr. Denman! He must be about 85 years old now.

How often did you go to the doctor? Every year for a check-up, or just when you were ill?

As a child I did not go to the doctor unless necessary - there were physicals and vaccinations as required for school, of course.

Did you have a lot of illnesses as a child? Or were you fairly healthy?

I was fairly healthy but plagued with many ENT (ear, nose & throat) problems. I had my tonsils out at age 10 and my ears operated on at the same time. I do remember that my brother and I had scarlet fever - this was unusual at that time since most people remember it as a disease from the 19th and early 20th centuries. I remember we were pretty sick.

Did you have any injuries (broken bones) or surgeries? Have you ever had to be hospitalized?

No injuries as a child - my brother was the accident-prone one, from broken arm, to rose bush through the palm to curtain rod into the elbow.

What specialists did you have to see?

No real specialists as a child.

Did you have to see an optometrist and/or wear glasses?

Fortunately, I did not need glasses until I was 35 and that was due to years of computer work (I am near-sighted in one eye and far-sighted in the other).

Was going to the doctor a pleasant or unpleasant experience? Share both your most unpleasant and your favorite medical memories.

It wasn't exactly pleasant but it was not dreaded like the dentist. As I got older my doctor was the same as my mother's doctor - Dr. Schiff in Liberty. He was what I call an "old timer" - very gruff, no nonsense, and he and his nurse still smoked like chimneys.

As an adult, how do your current medical experiences compared with those of your childhood?

Hah! Where do I begin? Well I have been pretty fortunate to have reached my mid-40s without much damage except for severe arthritis in both hips. Despite being accused of "shaking it" too much, the cause is years of hardcore weightlifting, running and ballroom dancing in the 1980s and 1990s. While the exercise is/was great, it has worn down my joints significantly to the point where some days I can only walk with the assistance of a cane.

Do you still see the same doctor?

I am now in Chicago and have a new doctor who is absolutely wonderful! He takes time to listen, doesn't rush me, and can often squeeze me in on the same day when I call.

What kinds of health problems are prevalent in your family? Are there any genetic diseases of which your relatives should be made aware? How have you attempted to avoid these risks or diseases?

Readers know that Alzheimer's Disease, the genetic form which comprises about 15% of all cases, runs in my family, mainly among the women on my maternal side. While I do worry about Alzheimer's Disease (and panic when I can't remember where my keys are), as I wrote here, I would welcome a test that could determine whether or not you are likely to get the disease.

Are there any doctors, surgeons, specialists, nurses or other health practitioners in your family, or in your ancestry?

The medical arts are not prevelant in my family - even going far back. I am not sure why this is the case.

Are there any stories about certain medical problems or injuries, or about interactions with medical practitioners that have been handed down through the generations?

There are many lines of "healthy stock" among my family, which means quite a bit of longevity both among men and women. And this is even among people who avoid seeing doctors at all costs. So the stories and tales are very few.

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