Another Note from the Surgeon General

          What's up? Listen, I said some crazy things yesterday. Looking back on my proposed plan for hourly mammograms, I just shake my head and smile with embarrassment. What were I and all the researchers thinking! In the past twenty-four hours, scientists have conducted even more tests and studies. And now, I support a much better policy with regards to mammograms. No one needs them. Cool? Cool.

          Looking at the data, it's clear now that mammograms are pointless wastes of time and money. A mammogram is only good for bumming folks out and causing panic. Who wants that? Instead, everyone should just relax and not worry so much. And this new attitude isn't focused only on chests.

          For instance, prostate exams are no longer necessary. While they may detect early signs of trouble, it is not worth the awkward, uncomfortable examination. The anxiety a man feels before the exam can cause problems such as nervous sweats and mild stomach cramps. By forgoing the exam, these related ailments -all too real, as opposed to the hypothetical possibility of prostate badness -- will be cured.

          And the benefits of a colonoscopy do not outweigh the disgust the patient must endure as s/he drinks that yucky laxative the night before the exam. Instead of subjecting your taste buds and intestines to the that ordeal, simply visit your gastroenterologist if you feel something growing somewhere down there. And even then, wait a few weeks before making an appointment, because it's probably just nerves.

          We have also learned that ultra-sound tests during pregnancy should be stopped, because a) it's more fun to learn the sex of your child on the day they are born. And b) this test, like all tests, doesn't cure a damn thing.

          Along with these modifications to medical exams and their pointlessness, new evidence (collected early this morning) suggests that many procedures Americans think are helpful in actuality can be very harmful. Brushing your teeth doesn't fight tooth decay or gingivitis all that well. In fact, the act of brushing shifts harmful bacteria from one, dirty area of the mouth to another, healthy area of the mouth and then back again. Or the bacteria hide under your tongue, waiting to spring out again, strength renewed, after the rinse. And the data also suggest that flossing offers no advantage except as a way to stimulate the high-flying waxy-minty-string industry.

          Oh, and I almost forgot. There is nothing wrong with washing your hands with anti-bacterial soap, but this guy I know named Jimmy swears that wiping your hands on the leg of your pants or your shirt is just as effective, and saves on towels and laundry expenses.

          And speaking of saving, there is no need to replace the battery in a smoke detector, as a new report from Sweden shows conclusively that the human nose may be capable of detecting smoke without the use of a machine. Use the money you would have spent on nine-volt batteries to take a vacation to Stockholm this month and chill out -- ha ha.

          Also, if you have bloody stool, it could easily be nothing serious. Relax.

          Depression, anxiety, stress-headaches -- they are all caused by unnecessary, costly medical procedures. If we took a deep breath, watched a sunset, and sipped some wine, everything would be roses. That's why I'm offering my resignation today.

 

Dan Bergstein is still a freelance writer and part-time vigilante.

 

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.

Pastoral

When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).