Heal thy­self

The Compass - - Editorial - Harold Wal­ters My Im­per­fect Slant Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville. He thinks it’s cool to live in the only Cana­dian province with its own time zone. He does not think it cool to live in a province that taxes books. Reach him at gh­walte

I have a belly­ache. What shall I do?

If I had moaned such to Mammy, in a dif­fer­ent bay, in a dif­fer­ent cen­tury, p’raps in a dif­fer­ent di­men­sion, for frig sake, she might have con­sulted The Doc­tor’s Book to di­ag­nose my par­tic­u­lar ab­dom­i­nal mal­ady and ad­min­is­tered treat­ment ac­cord­ingly.

Raise your hand if you re­mem­ber The Doc­tor’s Book be­ing a part of once-upon-atime ru­ral home health care.

Oh, I know it wasn’t ac­tu­ally en­ti­tled The Doc­tor’s Book, but that’s what it was com­monly called. I con­fess, I don’t re­mem­ber its ti­tle. All I re­mem­ber is that it was a heavy dark blue [?] tome stogged cover to cover with med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion — text and pic­tures.

The book con­tained cross­sec­tioned illustrations of the hu­man anatomy in gen­der­spe­cific de­tail. At age seven or so, those pic­tures weren’t what most cap­ti­vated me. Glossy pic­tures of dis­eased eye­balls fill the page I found fas­ci­nat­ing.

“Harry, who do you think cares about that old book?” says Dear­est Duck, the con­stant fas­ci­na­tion of my dotage.

“P’raps no one, my Duck,” say I.

Nev­er­the­less, The Doc­tor’s Book was con­sulted when the an­cients [!] at­tempted to heal them­selves de­spite the fact that tex­tual prog­noses were more dire than nec­es­sary. A belly­ache wasn’t al­ways a grim in­di­ca­tion of one’s im­mi­nent demise. Some­times it was merely a boiled bean fer­ment­ing on its pas­sage down the al­i­men­tary canal.

Flip decades pages, eh b’ys?

When Pa’s Tara was a tod­dling tot, I was at The Univer­sity learn­ing some scraps re­gard­ing the phys­i­cal de­vel­op­ment of small chil­dren. The check-list of hor­ren­dous dis­or­ders that might af­flict young­sters scared the whoop­sie out of me — fer­ment­ing boiled beans notwith­stand­ing.

“Harry, no need to be vul­gar,” says Dear­est Duck who is the pin­na­cle — the acme — of proper eti­quette.

“My Duck,” say I, “worse things than veiled ref­er­ence to of cal­en­dar a body’s ex­pul­sion of pent up gas have be­come so­cially ac­cept­able.”

“Still, there is no need,” says Dear­est Duck.

Any­way, I fre­quently ran tests on our un­sus­pect­ing daugh­ter.

Some­times when she sat on the floor con­cen­trat­ing on peel­ing crayons, I’d sneak up be­hind her tot­ing the lids of our largest saucepans and slam them like cym­bals within inches of her nog­gin.

I was awash with parental re­lief if she wailed and, flee­ing the sud­den clang­ing thun­der be­hind her, ran weep­ing to Mommy.

No deaf­ness there…un­less the sud­den per­cus­sion dam­aged her del­i­cate baby eardrums…

… which is why, in a week or so, I’d feel com­pelled to re­peat the test.

Poi­soned with my an­tics, Dear­est Duck made me cease all fa­mil­ial ex­am­i­na­tions — no as­sess­ments of our chil­dren; no check-ups on one’s spouse.

I could, how­ever, at­tempt to di­ag­nose my­self.

For in­stance, I once dis­cov­ered I suf­fered the early stages of the same fa­tal gas­tric af­flic­tion that had felled Grand Pappy.

Quicker than Granny caught the weasel, I was at The Clinic pre­pared to in­form The Physi­cian of the med­i­ca­tion he must pre­scribe.

“Harry,” he said, in a voice not un­like Dear­est Duck’s when she’s cast­ing doubt, “what’s caus­ing you dis­tress?” .

“Poi­soned with my an­tics, Dear­est Duck made me cease all fa­mil­ial ex­am­i­na­tions — no as­sess­ments of our chil­dren; no check-ups on one’s spouse.”

“I have a belly­ache,” I said. “De­scribe your pain,” he said. And so I did, em­pha­siz­ing its sever­ity. And then I handed him a scrap of pa­per on which I’d scrib­bled the un­pro­nounce­able names of the med­i­ca­tion re­quired to cure my dis­ease.

The Physi­cian, a learned man no doubt, stud­ied the pa­per be­fore turn­ing it over, writ­ing on it with un­ex­pect­edly leg­i­ble pen­man­ship, and hand­ing it back to me.

I read his pre­scrip­tion: “Harry, buy some Beano.”

Nowa­days, I don’t need an up­dated edi­tion of The Doc­tor’s Book to guide me. I don’t need to visit The Clinic. I don’t need the learned Physi­cian.

I have The In­ter­net in­stead. Re­cently, I had a re­oc­cur­rence of my chronic belly­ache.

I went on­line and cross­checked two dozen Medix sites and re­searched a de­fin­i­tive diagnosis.

On a quasi-il­licit — p’raps — site I found an of­fi­cial, dig­i­tized pre­scrip­tion pad com­plete with a “cer­ti­fied” doc­tor’s sig­na­ture. Be­ing ex­tra care­ful to spell cor­rectly the names of all the medicines re­quired, I keyed them into the blanks.

Then, my pre­scrip­tion clutched in my hand, so to speak, I en­tered Ama­zon’s Great Big Shop. I placed all pre­scribed meds into My Cart, linked to Pay Pal and placed my or­der.

To­day, with my hand in­side my shirt like Napoleon’s to soothe my pain, I pace from win­dow­pane to win­dow­pane…

… watch­ing for the Daily Courier.

Thank you for read­ing.

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