Old habits die hard

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Mar 01, 2002


I used to have a handle on life, but it broke. At least that's what my friend, Arnie, says.

If your practice suffered greatly from the February doldrums and you had nothing better to do with your time than to read my column, then you may recall what he said about me last month. He called me a "dinosaur-an old Fogysaurus." He formed his opinion just because I refuse to embrace the metric system. I don't see why the rest of the world can't think in terms of pounds and inches, while letting their water freeze at 32 degrees. Furthermore, I know that many of you agree with me whether you are willing to admit it or not.

None-the-less, Arnie is known for his wisdom. So I have given some serious thought to his criticism. There are times when I seem to be out of step with the rest of the world (I don't see where that is necessarily a bad thing.)

For example, last week, Mr. Keyboard was in to see me with his cat, Bytes. It seemed that the fractious feline had a choking cough. I was not looking forward to examining this particular cat's throat, but I knew I would have to. I expected to find a foreign body in the pharynx, probably a piece of someone else who foolishly got too close to this cat's mouth. However, Mr. Keyboard informed me that there was no need to examine the throat. According to his "research," the cat was suffering from diabetes. "All the symptoms fit, Doctor," he said. "I read about it on the Internet. I brought you the printouts from my home computer in case you want to learn about it. Did you know that cats can get diabetes?"

His home diagnosis was, of course, completely wrong. As I sedated the cat to remove the chicken bone, I found myself longing for the good old days when people got their bad advice from friends, neighbors and newspaper columns (no equipment was necessary.)

That same day, Mrs. Wideload called about her dog, a Chow Chow named Yum Yum. (Don't blame me, I didn't name him.)

"Doctor, is there anything we can do to get some more weight on Yum Yum?" she asked. "He seems so thin. Do you think I could change his diet?"

I asked what she had been feeding the dog up until now.

"We have him on Earth Blend Goodie Brand Special Dental Formula, Sensitive Stomach Urinary Health Diet for Less Active Mature Dogs." (How do they fit the entire name on the bag? I remember when there were two foods available-dog food and cat food.)

I advised her to try plain old "Dog Food." She didn't like the idea because they don't sell plain old "Dog Food" at her favorite pet supply store, "The Yuppy Puppy."

These two examples aren't the only areas in which I find myself to be out of step with the rest of society. Take last summer for instance. I was at the local amusement park with my children and grandchildren. You wouldn't believe what it cost to get in. (I'll give you a hint. It's not $2 anymore.) My family had a good chuckle when they saw my shock at the price of admission. A few minutes later, I had them squealing with laughter. It happened when we passed a soda machine and I reached into my pocket, pulled out a couple of quarters and asked if anyone wanted a soda. My son laughed so hard he almost swallowed his tongue. (Apparently, sodas aren't a quarter anymore. Are you ready for a shock? The machine wanted $2 for each can! I remember when they were 5 cents.

Yesterday, I decided to call Arnie and tell him that he was right. I am a dinosaur. Many of my ideas are old fashioned and so are my values. I have resisted many of the modern trends which now permeate our society in general and my profession in particular.

"I'm glad to hear you admit it, Mike," he said. "You have a lot of antiquated ideas and now that you have confessed, you can start thinking about changing."

"You don't understand," I told him. "I'm not confessing. I'm bragging."