A recent story on my news web page featured a picture of a 73-year-old woman strapping herself to the wing of a plane. Apparently she was both completely sane and perfectly happy: she’d just always wanted to try wing walking.
Personally, I’ve never had the slightest desire to try wing walking. Or wing crawling. In fact, any scenarios involving me and wings had better also include a comfy reclining chair, a cold drink, and an in-flight movie.
But I digress. The point of the article was that, after years of telling us that the human life span could get no better than 72.5 years, doctors have discovered: the US Senate. There, the average age of officials must hover around 93, thanks to people like Strom Thurmond, who was born in 1902 and was still Senating as late as 2002.
Strom was a spring chicken compared to people like Jean Calmet, who lived until she was 122, or Elizabeth Israel, who supporters said might have been as much as 128. If you read the histories of these people, you’ll find that all of them smoked and drank and enjoyed (woohoo!) chocolate cake daily, so I can only conclude that the reason they lived so long was because… they avoided doctors.
Think of it: if you feel ill, your first step is to try and get an appointment with your physician. Where I live, there’s one doctor for every 52,000 people. In other areas, the ratio is much better — there are three doctors for every 1000 people, but the doctors all go golfing on the same day. Either way, it can take anywhere from a week to 10 years before you actually get an appointment. By that time you will have either a) died or b) cured yourself.
Assuming you do get a quick appointment though, your next step is to sit in the waiting room. Depending on where you live, your waiting room might be known locally as Joe Germ’s Bar and Grill, or Billy Bacteria’s Be Bop: in other words, a great place for viruses to hang out and pick up a human. With everyone around you hacking, sneezing, wheezing and coughing, if you weren’t sick when you went in, you certainly will be when you come out.
When you finally get to see your doctor, he or she will immediately do something like examine your nether region, even if there’s nothing wrong with your nether. This is because the secretary will have given him the wrong file. Once you explain to him that you’re there to see if you have an ear infection, he will pick up his ear-look-into thingy and proceed to take a call from his broker.
Twenty minutes later, he will actually look into your ear, and scribble “sona si latine loqueris” on your file. Loosely translated, this means “Call Dr. Bob about Friday’s game.” He will then tell you that yes, it probably is an ear infection, but that he’s going to order up a series of (highly billable) tests just to rule out other possibilities, like, say, liver disease.
At this point, you will be handed over to the tender mercies of the nurse, who will take samples of you from various locations, including your nether. You will then be sent home and promptly come down with the worst case of the ‘flu you’ve ever had.
Six weeks later, after you’ve made a full recovery, you will get a call from your doctor’s office telling you that “Your test results are in, you need to come see us.” The human mind being what it is, you will be immediately convinced that you really do have liver disease, as well as yellow fever. Or possibly chronic heart failure. Or all three.
When you finally get to see the doctor a second time, he will give you a kindly smile, pat you on the hand and cheerfully tell you all your tests came up negative. He will then scribble “Latine loqui coactus sum” on your file, which means “Bill for second consultation.” Because you just spent another three hours marinating in his germ-ridden waiting room, while highly stressed out over the possibility of chronic yellow liver fever, you will then come down with a case of ‘flu that will make your last bout seem like a mild run of the sniffles.
My prescription for long life? Avoid doctors. Laugh a lot. And eat plenty of chocolate cake. Hey, it worked for Jean Calmet, didn’t it?
Also published on Medium.