Saturday, January 14, 2012

* Dignity v. Digitry, Beached in Vermont

Dr. Dignity

Chocolate and "Don't worry about anything you can't change."

Those are Beach Conger's two secrets to a long life, stolen, he will gladly tell you, from the longest lived person in human record keeping, 122 years and five months, Madame Jeanne Louise Calment, of Arles (yes, the Van  Gogh Arles of sunflowers and starry nights).

Beach Conger, who is two years older than I am (he's 69),  is my MD.

He's written three  books as a doctor: Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Adventures of a Country Doctor (which is now out of print); It's Not My Fault: Tales of a Vermont Doctor; and his latest book (which I am currently reading ) IT'S PROBABLY NOTHING: More Adventures of a Vermont Country Doctor.

Here's a sample:

"The longer I have practiced, the more I have realized that this whole business of taking healthy people and giving them pills that make them miserable, in order to treat conditions that never bothered them , may not always be the best policy." (p. 115) 

"These days, when we want to know what someone has, the first thing we do is order tests. Then we see what shows up.  It's an excellent approach, obviating, as it does, the need to think, thinking being, in my line of work, an unrewarding activity, uncompensated as it is, by any remuneration. Tests, however, are very good for business." (p. 143)

God. I hope this man outlives me. I need a doctor with his  country-common-sense ------to usher me off the planet without reducing me to a pin-cushion for medical experimentation.

Please, Dr. Conger:

                         Take good care of yourself !


 Lest you think this Vermont contrarian doctor is a rube, be aware that in addition to his Harvard MD and his position at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Dr Conger devotes  the first few chapters of  his latest book to three citified patients in his work at a Philadelphia hospital:  A crack addict with HIV known as Eastern Queen; a 525 lb. patient who wishes to lose no more than 26 lbs. because his weight makes him "somebody"; and a transgender patient who declines out of dignity to reveal his gender surgery to the good doctor who is left to infer it. 

In his prose and in his practice, Dr. Conger embraces them with a consummate  respect for their individuality, a respect characteristic of Vermonters in general.

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