Life As We Know It: July 29, 2013

       Every medical school in America thinks I’m sick. Subscribe to one “wellness” newsletter and before you know it your name is on a mailing list that zips about the health-care universe at warp speed.

      It all started three years ago when the Mayo Clinic, somehow aware that I had reached a certain age, convinced me to subscribe to its monthly “Mayo Clinic Health Letter.” I was advised that not only would it explain any ailments I might already have as an emerging old person, it would alert me to the warning signs of new ones.

      What could it hurt, I figured. A little preventive care is a good thing at any age.

      For two years the Mayo newsletters arrived faithfully. I was up to speed on everything from sebaceous cysts to restless leg syndrome to post-nasal drip.

      But soon the Cleveland Clinic wanted a piece of the action. It, too, had a newslett er, and I thought well, hey, the Cleveland Clinic is just up the road. So I decided to hold the Mayo and go with the Cleveland. Just like that, the word was out: Walton is entering the autumn of his years and he’s vulnerable.

      Next came the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Would I like to subscribe to their “Wellness Letter”?

      I opted to stick with the Cleveland Clinic, but UC-Berkeley included a sample issue containing a short essay which answered the question, ”Why do beans cause gas?” This is cutting edge stuff. You never know when someone will ask. So I put it in the binder with the Mayo and the Cleveland newsletters.

      Then came the Mount Sinai School of Medicine with its “Healthy Aging” newsletter. Again I said no but I kept the sample issue. I was intrigued by one article which advised me that if I’m having trouble seeing, I should get glasses. You can’t get that kind of insight everywhere, folks.

      Mount Sinai also informed me that older adults can benefit from “resistance training.” I completely concur. Whenever training is involved, I resist. One other Mount Sinai tip: if I’m having trouble sleeping, I should avoid taking a diuretic just before bedtime. Way ahead of you there, Doc.

      After Mount Sinai I heard from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and its “Health and Nutrition Letter.” The sample issue got my attention with an article reaffirming the heart benefits of modest alcohol consumption. Into the binder it went, and off to the wine shop went I. My heart thanked me for it.

      About this time I’m wondering, “where’s Johns Hopkins? Don’t they care?”

      Oh, but they do. They were next, with a newsletter called “Health After 50.” I declined, but again, the sample issue was very informative. If it’s hot, drink lots of fluids. Good advice at any age, I would think.

      But wait. There’s more.

      Duke University wanted a shot. I kept the sample issue of “Duke Medicine Health News,” even though it said watching television for more than two hours a day doubles the risk of a heart attack. But my heart doesn’t feel threatened, especially when that glass of merlot recommended by the fine people at Tufts is working its magic.

      Then UCLA’s Division of Geriatrics made a pitch for its “Healthy Years” newsletter, which described how our sense of smell diminishes as we age. Of course, that may not be a bad thing.

      Harvard Medical School weighed in with its Men’s Health Watch newsletter, promising to rock my sex life. Sorry Harvard, you’re too late. If you want to rock something, try my chair.

      I get so many sample issues now that I‘ve become one of the best informed non-physicians in town. Go ahead, ask me anything.

      No wait. I think I’ll start my own wellness newsletter. I’ll call it “Old Doc Walton’s Home Remedies, Wellness Tips, and Smart-aleck Comments.” I think a little irreverent humor helps in these situations. You can be one of my charter subscribers.

      Remember: Feed a cold. Starve a fever. Don’t squeeze a pimple. And stay off ladders. Consider this your sample