Preview of Your Coming Attractions

When I retired after 40 years of writing columns for the San Jose Mercury News, I figured I'd said about all I could say. Wrong. I've realized that at age 76, I'm about 10 years older than the oldest baby boomers, who are now turning 66. My very average body has had a lot of experiences in those 10 years. I've learned a lot that could be helpful to people just starting on that same path -- what to do, what to avoid, what to keep an eye on.. Consider me your canary-in-the-coalmine for the boomer generation. Tune in regularly for the heads-up advice.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Doctor Is In

     In terms of doctor-patient relationships, you’ve picked a great time to get older. There actually are doctor-patient relationships now. More like partnerships, if you’re wise.
     Not too many years ago, the doctor was king.  Whatever he or she said was law. The doctor diagnosed and spoke. We listened. That was all.
     Today, we tell the doctor our concerns (well thought-out in advance, to make sure all our bases are covered and no time is wasted). The doctor listens – they want and need our input -- and suggests courses of treatment.  If the suggestions seem reasonable, in light of our own personal knowledge of the situation, we follow. If not and we want a second opinion, we ask for it. If the doctor doesn’t agree, we get a new doctor.
     We patients have more ways now to inform ourselves about our physical condition and the afflictions that may strike.  We go to health libraries. We go online, although it’s wise to take what we learn there with a grain of salt (or, sometimes, an entire shaker). Online information from such known sources as the Mayo Clinic should carry more weight with the savvy consumer – and that’s what we are, consumers of health care. Trusting spurious sources – there are a lot of snake-oil salesmen out there – does no one any good. Neither does getting all hypochondriacal about all the possible ailments we come across. This is real life, not a rerun of  “House.” Odds are that we don’t suffer from them all.
     But an informed patient, working together with an up-to-date doctor, can get the best possible care. That’s what everybody wants this time – patient and doctor, together. And the best isn’t too much to ask. 

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