Friday, February 19, 2010

"Baby Aspirin"

My cardiologist, Dr, T, recently switched me from a blood pressure medicine whose side effect is it makes you tired to a blood pressure medicine whose side effect is it makes you light headed. There are apparently no blood pressure medicines with no side effects. You just pick the one whose side effects you object to the least.

Sometimes, a medicine’s side effects are, like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You’ve seen the TV commercial for the pill that helps you stop smoking, but among its side effects are “suicidal thoughts or actions”? That would be your “no-brainer.”

“I don’t crave cigarettes anymore. But I found myself walking onto the freeway.”

“What else have you got?”

Dr. T also recommended I take a baby aspirin every day. Baby aspirin. It’s cute. It’s tiny. It’s yellow.

I don’t want to take it.

I don’t want to take any medicine. Some, however, are necessary. The others I question, fueled by my pea-brained knowledge of medicine, along with an annoying (to doctors) dose of stubbornness.

Baby aspirin decreases the risk of heart attack and stroke. The thing is, tests in connection with my recent surgery to repair a heart valve indicated that my arteries were clear and my heart was strong. Dr. T himself informed me that, this being the case, considering my current age, I am an unlikely candidate for a heart attack or a stroke.

It’s a simple question of logic. If baby aspirin is for people at risk for a heart attack or a stroke, and I’m not at risk for a heart attack or a stroke,

Why do I have to take baby aspirin?

When I posed this, to me, entirely reasonable question, Dr. T, he gave me a look. The look took me back to my early twenties.

I’m sitting in my dentist’s office in Toronto – Dr. Singer – a wiry, rather attractive fellow, who resembled a movie star of that period. Or maybe it was a hockey player. In Canada, the two are interchangeable.

It could have been Dick Duff, a talented player for the Leafs, who, upon unexpectedly being traded to Montreal, wrote a touching letter in the newspaper, thanking Leaf fans for their acceptance and support. Dr. Singer looked like Dick Duff.

Or maybe it was David Janssen.


I’m in the chair, and in comes Dr. Singer, holding the x-rays which he has just taken of my teeth. I guess that’s redundant. What else would a dentist x-ray?

“You have a broken foot.”

“What do you mean?”

“I pointed the machine wrong.”

No. It’s my teeth.

Dr. Singer has a serious look on his face, covering, I believe, a gleeful feeling. The serious look says, “You have a ton of cavities.” The gleeful feeling says, “I’m going to Miami Beach!

“You have nine cavities,” he announces, as he slides the x-rays onto a screen and switches on an illuminating light, so he can point out the cavities, and I can be confused, because I don’t see anything.

“Nine cavities?” I moan. “Are they big ones?”

“Four are big. Five are little.”

I try desperately to collect my wits, seriously buffeted by the recent bad news.

“What if you filled the big ones, and left the little ones for another time?” I suggest.

That’s when Dr. Singer gives me the look, the look Dr. T mirrored, when I asked why I had to take baby aspirin. The look was a mixture of pity with helplessness. Dr. T let it speak for itself. Dr. Singer augmented it with three ominous-sounding words.

“They’re your teeth,” he responded.

That was all I needed to hear.

“Fill them all”, I instructed.

It never fails.

“They’re your teeth.”

(Unspoken) “It’s your heart.”

I take a baby aspirin every morning.


steve macdonald said...

This is where you and I differ completely. When I hear, “They’re your teeth,” I dig in my heels and go exactly the opposite direction.

A few years back I lost an old filling. Before I knew it, the molar had cracked and there I was, a textbook candidate for a root canal and a crown. Together these two procedures are so expensive (and so not covered by my insurance) that the dentist, after briefly explaining my options, sat me down with one of his assistants. Her speciality was financing.

I let her throw the numbers at me, and then rather than schedule the drilling and torture session that would also cost me an arm, a leg, and several fingers from the remaining hand, I calmly requested an extraction.

The entire office was flabbergasted. Nobody EVER goes that route, I was told.

Well, I did. After all, they were MY teeth.

I saved a bundle, and to this day I’ve never had a second’s regret.

But you know, as cheap as baby aspirin are, I might be inclined to go the same way you did on that one Earl. It’s not like you’re in for three years of monthly payments with those.

James said...

My dentist just replaced all my old fillings and gave me a crown, siphoned my bank account, and my teeth still hurt.

Next time I'm just going to buy a kitchen blender and a box of straws and pocket the savings.

A. Buck Tooth said...

I’m assuming they’ve got you on more than aspirin; so all I want to know is, have you gotten to the point where you've invested in the plastic pill box with a compartment for every day of the month? Or are you one of those week to week guys? I find nothing says "you're pathetic" like a full calendar of medication staring you in the face every morning.

I do disagree about the 81mg. baby aspirin. For some of us, even that old standby is still a little pricier than necessary – especially when there are only brand names. So I spring for the 325mg. PG-13 traditional dosage and chop 'em up into 81 mg. quads with a cleaver – more than half as cheap. Why it's almost homeopathy?

But if you plan on cutting yourself in the process, it’s best to take care of your cleavage before taking the aspirin. They're anticoagulants, and I'm pretty sure the desire to save on baby aspirin is why the British and Russian royal families had so many "bleeders." .

Killing time now until NBC gets through the figure skating, on to dental indenture...

In November, our dentist of 20 years, saved my problem teeth the embarrassment of realizing they were sending us to the poorhouse without passing Go, by withholding their actual names in the “estimate.” Identifying them only by number, careful to point out multiple offenders requiring procedures for each. The guilty mouthful being: 6,7,8,8,8,9,10,11,23,23,23,
27,27,27,29,29,30,31,31 – tipping the scale at $13,100. But to be fair, there's a free toothbrush and floss.

After a stop at the in-house financial consultant, whose actual title is "Financial Consultant," I heeded everyone's advice to seek a second opinion. Whatever it was had to be better than $13,000?

The second DDS, happened to be one of my wife’s students in a certain avocation. $22,300. I then realized how he could afford the somewhat pricey hobby facilitated by my wife's instruction. Yes there was an addition surface involved, but I don't recall asking to "dental double down."

I was so flabberghasted I could spit. Except they don't even let you do that anymore. Now they also suck you dry with a vacuum.

Epilogue: After reaching the insurance maximum, hauled tooth over to Baylor College of Dentistry, where I qualified for a timely tooth implant study. Worried they would be comparing experimental procedures, I asked, “Can I have the one you think is probably going to be the good one?” However, the procedure isn't experimental at all, it just compares those of us who get the implant with those who don't. I get one of the foremost implant surgeons in the country, and after 5 return visits to see if I can still chew steak, I get all my money back?

I'm now searching Craigslist for a penile implant study.

Brian Scully said...

Take the baby aspirin, Earl... it'll help prevent a stroke and make you less cranky when you have colic.

Pidge said...

As a child of the 60's, I learned it's always good to question authority, especially when it doesn't make sense.
My dentist, saving up for a trip around the world, pestered me for years to let him extract my wisdom teeth. Since they weren't bothering me and I had a suspicious nature, I clung to them for dear life. I've never had a problem with them. And that is why I am so smart today!
Our synagogue had a 2% policy. Dues were based on 2% of your gross salary. That is, unless you were rich. If you earned over $100,000 (that used to be rich) you couldn't be expected to pay so much, so those guys got a break while the rest of us were over-assessed! Does this make sense? Not to me. I protested.
Glad you're feeling better, though. Whatever it takes!

YEKIMI said...

This is sad. If we eat all of the baby aspirin, what will be left to row into adult aspirin?

YEKIMI said...

grow* [damn typos]