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.