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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
AIKEN-AUGUSTA’S MOST SALUBRIOUS NEWSPAPER • FOUNDED IN 2006
ONCE UPON A TIME
Although rates of cigarette smoking have dropped over the years, from 42% of US adults in 1965 to just 14% today, there are some 34 million Americans who still smoke. That is tragic because despite the progress, smoking is responsible for an estimated 480,000 deaths worldwide every year, about 1 in 5 deaths. It remains the single largest preventable cause of illness and death in the world. On the plus side, millions of people have successfully quit despite the challenges in doing so. It isn’t easy, but it can be done, and is well worth the effort it takes. Cold turkey doesn’t usually work. In other words, you can’t quit smoking in one day. But you can quit for one day. That’s what this week’s Great American Smokeout is all about. Give it a shot, just for one day. It’s a step in the right direction, one that many people are very glad they took in years past. For more information, support, and lots of helpful tools and resources, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at https://www.cancer.org/ +
The scene above — an entire family sharing a meal together — might have been the norm for many of us growing up. It wasn’t just a holiday event, either. It happened five or six or seven nights a week, and in some households the same thing happened at breakfast, and sometimes at lunchtime too. People who study such things say in many families this custom has gone the way of black & white TVs and 8-track tapes. It’s toast. What happened to this age-old tradition? And is it worth trying to bring back? Simply put, mealtimes have changed because the whole world has changed. Decades ago when suppertime was a daily family event, moms were often of the stay-at-home variety. They were busy all day, but they had time to prepare a family meal every night. No one came to the table wearing earbuds; no one brought a phone or a game console to the dinner table and spent their time fixated on it instead of the real live people right
in front of them. Divorce was a comparative rarity back then, meaning that single parents and their sometimes precarious finances were much more unusual than they are now, so second and third jobs were much more uncommon then too. Every family today has to deal with the higher cost of living and the added “necessities” of life now: our parents or grandparents did not pay for television programming, internet access, or telephones, let alone multiple phone lines. The faster pace of life today means that fast food and fast eating are the new normal. Even if a family eats “together,” that might mean everyone grabs something from the kitchen and eats it in front of a TV, computer, or game console, adults in the living room, kids in their bedrooms. Being a society-wide change, is it possible to reverse this trend? Is it even worth the effort? Please see ONCE UPON A TIME page 3
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THE FIRST 40 YEARS ARE ALWAYS THE HARDEST
PARENTHOOD by David W. Proefrock, PhD
Your 18 year-old son is a freshman in college. He just came home for the first time and brought with him two full bags of laundry that he dumped in the laundry room. You never agreed to do his laundry and now that he is in college, you don’t think you should do it for him. You made sure he knew how to do laundry before he went to school. He has said nothing about his dirty laundry, but it is apparent that he intends for you to take care of it for him. What do you do? A. He surely has a lot of other things planned for the weekend. Go ahead and do the laundry for him. B. Just leave the bags of laundry where they are and don’t do anything. C. Tell him that you are not going to do his laundry for him. Let him know that he is welcome to use the washer and dryer while he is at home, but he will have to do the laundry himself. D. Do the laundry for him this time; but tell him from now on, he will be expected to do it himself. If you answered: A. You have already said that you don’t think you should be doing his laundry for him. If you do this, you should just plan on doing his laundry for him whenever he comes home. He’ll be busy every time he visits. B. This is a natural response to his actions which is often the best thing to do. However, it will inevitably lead to a scene when he gets ready to go back to school, and you probably don’t want his visit to end negatively. Tell him you won’t be doing his laundry before it is too late for him to do it himself. C. This is the best response. It is direct communication that allows for a solution before he leaves to go back to school D. If he is going to be expected to do his own laundry, there is no reason to wait for his next visit to begin. That will just make it more likely that he will leave his laundry for you next time. Your child is actually an adult. The best way to handle situations with him is through direct communication and a clear explanation of the expectations you have for him when he is at home. + Dr. Proefrock is a retired clinical and forensic child psychologist.
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PART K OF A 26-PART SERIES
IS FOR KERATIN Keratin is some pretty amazing stuff. A fibrous structura l protein, keratin is all over the body, inside and out, and those bodies aren’t just people: keratin is found in all vertebrate creatures. In humans it’s the stuff with which our skin, hair and nails are built, and keratin also helps form the tough outer structure of various internal organs. Humans are far from indestructible, as we prove every day, but keratin comes close, and we’ve all viewed the evidence personally. Perhaps we’ve seen a photo of an ancient sarcophagus opened or an archaeological discovery unearthed that includes the mummified
NOVEMBER 19, 2021 remains of someone who died thousands of years ago. Usually all that remains is bones, teeth, and yes, hair. Closer to home, maybe the family cat occasionally hacks up a hairball. That’s the only way to get rid of swallowed hair, because keratin is impervious to water (known as being hydrophobic) and even strong digestive acids, whether in cats or humans. Cats inadvertently build hairballs in their stomachs through grooming, but some people do the same thing by a compulsive and fortunately rare habit called tricophagia, a word with ancient Greek roots literally meaning “hair eating.” While hair can seem smooth, soft, and silky when it’s where it belongs, in the stomach it grows into a hard and dense mass that can interfere with digestion and even cause death. Some human hairballs have been surgically removed that weighed nearly 10 pounds. If someone was looking for something to compulsively eat (not recommended in any situation), hair is certainly readily available. The average scalp alone has about 100,000 hairs sprouting from it. A man’s beard adds another 30,000. Tally up every follicle on an adult human (also not
recommended) and the number will reach into the millions. Hair is there. What makes keratin so durable? Aside from being extremely insoluble in water, its structure is in effect a coil that is then coiled (called superhelical or a supercoil), like rope or cable composed of multiple coiled strands which are then coiled around each other. The result is a superstable physical structure that is also reinforced chemically by the presence of large amounts of the amino acid cysteine in every keratin molecule. Cysteine confers additional strength and rigidity, but also something else. Human hair is almost 15% cysteine, and cysteine contains sulfur, which is the reason burning hair and skin smells so pungent. In addition, keratinocytes — the cells which actually make keratin — build keratin from two proteins, one acid and one base, meaning that keratin is basically an epoxy. Keratinocytes also tether filaments across keratin cells by what one journal called “spot welds,” in effect binding cells with intracellular cables for even greater tensile strength. Please see KERATIN page 3
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ONCE UPON A TIME… from page 1 The answer is a definite yes. Consider a term all of us know quite well that we had never heard of two years ago: social distancing. The family unit is no place for social distancing; it should be a place of companionship and togetherness. Since a 2018 survey found that American families spend an average of 37 minutes of daily “quality time” together, things can only improve. The book The Surprising Power of Family Meals by Miriam Weinstein says family meals can become “a bulwark against the pressures we all face every day.” And those pressures are probably at an all-time high for many today, especially children. A calm and peaceful environment over a shared meal offers a perfect occasion for communication that builds family togetherness and offers children emotional stability. But it can go far beyond that. The U.S. National Center on Addiction and Substance
KERATIN… from page 2
The strength and stability of keratin also comes into play in its role fortifying epithelial cells. Although the word epithelial literally means “upon the nipple,” it is generally used to describe tissues that cover or enclose other parts of the body. Examples include our skin and the tough outer structure of various internal organs and blood vessels throughout the body. Epithelial cells could be accurately described as extremely durable, flexible and adaptive armor plating
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
Abuse at Columbia University reports that kids who eat with their family five times a week get better grades than children who don’t have family meals, and also have fewer problems with anxiety and boredom. A study conducted in Spain concluded that people who eat alone have a reduced risk of suffering from eating disorders. Among the keys to success in family meals: regularity; just do it. Keep things peaceful; don’t allow the dinner table to be a place where arguments happen. Keep the vicinity screen-free: no TV, tablets or cell phones allowed. Calls and texts can be answered afterward. Family meals are not a cure-all for the ills of society or families, but they offer the potential for great benefit. They are one of the many things that demonstrate that health doesn’t always come from our doctor or pharmacist. Some things we can administer ourselves. +
inside and outside the body. Researchers give keratin extremely high marks for its topological properties. That means, by one definition, “the properties of a geometric object that are preserved under continuous deformations, such as stretching, twisting, crumpling, and bending; that is, without closing holes, opening holes, tearing, or passing through itself.” As that applies to keratin, the stuff can be pulled, pushed, poked, bent and twisted without losing its
shape, even on a molecular level. That is exactly what you would order up for anything as important as the skin that holds us together, as well as all the vital structures within that are securely encased in keratin-infused epithelial cells. People suffering from malnutrition, or even a very poor diet, often have thinning, brittle hair, and that visual illustrates an important point: a healthy diet promotes a ready supply of keratin, and that’s important since we shed a million skin cells every day. +
Why does my arm hurt after getting a shot? This is a nearly universal reaction to injections, and on the surface (or just below it) it doesn’t really make a lot of sense. After all, the invasion into the body is accomplished with a very small and very sharp instrument. The underlying tissues suffer little to no trauma whatsoever. Logic would suggest no pain after the injection itself. Since that isn’t the case, what is the reason? One factor is connected to how the shot is delivered. Some vaccines, like the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, can be administered subcutaneously, just under the skin’s surface. But shots like the flu and COVID vaccines and tetanus shots are given as intramuscularly. Those clips of people getting the shot on the news always show the needle going way in. Being a deeper shot down into muscle, there is going to be some minor temporary pain. It’s natural. Another, even better reason for the discomfort comes from the contents of the syringe. The whole point of a vaccine is triggering a response from the body’s immune system. Obviously that response will ideally be systemic and long-term. But before any of that happens there is a short-term response that happens fairly immediately in the vicinity where the vaccine has been released. The vaccine is working. The body is already jumping into action at the site of the injection. The discomfort is a good sign, evidence that the body’s immune system is working. There are ways to minimize the pain — and ways not to. The Centers for Disease Control does not recommend taking aspirin or other pain relievers before getting the COVID vaccine specifically. There simply isn’t enough data to know how the effectiveness of the vaccine might be altered. There may be no effect, but if the CDC is erring, it’s erring on the side of caution. A better way to lessen post-vaccine pain is to relax your arm before getting the shot. Tense muscles mean the needle has to work harder and the result will be additional soreness. Some people apply ice to the site after a shot for pain relief, and another tactic is mild, moderate use of the affected arm. Moving it around promotes blood flow and healing, and helps dissipate the vaccine into the body. +
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www.AugustaRx.com The Medical Examiner’s mission: to provide information on topics of health and wellness of interest to general readers, to offer information to assist readers in wisely choosing their healthcare providers, and to serve as a central source of salubrious news within every part of the Augusta medical community. Direct editorial and advertising inquiries to: Daniel R. Pearson, Publisher & Editor E-mail: Dan@AugustaRx.com
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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
#153 IN A SERIES
Who is this? ON THE ROAD TO BETTER HEALTH
edical pioneers come in all shapes and sizes. Some actively seek breakthroughs through trial and error and decades of research. Some gain their place in medical history inadvertently, or even after their death. Some are only six years old when they make their mark. Some are little girls from Tulsa, Oklahoma. But only one was named Joan Marlar. In late September of 1937, Joan’s mother took her to see the family doctor, who diagnosed Joan with strep throat and prescribed a new wonder drug, the antibiotic sulfanilamide. Joan spent the next nine days, the final nine days of her life, wracked by nausea, vomiting, and intense pain. Her mother wrote a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt several weeks later after sulfanilamide was implicated in Joan’s death and more than 100 others, many of them also children. She implored the president to take action to prevent the sale of unsafe drugs. The letter first landed on the desk of Eleanor Roosevelt, who read it aloud to her husband. That letter started a ball rolling that within months transformed the Food and Drug Administration from a toothless bureaucracy into an effective enforcer of food and drug safety. In late 1937, however, the pharmaceutical industry was largely self-governed. Massengill, the Tennessee company which manufactured the product known as Elixir of Sulfanilamide, never rigorously tested the product prior to beginning retail sales, nor was it required to. From the time the company’s chief chemist, Harold Watkins, finalized the formula until the first batch was shipped out to distributors was about 7 weeks. One physician in tiny Mount Olive, Mississippi (2016 population: 975) lost six patients for whom he prescribed sulfanilamide. As the scope of the crisis quickly grew (the product was on the market for just 4 weeks) and its death toll passed 100, the FDA was powerless to do much against Massengill. In effect, selling poison was legal under the laws on the books in late 1937. The FDA only possessed the power to request a product be withdrawn from sale if it was mislabeled, and fines were tiny. The only federal sanctions imposed against the S.E. Massengill Company were 174 counts of mislabeling, which carried a total fine of $26,000. The charges were based on the fact that, chemically speaking, an elixir was by definition an alcoholbased product, and Elixir of Sulfanilamide contained no alcohol. The Massengill Company defended its product as safe, and the Bristol, Tennessee, Chamber of Commerce (where Massengill was the largest employer) endorsed company chairman Sam Massengill as a man of honor and integrity. Three months after paying its $26,000 in federal fines, Massengill was elected president of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. Almost two months to the day after Joan Marlar was taken to her doctor, her mother received a letter from FDA chief Walter Campbell which suggested she could take some comfort in the knowledge that her letter had been the catalyst for great change. Ironically, her original letter to Roosevelt had said, “It is easy for people to say, ‘Try to think that she died that others might live.’ It is easier to say when it doesn’t strike in your own home.” The official death toll of the so-called “sulfanilamide tragedy” was 105, but that total doesn’t include Massengill chief chemist Harold Watkins. Tortured by guilt for his role in the tragedy, he took his own life in January 1939 at age 58. + * Editor’s note: A review of all installments of this series uncovered a numbering error some time ago. “Who is this?” in our previous issue was listed as “#150 in a series.” The number above is correct.
A PATIENT’S PERSPECTIVE Editor’s note: Augusta writer Marcia Ribble, Ph.D., is a retired English and creative writing professor who offers her unique perspective as a patient. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org by Marcia Ribble Friday I went to the wedding of my niece. As with all families, family gatherings like her wedding are often the only time our extended families are together in the same space. Ours was no exception and I loved it! I was privileged to meet my sister’s oldest friends whose names I have heard for years. And I got to meet not only them, but also their husbands and children. Even recognizing some of the family was challenging since I haven’t seen them in so many years. It’s not a fault of any of us. I lived thousands of miles away, so returning to the area where I was born and raised (Michigan, if you missed the news) has given me opportunities that didn’t exist before, and given them to my family too. Getting me there and back is no longer as easy as walking out to my car and driving there. Now there is a wheelchair involved and transfers into and out of the car, thankfully accomplished without incident, and it’s no longer my car I’m going in, but my daughter’s. When I left the area, my nieces and nephews were still young and without children, some of them were not even married yet. Now they are married, have children who I met for the first time, and there is even a great grandson for my sister Gretchen. Mike and Rhoda have Alice and Mikey. Alice is about 7 and loves to dance. Mikey is shy. Alice was named for my mother. Mikey, for his dad, of course. Heidi and Adam have Etta and Joey, who were not there because they both had a football game. She’s the kicker and scored 7 points in a winning game. All the kids have kept growing while I’ve been shrinking, so they seem very tall to me. Some of my kids were there. Frank
came, as did his daughter Rebecca and her boyfriend, Wayne. They are very tall too, but they were already tall before I shrank so much, so that didn’t surprise me. Vicki brought me and her son Richlynd and granddaughter Ayana. Ayana is still short, but Richlynd is like the other tall kids, at or beyond six feet tall. Lee was in Baltimore making the Covid vaccine, and his daughter is in Ann Arbor at the U of Michigan. My other two girls, Dawn and Viv, are in Georgia and North Carolina with their families. I used to be tall for a girl, about 5 ft 8 inches. The years have taken a toll on my height, due to taking 10 milligrams of dexamethasone a day for two years in the 1980s to deal with my platelet shortage. That’s under control now, but the drug causes your bones to disintegrate over time. I have degenerative arthritis in my spine and numerous spinal fractures, and etc. Between that and two knee replacements and a severely broken hip, I now stand a whopping 5 ft 2 inches. It reminds me of my growing taller days when with each new year I could reach higher shelves in the cupboards, but now it’s the opposite and each year reaching high shelves becomes less possible. Richlynd comes over when I need something beyond my reach and I manage pretty well most of the time. Looking out across the parking lot from where I’m writing this there is a beautiful tree, a big one, with leaves the color of peaches, although the color is slow this year because I brought the hot Georgia weather with me. It’s mid-70s today but will be down to 58 high degrees by next Friday. We don’t typically have snow until December, but an occasional earlier snow catches trees with leaves still unfallen and causes a lot of power outages due to broken limbs. Kind of like our ice storm did in Georgia a few years ago. +
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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
EVERYBODY LOVES A GOOD STORY
BY J.B. COLLUM
They say you can’t teach an old dog new place! I was a little hesitant because I had a lot tricks, but this old dog has learned a lot of new of things to do and because it was almost exactly tricks lately. Some because of health issues, a year ago that my brother and I took our father others because as I have gotten older I have there for a weekend trip that finally allowed learned to value what’s important. me to see how far my father had deteriorated. Many of these changes are born of regret. We didn’t have a whole lot of fun that trip, as I I have heard people say they have no regrets, chronicled here last year, and I was afraid a trip and those people scare me. I know that I have up there at the same time of year would trigger mentioned this before in my column, but it some grief. I was right. It did, but it didn’t last. bears repeating. Only saints and psychopaths I spent a lot of time alone outside on Saturday have no regrets. A trip to the lake this past because it was much colder and windier than weekend helped me to focus on the more imSunday and that kept the rest of our extended portant things. family mostly indoors. It was therapeutic for I admit to being stubborn about a lot of me. When sadness threatened to overcome me, things. One of them is what food I remembered all the good times and drink I put in my body. I we had with my father at MistleI may be an old toe State Park when I was just a eat what I like, in the quantities I desire. Diabetes forced me to dog, but look at my boy. On Sunday, I shared a lot of make some changes here, but those stories, once it was a little new tricks! after taking a stab at controlling warmer and the fire I built outside it with diet, I gave in and took lured some listeners outside for some medicine instead. my stories. Dad would take us for Another thing that has concerned me is hikes on trails and he’d point out the different artificial sweeteners. For decades, I have been plants and trees. He would lead us across rocks a diet soda fiend. I drank as many as six a day. and over some boulders. To the boy I was then, My lovely wife would stick to drinking water we were Louis & Clark and company, discovand would tell me how much she liked it and ering a way across America. Dad imbued me how much better it would be for me. I always with a sense of adventure and a love of the great thought she was just fooling herself. To me, outdoors, and I am grateful to this day for it. water tasted like nothing. I wanted something I felt a lot of emotions at the lake this past sweet and bubbly. The problem was that as soon weekend, and I had a breakthrough Saturday as I finished one, I wanted another. Sweet drinks night that made Sunday even better. I admitted never quenched my thirst. I don’t like being a to my wife and daughter how much harder my slave to anything, so I decided to try to cut back. father’s death has been for me than I was letting I have attempted this dozens of times over the on. There were some tears - okay, a lot of tears years, and I even made it a month once, but I - as I explained that I felt regret and guilt over only did it then to prove that I could do without not doing more for Dad. About a month before it. I am doing it now to improve my health. Over he died, he told me how much he wanted a trip the past several years there has been a growto the mountains. With his health declining so ing mountain of evidence about the dangers of quickly I knew it was unlikely, but I was trying some of the artificial sweeteners in drinks and to figure out a way to make it happen. I was too other foods. I dismissed them all, but with my late. It never came to be. My wife and daughter long list of health issues, some of them still not reassured me that we had taken good care of completely explained, and my inability to lose Dad and that we made him very happy the last weight and keep it off, I decided it was time for two plus years while he and Mom lived with a drastic change. I tapered off the number of diet us. We had taken him to the mountains twice drinks until the past few days when I have had in that time as well and the last time was very none. Instead, I have switched to water. I like it difficult. now. I guess I’m fooling myself into it, but in the I also felt regret and guilt about not being best way. When I drink water, I don’t get thirsty more aggressive in trying to save his life at the again when I finish a big glass. It is also saving end, but I was only following his wishes. He had me a lot of money, so there is that too. said multiple times that he didn’t want to be That did leave a hole in my life though. Where kept alive with tubes and machines and I made would I get my caffeine? I have never been a big sure his wishes were followed, even though it fan of coffee, but as I did with water, I decided was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. to give it a chance. Now, I really enjoy it. My I suppose that one of the ways I am trying to father always liked a nice big cup of coffee in honor him is also like a gift from him to me. I the morning, and I usually made it for him. Now am learning to appreciate the things he cherI make it for myself. I make it the same way and ished even more than I did in the past. Things I use his old mug. like family, the beauty of creation, a boyish I’ve also given more consideration to how I sense of adventure that defies aging, and a good spend my time. I’m outdoors more instead of cup of coffee. + in front of the television. I still spend too much time watching television (mostly YouTube. It is J.B. Collum is a local novelist, huhard to climb out of that rabbit hole sometimes), morist and columnist who wants to but I am working on it. This past weekend, we be Mark Twain when he grows up. were invited to join my wife’s extended family at He may be reached at johnbcollum@ a cabin in Mistletoe State Park. What a beautiful gmail.com
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THE EMPTY CHAIR by Ken Wilson Steppingstones to Recovery
I remember how odd it felt to have the first Thanksgiving holiday with my family after my younger sister died of an addictive disease. Nobody really knew what to say about the chair where she customarily sat for dinner, so nobody said anything. It was as if she had been with us for 35 years, and then – poof! – she gone, even from memory. Her face was in all of the family Thanksgiving photos, then suddenly it wasn’t. It was the proverbial Elephant in the Living Room subject, if you remember the story of the family who took a baby elephant into their home for temporary shelter but the elephant grew quickly and couldn’t get out of the door! So the family took turns keeping the odor down, the animal fed and watered while neighbors watched and commented, but the embarrassed family always changed
the subject and wouldn’t talk about the situation. Fortunate indeed is the family nowadays who has not had the ravages of addiction affect at least their extended family. At holidays, emotions range from pity and grief to rage and hate when a loved one pierces the hearts who love him or her by lying, stealing or even dying early as a result of addiction. That pain is permanent. It just does not go away in this lifetime. The pain can decrease, but it never leaves. It is a loss for everybody. Society in general is more openly recognizing the “family disease” of addiction these days as the rich and famous join the poor and downtrodden with death, divorce, chaos, bankruptcy, hospitalization, and public humiliation caused by alcohol and drugs. Addiction is an equal opportunity illness. And due to genetic and environmental influences some are more prone than others to
contract the illness. Statistically, if you have alcoholism or addiction in your family history, particularly on the male side, you have an 80% more likely chance to contract the same illness yourself, even if you start out drinking/ using socially only. Your brain metabolizes alcohol differently than someone with no family history of the disease of alcoholism. Of course, one can also become an alcoholic with no family history simply by drinking enough, long enough. The family what, Ken? Yep…the family disease. Just like an illness that affects one part of our body ends up affecting the whole body, what affects one member of the family affects everybody. Frequently I hear a parent say, “Son, this is your problem. You fix it. I’m not coming to the Family Workshop at your treatment program, nor am I donating to your recovery. I’m out of this equation.” Not!
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
For a minute, step away from the topic of addiction and pretend your loved one gets cancer or heart disease, or even the common cold. Families navigate their way around these diseases with normalcy…finances are altered perhaps, rides to the doctor are shared, or boundaries are followed as the one with a nasty cold gets well. I sometimes use a clothes-hanger mobile to illustrate this in my group meetings. I start by holding one hanger, then add others onto each end of it, then others on each ends of those hangers. With skill, I can balance the thing pretty well! Then I show what happens when the family balance is thrown off even just a little bit by moving one of the hangers on the bottom level. Down it all goes like a house of cards. It’s the same way an addicted loved one affects the fine tuning and balance of the rest of the family.
THIS IS YOUR BRAIN A monthly series by an Augusta drug treatment professional
But wait…can I move one of the bottom hangers a little and still keep the whole mobile balanced? Yes! But to do so I have to move other hangers on the contraption to allow for balance to be re-established! We all have to alter our lives when a loved one becomes addicted. Next week at Thanksgiving dinner, pay attention to that empty chair. Talk about them. Out loud, even. The one who used to sit there taught you a lot, gave you a lot, cost you a lot. To pretend they aren’t there only causes you more confusion and pain. And besides, who wants indigestion on Thanksgiving Day? +
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A most exasperating day not work. So why hurry? Anyway, Jim had surgery 5 days before I did. I guess they wanted him back at work so It all started out taking unused stuff from he could pay taxes to fluff up the Medicare the house to the barn for storage, something program and give foreign aid to 3rd world most old folks do. But then the bottom fell countries who hate us. out of my Pleasure Bucket. I fell and broke My surgery went well, so they say. I guess two bones in my elbow. And my butt pained they gave me some Michael Jackson Juice something fierce. Father Time must have (Propofol). Unlike Michael, I woke up. I tripped me, dad-burn him. don’t remember a thing. Except now they My brother, Jim, was there to look after say I have a fractured pelvis, but nothing me. That’s what big brothers do. could be done about that. I did Two half snakes not need a special scan with a But then Jim fell and broke his ankle. We have no excuses. We Medicare code number to tell me are better were not drunk or anything like my derriere hurt. I figured that than one that. Just trudging around doing out on my own. whole snake old folks stuff. Then came the Rehab Cen They took me to the ER where ter. Most people think a Rethey X-rayed and scanned everything Medihab Center is for drug addicts. Not so. I’m care would pay for. Finally, they said I had surrounded by all sorts of semi-decrepit souls a broken elbow — as if I did not know that. with various traumatic maladies who make My elbow had more crooks and turns than me thankful I only have a busted elbow with a Smokey Mountain backroad. They said I assorted screws and plates and an insulted needed to see an orthopedic surgeon right derriere. away. Sent me home with an unladylike cast I go to PT every day. (Now I know why (it did not match any outfit in my closet) and they call it Pain and Trauma.) They say PT some pain pills that were at best questionis good for me, and I believe them, so I do able and at their worst, useless. everything they tell me to do. Who can refuse Seeing the orthopod took 4 days. That’s smiling faces who empathize with every the definition of “right away.” He allowed as grimace and shriek and howl that escapes my how I needed surgery, which he scheduled throat while they dictate another pain-inducing for 7 days later. How thoughtful of him, not contortion in the name of faster recovery? Bless wanting to rush an old lady into surgery. their little hearts, they don’t know any better. Heck, why not wait two weeks? It’s just a I am getting better. Pretty soon Medicare busted elbow on a little old lady who does Please see EXASPERATING page 16 by Bodacious Bonnie as told to Flatwoods Frank
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More Americans have died on US roads since 2000 than in World Wars I & II combined
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
HUMAN BEHAVIOR REFLECT ON THIS
People often say that it takes a big change to make someone step back and by Jeremy Hertza, Psy.D. reflect on what’s important. People also say that even during the hardest times, there’s always just a tiny bit of good we can take away from it. COVID-19 is probably the biggest change most of us will experience in our lifetimes. I’m not discounting the grief, sadness and loss any of us may have felt in the past nearly two years. But we can’t live in that loss. It’s essential for our mental health and emotional balance to recognize all of life: the good, along with the bad. Family First If you’re anything like me, life before COVID was all about keeping those balls in the air. I think most of us can agree we didn’t slow down enough and really see the fundamental things that give our lives quality. We were in a rhythm (or possibly a rut), and humans find it soothing to have structure and routines. COVID upended all that. But one of the positives many of us talk about is how we had more time together as a family. It was definitely hard—teaching homeschool while working is no joke—but can you imagine any other time when we were able to all be at home, take walks together, play games and just get to know each other again?
Let’s take a look at a common situation on CSRA roads, and no doubt around the country. In the illustration above, the green car will turn left after the red car clears the intersection. There is no green arrow for a protected left at this particular imaginary intersection, nor a flashing yellow arrow signifying turn left with caution when safe to do so. Let’s explain a couple of things we can’t determine from this simple graphic alone. One is that the red car is the last of several oncoming vehicles that have proceeded straight through the intersection. A second point is that the green car has been sitting in the middle of the intersection as they all passed, waiting for an opportunity to safely turn. POP QUIZ! Has the driver of the green car committed a traffic violation by entering the intersection before it’s safe to complete his left turn? Judging by observations made by the Medical Examiner’s expert team of traffic investigators, this one might result in a hung jury. Quite a few area drivers when making unprotected left turns remain stationary when the light turns green, staying behind the white line across the intersection and only pulling forward when they can safely complete their left turn. Conversely, quite a few area drivers pull forward into the intersection as soon as the light turns green, even if there are two lanes of oncoming traffic stacked up with 50 cars apiece. Who’s right? Who is breaking the law? The answers: neither driver is breaking the law. There is no law in Georgia or most other states that prohibits easing into an intersection while waiting for a safe opportunity to turn left. So who is right? Well, there’s no law that requires a driver to pull forward either, so it boils down to a matter of personal preference. Neither practice is right or wrong according to traffic laws. Here are a few arguments for and against the practice. In theory, a person who does not pull partially into the intersection could wind up sitting there for hours in heavy traffic situations. Literally. And theoretically. In practice, not pulling forward can almost guarantee a longer wait, since left turns that would be easily and safely doable from the middle of an intersection will not be possible (or safe) from a starting point well back behind the crosswalk. (Side point: if it isn’t illegal to come to a stop in the pedestrian crosswalk - a point we’ll look up at another time - it is at the very least rude and inconsiderate.) Additionally, safe traffic flow is smooth traffic flow. When a driver sits motionless through a light or two rather than pulling forward (which is legal and, we would add, logical), others behind that driver tend to get impatient and irritable. That is on them, not the reluctant motorist they are behind. Even so, impatient and irritated drivers tend to pull idiotic stunts that reveal just how irritated and impatient they are. That isn’t the fault of the overly cautious driver, but anyone whose driving routinely angers others should definitely review their driving habits and make adjustments accordingly. A moment ago we promised arguments both for and against pulling forward. The #1 argument against the practice comes from abusing it: people who follow the one, two, three or even four cars that inevitably slither through the intersection after the green disappears. That’s not cool. Or legal. That’s a jerk move. Don’t be a jerk. One more thing: anyone who pulls into an intersection and fails to turn left, and then backs up when the light turns red (we have seen this) should have their license immediately revoked. +
School Aid Speaking about school, another real benefit of COVID is that families sometimes uncovered intellectual or academic challenges in their kids which may have been missed before. That has helped these children get the resources they needed at home and especially now that they’re back in school. Moving Health Care 30 Years Forward Another benefit I saw personally is the ability for doctors to visit with patients virtually. COVID forced changes in health care that I estimate has moved telehealth ahead by 20 to 30 years. And patients seem to love it: Only 11% of U.S. consumers used telehealth in 2019. Today, as many as 23% of patients use telehealth for certain health care visits. But it’s worthwhile to note that 40% of patients report visiting their psychologist or psychiatrist via telehealth. Rewiring Our Brains for Good Today, in many ways we’re getting back to our old routines. But the small positives we’ve experienced over these past months can still stay with us. If you look at brain changes and neurochemistry, our brains can be rewired by experience, by emotion, by practice and by exposure. We may not have the same togetherness we had during lockdown. But the positive emotions and interactions we experienced created new neurons and strengthened others permanently, so we may now have a higher propensity for family closeness than ever before. Unfortunately, negative experiences do the same thing. But the takeaway here is that can be changed too. Even if we’ve had the worst 18 months of our lives, we can move in a different direction. Research proves that how you think can change the chemicals in your brain. So, by focusing on small positives and putting in the effort to move our minds away from past terrible experiences, you can change. Last Thanksgiving, we had some tragic circumstances happen in our family. Now feels like the opportunity to cherish what it means to be together. That, to me, is the positive of this time in our lives: Giving us pause to realize what’s really important. + Jeremy Hertza, Psy.D., is a neuropsychologist and the executive director of NeuroBehavioral Associates, LLC, in Augusta, on the web at http://nbageorgia.com. Contact him at 706-823-5250 or email@example.com.
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
the blog spot — posted by Tariq Shaheed, MD, on November 13, 2021 (edited for space)
EVERY PATIENT IS SOMEONE’S LOVED ONE It felt like watching a train go by with no control over its destination and no way to stop it. We simply had to watch our loved one as he made his way towards death. The doctor said he had a traumatic brain injury with herniation. His pupils were fixed and dilated on arrival to the emergency department, which meant that he was not a candidate for any neurosurgical intervention. And that our lives would never be the same. He had been playing on an ATV with his friends, wearing no seatbelt or helmet at the time of the collision. Although he survived being transported to the hospital, the beginning of the realization that we would never talk with him, walk with him, hug him, or work with him ever again started to become clear. As an internal medicine physician, I recall having hard conversations with families when I needed to let them know that things were not going well with a patient. I have often noticed through their questions and comments that people only grasp the encouraging parts of what I had told them. Usually, they held on to the slightest bit of positive information I had given in a sea of bad news. I had never understood this phenomenon until it was my own loved one who was in critical condition. He was only 16 years old. My wife and I had expected to see him on the upcoming break from school. It’s hard for us to accept the unimaginable in an instant. Some have termed this the “existential slap,” when it hits a patient or loved one that things have changed forever and perhaps death or permanent disability is inevitable. When I am on service, I sometimes remark to families that if the patient was my family member, I would choose a particular treatment, diagnostic test, or palliative measure. However, I now realize that our objective judgment is completely lost when the person is your son, your uncle, your brother, or your nephew. As physicians, we can intellectualize these tragic situations and the psychology of this type of response, but the truth is we will all be there ourselves if we live long enough, and we will experience things differently than if we are the bearer of grave news. My role in this experience as a family member was compounded by the fact that I am the only health care provider among us. Thus I had to translate the medical jargon for everyone. Because the prognosis was poor, I felt it was my responsibility to relate that prognosis immediately, even though I was still processing all this information and my own emotions at the same time. Though I am a physician, I am only human. Even though I wanted to be objective, teardrops escaped my eyes. At that moment, I did not see myself as a medical professional; my clinical knowledge and experience were almost irrelevant. Just like the family members of my critically ill patients, I relied on the compassionate, honest, and thoughtful extended family of health care professionals treating my nephew to show us — grieving and in disbelief — that not only did they care, but that they were pursuing the best treatment for the patient. This experience reminded me that in our role as health care providers, we must help patients’ family members through the lonely tunnel of disbelief towards the peace which comes in time with acceptance of hard truths. Though it’s difficult at times when we can see the undesirable outcome, we must remain companionate, never losing sight of the fact that every patient is someone’s loved one. +
They will clutch the tiniest island of hope in a sea of bad news.
In loving memory of Durpree “Man Man” Battiest. Tariq Shaheed is an internal medicine physician.
From the Bookshelf Do you ever get on a kick where you read everything you can get your hands on by a certain author? Well, in our last issue we reviewed Dr. Offit’s very latest book, You Bet Your Life. This one goes back a couple of years, which makes it kind of amazingly prescient. Admit it: if you saw this book’s title and subtitle (see the end of this article if you can’t read the fine print on the cover at right), you might automatically assume that it was written in response to the current social climate. After all, we live in an era where, if people are offered the choice of three sources of medical information — let’s say an acclaimed actor with several Oscar nominations; a former Playboy playmate and Playmate of the Year; and an esteemed scientist with decades of experience in his or her field that is relevant to healthcare — they will listen to the first two and ignore the third. Keep in mind, the information being considered is potentially life-and-death. While many would respond, “That’s why I would listen to only the doctor’s advice,” a sizable number would counter
with, “Life and death? That’s exactly why I’m going to ignore the doctor’s advice.” Yes, we live in a divided world and suspicion and mistrust are everywhere. Then again, trust and confidence are everywhere too. As in our fictitious choice, some people will confidently trust the activist or the Facebook poster with no scientific background, others will confidently trust the physician or researcher. This isn’t all about coronavirus, either. (This book was written and published in 2019, after all.) Before the pandemic, housewives from Peoria were denying climate
change and people in their 20s who have never cracked a history book were denying that the Holocaust ever happened. It’s not that medical scientists and physicians never make mistakes. They’re as human as everyone else. In fact, the pages of medical history are strewn with the victims of its “progress.” That’s what Offit wrote about in You Bet Your Life, the heavy price we often pay in those intermediate steps between initial discovery and finally getting it right. Politicians, celebrities and activists make their share of mistakes too. What every person has to decide individually is, who am I willing to trust? Not who is perfect, but who is most likely to be right. Dr. Offit is trying to remind us of the basic principles of clear thinking and decisionmaking. In Bad Advice, he’s trying to give us good advice. + Bad Advice, Or Why Celebrities, Politicians and Activists Aren’t Your Best Source of Health Information by Paul A. Offit, MD; 272 pages, published in December 2019 by Columbia University Press.
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That is so so wrong. All I’m saying is that If I was arrogant, you have a reputation would I ask you for help for being arrogant. spelling a word?
What word are you having trouble with?
I know you do! Everyone does!
E M O T E
S E N S E
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T Y P E
2 0 2 Simply unscramble the letters, N then begin exploring I G our ads. When you Nfind the correctly spelled word I N R hidden in one U of our ads — enter at AugustaRx.com T E RWe’ll announce the winner in our next issue!
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by Daniel R. Pearson © 2021 All rights reserved.
30. Word on many Hallmark cards sold in June 32. Location 34. Olmsted intro 35. Brain ____ 37. Monetary unit of Afghanistan 38. Farewell, Judge Ito 40. Frequently (poetically) 41. Pale 43. Wears away 44. Inhibitor beginning 45. Electric discharge 46. Type of star 47. Epic story 49. Lung disease (abbrev.) 50. La Boheme melody 51. New York suffix 53. 12th letters 54. Narrow opening 55. Class 58. For Profit groups sometime start with this Solution p. 14
DIRECTIONS: Every line, vertical and horizontal, and all nine 9-square boxes must each contain the numbers 1 though 9. Solution on page 14.
QUOTATIONPUZZLE 9 H A N D6 7 S U W W2 T E I K5 O8 1 — Author unknown 3 4
I D D D N I A N L E N R R H I W K R L T U E O T L E O S D D H T N I S by Daniel R. Pearson © 2021 All rights reserved
8 5 3 4 7 1 9 6 2
DIRECTIONS: Recreate a timeless nugget of wisdom by using the letters in each vertical column to fill the boxes above them. Once any letter is used, cross it out in the lower half of the puzzle. Letters may be used only once. Black squares indicate spaces between words, and words may extend onto a second line. Solution on page 14.
Use the letters provided at bottom to create words to solve the puzzle above. All the listed letters following #1 are the first letters of the various words; the letters following #2 are the second letters of each word, and so on. Try solving words with letter clues or numbers with minimal choices listed. A sample is shown. Solution on page 14.
1 2 3 4 3
H R 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Y 2 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 B — The Dalai Lama 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1.AKBIPPIWA 2.SINTHELOO 3.SWENSD 4.DANSS 5.EIYI 6.SBVB 7.ELL 8.REE
1. ILB 2. SLO 3. VI 4. NE 5. D =
by Daniel R. Pearson © 2021 All rights reserved
ACROSS 22 23 1. Decatur street (for short) 6. Triangular sail 25 26 27 28 9. Minerals 31 32 13. African plague 14. Portend 36 37 15. Hoarfrost 39 40 16. Like some jackets 42 43 18. Cosmetics brand 19. Jewish calendar month 45 46 20. Famous twins’ last name 48 49 50 51 21. Brooklyn team 22. Information in brief 56 57 24. Concur 59 60 25. Journal named for a 62 63 medical instrument 28. Deadly 1992 hurricane by Daniel R. Pearson © 2021 All rights reserved. 31. Crease 32. Slink DOWN 33. Lou Gehrig’s abbreviation 1. Meter prefix 36. Ancient France 2. Comply 37. Longed 3. PBS science program 38. Quick!!! 4. A type of error 39. The A of SCAD 5. It can introduce drum or flap 40. External 6. Tasks 41. Poorly sorted sandstone 7. Doing nothing 42. Involuntary response 8. Past participle of be 44. Chaos 9. Citrus fruit 45. Sting 10. Major local roadway 47. It follows Monte 11. Show theatrical emotion 48. Game played in Aiken 12. First word of a Jane Austen 49. Source of cocoa title 52. Egg type? 14. Grocery chain that served 56. Ardent GA, NC and SC 57. At first 17. Like some drinks 59. Religious or social ritual 23. Fisherman’s helper 60. Pocket bread 24. Vessel built by Noah 61. Lowermost deck 25. Sorenstam’s org. 62. There are 1,700 of them in 26. Controversial fruit spray Florida 27. Impartiality 63. Type of surgery 28. A building’s added wing 64. Sample 29. Never, in poetry
THE MYSTERY 2WORD ! The Mystery Word for this issue: BLOMMSAITE
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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
THEBESTMEDICINE ha... ha...
ubba and his friend Bobby Joe were on vacation in Panama City, walking downtown, when they saw a sign in a store window reading, “Suits $5.99 each! Shirts just $1.99! Pants $2.49 apiece!” Pointing to the sign, Bubba turned to Bobby Joe and said, “Lookie there! We could buy a slew o’ these and take ‘em back home to sell in Arkansas. At these prices we’re gonna be rich!” “They might think we’re goin’ into bidness agin ‘em,” said Bobby Joe.”Maybe they won’t sell to us.” “Lemme do the talking,” said Bubba. They go into the store and Bubba says, “We’ll take 50 of them five-ninety-nine suits you got. And a hundred of yer dollar-ninety- nine shirts too. And we’ll take 50 pair a them pants while you’re at it. We got us a big family up in New York, you see.” “You sure you boys aren’t from Arkansas or someplace down here?” asked the shopkeeper. “Whatever makes you think that?” asked Bubba. “Well,” said the shopkeeper, “This is a dry cleaning shop.”
Moe: What’s with the black eye, Joe? Joe: I sent my girlfriend a “Hope You Get Better” card and she got all bent out of shape over it. Moe: I didn’t even realize she was sick. Joe: She isn’t. I just think she can get better.
Moe: Have you heard about my girlfriend? Joe: I know she hasn’t been feeling well lately. How’s she doing? Moe: Well, she’s finally in a better place. Joe: Moe, I’m so sorry. I hadn’t heard. How did she die? Moe: Die? Who said she died? She moved out of that nasty trailer park, that’s all. One evening after supper Adam went out to explore the Garden of Eden and ended up getting lost. By the time he made it back to Eve, it was well past midnight and he was exhausted. All he wanted to do was go to sleep, but Eve was furious. “Where have you been, mister?” she yelled. “Just walking around the garden,” said Adam. “With who?” shot back Eve. “With who? What do you mean with who? We’re the only two people on earth!” “Then why were you gone so long?” “I got lost,” Adam said as he dozed off. “How convenient!” said Eve sarcastically, but Adam had already fallen asleep. Not long afterward Adam woke up to Eve poking him in the side. “What in the world are you doing?” he asked. “Counting your ribs!” she replied. Moe: What do you call someone who never passes gas in public? Joe: I believe the term is private tutor. +
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Dear Advice Doctor, One of my coworkers absolutely despises our boss. She can be downright vicious about it, but face to face you would think she believes the boss walks on water. This is probably common in many offices, but the other day the boss asked me for an evaluation of this coworker. I’m not one to throw others under the bus, and she is a good worker, so I had to bite my tongue. Still, it felt dishonest. What would you have done? — Conflicted Dear Conflicted, I think most of us can identify with your situation. We’ve all been there. In fact, just the other day I was eating some popcorn and I bit my tongue. How do these things happen? The good news is that oral injuries heal more quickly than just about anywhere else in the body. That might seem counterintuitive since there is plenty of bacteria in the average mouth. There are several reasons why your tongue will quickly heal, however. Mine sure did. One reason is that the tongue is highly vascular. In other words, it has a very rich blood supply (as we’re all reminded whenever we accidentally bite our tongue). That means the delivery of healing nutrients and oxygen to the area and the ability to haul off damaged tissue is better than most other parts of the body, and that accelerates the healing process. Another factor is saliva. Yes, good old fashioned spit, which researchers have discovered has antibacterial agents and germ-fighting enzymes. That helps too. Finally, and this might be the most significant factor, oral tissue is pretty simple and basic. Consult your bookshelf for that textbook on human anatomy, or just think back to diagrams from your school books of those cross-sections of human skin. It is incredibly complex, with multiple layers of dermis and epidermis, sebaceous glands, sweat glands, hair follicles, nerve endings and much more. A cut in regular skin takes a lot more time to repair because there’s a lot more to repair. Tissues in our tongue, cheeks, gums and inner lips are very simple by comparison. They heal quickly. I hope this answers your question. Thanks for writing! + Do you have a question for The Advice Doctor about health, life, love, personal relationships, career, raising children, or any other important topic? Send it to News@AugustaRx.com. Replies will be provided only in the Examiner.
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THE MYSTERY SOLVED 2! The Mystery Word in our last issue was: METABOLISM
2 0 2 Nhair in the p. 15 ad for ...cleverly hidden in the woman’s I G READ US ON YOURIN SMARTPHONE OR TABLET N UR T E R
THE WINNER: TIMOTHY WILLIFORD! Want to find your name here next time? If it is, we’ll send you some cool swag from our goodie bag. The new Mystery Word is on page 12. Start looking!
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
AUGUSTAMEDICALEXAMiNER THE PUZZLE SOLVED P E R I
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C L E R I L A N C P L E A G A U L A R T R E S M A R P O L O A V I D R I T E K E Y S
E A R S O N F E T T P O U F L T C O P D
J I B B O D E I B L E L S E N O A A N D R S N E A K I N E D T E R W E X M A S A N A C A O R I G I N I T A O A Y T
O R A N G E
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The Celebrated TheSUDOKUsolution MYSTERY WORD CONTEST 9 8 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
...wherein we hide (with fiendish cleverness) a simple word. All you have to do is unscramble the word (found on page 12), then find it concealed within one of our ads. Click in to the contest link at www.AugustaRx.com and enter. If we pick you in our random drawing of correct entries, you’ll score our goodie package! SEVEN SIMPLE RULES: 1. Unscramble and find the designated word hidden within one of the ads in this issue. 2. Visit the Reader Contests page at www.AugustaRx.com. 3. Tell us what you found and where you found it. 4. If you’re right and you’re the one we pick at random, you win. (Winners within the past six months are ineligible.) 5. Prizes awarded to winners may vary from issue to issue. Limited sizes are available for shirt prize. 6. A photo ID may be required to claim some prizes. 7. Other entrants may win a lesser prize at the sole discretion of the publisher. 8. Deadline to enter is shown on page 12.
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Love to stare at your phone? Visit issuu.com/ medicalexaminer and stare away.
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QuotatioN QUOTATION PUZZLE SOLUTION The kindest word in all the world is the unkind word unsaid. — Author unknown
WORDS BY NUMBER Be kind whenever possible and it is always possible.
— the 14th Dalai Lama
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NOVEMBER 19, 2021
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CHIROPRACTIC Evans Chiropractic Health Center Dr. William M. Rice 108 SRP Drive, Suite A 706-860-4001 www.evanschiro.net
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DENTISTRY Jason H. Lee, DMD 116 Davis Road Augusta 30907 706-860-4048
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PRINT IS DEAD WELL, A LOT OF IT IS.
There are others that have died in addition to the eight past publications pictured. The Senior News is no more. The Augustan (or “The New Augustan”) seems hard to find, but that could just be a temporary COVID situation. And many people say The Augusta Chronicle is a mere shadow of its former self. The good news is that one area publication is alive and well and going strong, and for that we have our loyal advertisers and loyal readers to sincerely thank. If you’re wondering, the name of that publication is shown below:
NOVEMBER 19, 2021
EXASPERATING… from page 9
will lose its will-to-pay, and they will kick me out of here. I’ll miss their great food and faces with plastic smiles. Bless their little hearts. I know I already said that, but you must forgive a traumatized little old lady who has pain and soreness in multiple unmentionable places. It’s the Christian thing to do. I can’t wait to get back home where I can tell Father Time just what I think of his little misadventure with my bones. I’m gonna send Father Time packing so he can pick on some of you younger folks who think you need some new adventures. One day, you very well might need some wild stories to entertain your grandkids. Getting home was an adventure in itself. With great authority, I demanded a pit stop at the Dairy Queen for a Butterfinger Sundae. I have heard it said (by me, but don’t tell anyone) that a Butterfinger Sundae will heal most anything from a dislocated hip to post nasal drip. I felt compelled to test it out on my multitude of rearranged bone fragments. I do this as a service to mankind. I’m satisfied with the results. I hurt a little less than before, and I don’t think my weight went up too much. And if it did, I’ll lie about it to anyone rude enough to ask. They ought to mind their own business. The Good Lord must think I needed a stimulus to improve my circulation because one of his snakes had taken up residence in my kitchen cabinet while I was gone. It might have been His plan, but it was not mine. I screamed a goodly amount and a neighbor came running over with assorted implements of destruction. The snake refused to slink away in fear, so my brave neighbor divided the snake into two pieces. I felt better after that. Two half snakes are better than one whole snake any day. And NO, I don’t know the color or the species of the snake. To us women, snakes are snakes. Live snakes are bad, dead snakes are of no consequence. Men worry about what species a dead snake might be. My neighbor did not charge for subdividing the snake. If I live through all this, I think I will cook him some peanut butter cookies. Of course, I have to eat about half of them to be sure they are up to my standards. Most likely, cooking and eating with one arm in a cast will qualify as PT at home. Pretty soon, I will be back somewhere near normal. Then maybe I can kill my own snakes in the kitchen without alarming the neighborhood. Maybe I’ll go to a Texas Mule Roundup. Or a blues club to drift away to a slide guitar moaning soul-moving notes. I don’t think Medicare has a pay code for blues club therapy, so I will have to come out of pocket for that. When Father Time drops an unplanned adventure into your life, just remember what I do: Bob Dylan singing, “Don’t think twice, it’s alright.” +
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