From Voodoo to Viagra: the Magic of Medicine: 37 Uplifting Essays from a Doctor's Bag of Tricks

From Voodoo to Viagra: the Magic of Medicine: 37 Uplifting Essays from a Doctor's Bag of Tricks

by Oscar London, Oscar London
     
 

The doctor who dispensed the invaluable advice KILL AS FEW PATIENTS AS POSSIBLE is at it again with a collection of waggish musings on everything from Stanley Kubrick'¬?s Eyes Wide Shut to voodoo, ballerinas, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a doctor who uses a scalpel to excise fat from the "B" in his BLT. Dr. Oscar London'¬?s FROM VOODOO TOSee more details below

Overview

The doctor who dispensed the invaluable advice KILL AS FEW PATIENTS AS POSSIBLE is at it again with a collection of waggish musings on everything from Stanley Kubrick'¬?s Eyes Wide Shut to voodoo, ballerinas, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and a doctor who uses a scalpel to excise fat from the "B" in his BLT. Dr. Oscar London'¬?s FROM VOODOO TO VIAGRA pokes fun at the serious and sometimes outrageous world of medicine, and the result is storytelling at its finest. No one in the medical community is safe from Dr. London'¬?s fine-tuned wit. Whether you'¬?re a 27-year veteran of County General, a newly graduated resident, or just a fan of great nonfiction-these 37 keenly wrought essays are, as you guessed it, just what the doctor ordered.‚Ä¢ Dr. London'¬?s books have sold over 100,000 copies.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580082877
Publisher:
Ten Speed Press
Publication date:
01/28/2001
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 8.78(h) x 0.44(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

OSCAR LONDON, MD, is the pseudonym of an internist who practiced in Berkeley, California, for 30 years His humorous essays appeared regularly in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Read an Excerpt


Chapter One


Mouth Wide Shut


    Oh, if only Stanley Kubrick had lived to direct my life in medicine!

    His last film, Eyes Wide Shut, tells the story of Dr. William Harford (Tom Cruise), a young, handsome Manhattan internist who works in what appears to be a five-thousand-dollar long white coat by Brioni. His practice consists of seeing four patients a day in a spacious office with eight assistants, knee-deep rugs, and black marble countertops.

    He is married to Alice (Nicole Kidman), an incandescent beauty and art curator, who spends more than half her life naked. They live with Helena, their fashionably only child, age seven, in an unspeakably swank Upper East Side townhouse.

    After a less than exhausting day in the office, Dr. Harford and his wife attend a party thrown by Victor Ziegler (Sidney Pollack), one of his billionaire patients, in a mansion that makes Versailles look like a Motel 6.

    By subtle contrast, I'm a Berkeley internist with a practice that requires me to see twenty-five HMO patients a day in a small, fifty-year-old office that was recently given six months to live by a specialist in dry rot. My yearly income is considerably less than Dr. Harford's monthly office rent.

    Of course it's not fair to compare my marriage to that portrayed by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, since my wife and I are more of the Vivien Leigh-Clark Gable type couple. As befitting our lower socioeconomic class, we have twice as many children as the Harfords.

    Our son and daughter,now grown, had to suffer toys purchased from K-Mart and upscale garage sales as opposed to Helena Harford who has a charge account and personal shopper at FAO Schwarz. As a result of seeing this movie, our kids never call us.

    Last year, while Kubrick was directing the billionaire's caviar and champagne party, my wife and I attended a potluck fund-raiser for the Berkeley Needle Exchange Program. It was held in the Mimi Epstein-Gomez Room of the local Center for Homeless Parents of Gays and Lesbians. (A fund-raiser to renovate the Mimi Epstein-Gomez Room was taking place in the basement.) As opposed to the live dance orchestra the size of the New York Philharmonic in the movie, we were afflicted with an over-amped CD of the Grateful Dead.

    During his night at the lavish party, Dr. Harford is called upstairs to the host's ornate bedroom where he's asked to minister to a gorgeous, naked prostitute who had suddenly become comatose after making love to Victor Ziegler (Sidney Pollack).

    To this medical viewer, the differential diagnosis was heroin overdose versus near-terminal boredom from having spent the better part of an evening submitting to Sidney Pollack.

    With consummate skill, Dr. Harford jiggles the head of the call girl a bit, says a few encouraging words and, lo!, she revives. Not wearing any clothes, the woman is unable to produce her Blue Cross card, but Pollack indicates to Cruise that he'll take care of it, and then some.

    At the potluck—as opposed to the Pollack—affair, I must have seen twenty people just as stoned as the prostitute in the movie. But they remained fully clothed, semiupright, and somewhat less than gorgeous. After we were introduced, one of them asked me if I carried any morphine in my doctor's bag.

    The next evening Dr. Harford, to my astonishment, responds to another house call. When he arrives, the patient, billionaire number two, is comfortably dead and neatly tucked into his king-sized bed. There's not much for Dr. Harford to do but check the patient's eyeballs and console the deceased's beautiful blonde daughter. He has not said three words before the daughter throws herself at him, kisses him with maximum passion, and professes her love for him.

    Many years ago I made a house call. I don't remember exactly when or precisely why. But I do recall that the elderly patient's son, a haggard, unshaven man in his fifties, threw a copy of the Columbia Desk Encyclopedia at me (and missed) when I refused to hospitalize his father.

    Spurning the grieving daughter's advances, Dr. Harford phones his partially undressed wife. He informs her that he'll be "detained" at the house call (something about waiting for out-of-town relatives to arrive).

    After extricating himself from the love-smitten heiress, Dr. Harford impulsively follows a comely prostitute (number two) into her apartment where, after an agony of indecision, he pays her the going rate of $150 without laying a hand on her.

    I'm reminded of one day in my office, during the era of fee-for-service medicine, when a beautiful, young female patient saw me at length for an initial visit. She finally decided that I wasn't her kind of physician and left my office, refusing to pay my $150 fee. Stanley Kubrick would never have let her get away with that.

    Meanwhile, back on the set: Still seething over a remark his wife had made about her sexual fantasy involving a naval officer, Dr. Harford rents a costume at midnight and takes a cab to yet another (and grander) mansion. Uttering the stolen password, "Fidelio," he proceeds to crash an orgy.

    Wearing a mask and cape, he walks and gawks through the mansion, while all about him are being committed random acts of fornication and senseless acts of cinematography. The masked participants are made up of old farts and young tarts.

    Somehow, he doesn't fit in.

    In a strange way this scene reminds me of the first time I walked into an operating room during my internship. Wearing a mask and gown, I was ordered by the elderly surgeon to stand next to his shapely scrub nurse. Kubricks lens would have zoomed in on the fear and helplessness in my eyes.

    Dazzled by the bright overhead lights and numbed by the frigid temperature of the OR, I stood mute while all about me were being committed gory acts of evisceration and bloody acts of hemostasis. Somehow, I didn't fit in.

    So I became an internist.

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