The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased
as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor
and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris,
author of My
Wife and Times. —Ed].
Mind over matters of the heart
By Daniel Will-Harris
A few weeks ago I thought I might be sick. I didn't really feel bad, I just felt things I hadn't felt before and thought they could be signs of something serious.
I figured it was better to find out and fix it than ignore it and flat line.
After taking an expensive test, a radiologist with no fashion sense slunk into the room. I hoped she had a sense of humor that would explain her skirt, but my hopes were soon dashed.
I knew I was in trouble even with my glasses off. I was reading an article about Doris Day and had just finished reading my wife a quote where Doris said she'd had, "A perfectly rotten life" (ahh, I know, it's so sad because everybody loves Doris), and I looked up and saw the doctor.
I could tell, just from the way the doctor was standing and moving that she didn't have good news. Of course, given her short skirt she might just also stand and move this way even when she's deliriously happy, in which case she needs therapy. Even so, I knew what was coming.
She looked at me in that sad kind way that says, "I'm going to explain this to you but I don't know if you have the time to hear it all." Then she managed to spew out lots of things I didn't understand, only speaking English when I explicitly stopped her and said, "I don't understand what you're talking about."
Then she looked as if I smelled bad when I casually announced I was going to post my X-rays on my web site. Hey, they're pictures of me. I paid for them, and because x-rays don't show layers of fat, I look remarkably trim.
As cheerful as I tried to be, her gloomy attitude made me feel like I was not only at death's door, but that it was open and a bony hand was sticking out, waving me in.
I managed to overcome this for a few minutes by going to a deli and having some tasty corned beef hash. I figured if I was going to go, at least I should go on a full stomach.
It was a few days until my follow up appointment with a different doctor. In the mean time, I felt terrible—exhausted, sleepy, shuffling along from especially good meal to meal (again, each might have been my last) and doing little else.
I saw the next doctor and she claimed the first doctor's tests were not as reliable as advertised. I perked up a bit. She scheduled yet another test, one that would prove, conclusively, if I could live through the test. Or not.
Despite feeling a bit better, I still felt it necessary to eat really good meals, along with more chocolate (and my wife couldn't say no, since she'd found a book in a library that specifically said dark chocolate is very good for you—just as I have always insisted!).
I'd been told I was sick so I simply accepted it. I was acting sick, which made me feel sick. I accepted that I'd need treatment and in the mean time would shuffle along and eat until I was taken care of.
Then came the next set of tests—blood and physical. The blood tests were administered in a deep freeze by a gentle giant with hands the size of holiday hams. The physical test took place in a darkened room (I suspect to spare the technicians the sight of my half-naked body, thankfully the top half) and involved the odd if not downright kinky combination of shaving, jogging and sweating.
Then the jog became a run. I don't run. I see no need for it. This is why God invented the internal combustion engine (and before that, horses). The only way I could see myself running is if I was being chased by a bobcat, and even then I'd probably just fall down, play dead, and pass a lot of gas in hopes that it would make me smell less delicious than I surely am.
When the test was over and the lights came back on, the technicians looked bored (great!) and the doctor only looked slightly annoyed, as if I was wasting his time (fantastic!). When I asked him if I was going to drop dead any time soon, he said (in a tone of voice that implied "I have real sick people to attend to,") "If you want to put it that way, no." I didn't need any "procedures." The results of my blood tests had never been better. I was fine.
And suddenly, I was. I still felt it prudent to celebrate with a good meal involving a lot of cheese and chocolate, just in case, but my energy returned. I felt like dancing. A doctor had told me I was fine, so I was fine.
And that, my friends, is the power of mind over matter—something the medical community derisively calls, "the placebo effect." Is it all in your head? If you want to put it that way, yes. How else can you explain double-blind medical tests where people who are taking placebos are told they're taking a wonder drug, and sometimes they improve as much as people taking the real drug? It's the power of the mind.
Either that, or they should be testing what's in those placebos. My guess is that if they're actually M&M's and are filled with chocolate that's the wonder drug right there (though always take dark chocolate and let it dissolve in your mouth responsibly). Maybe I was cured by chocolate.
Or maybe, by the power of hope and prayer (or "good vibes" if you prefer).
I'm not saying that the power of positive thinking (and chocolate) can cure all ills, but it can cure some of them. And you never know, like me, you might be one of the "some."