As I wrote about here, I am refraining from listening to music during the year of mourning my father’s death. When my sons are in the car, I let them listen to music in the back speakers and I consciously do not sing along or permit myself to “rock out.”
What about when I’m alone in the car? Sometimes I use my Bluetooth and make phone calls. Once in a while, I drive in silence. Mostly, I have taken to listening to talk radio on satellite radio. In particular, I listen to Doctor Radio (“real doctors helping real people,” their tagline says).
Doctor Radio is a station run out of New York (and powered by NYU Langone Medical Center) where every hour features a different kind of doctor. There is a dentistry hour, a dermatology hour, a plastic and reconstructive surgery hour, a gastroenterology hour, a cardiology hour and even a psychiatry and sex therapy hour. One of my favorite hours features doctors and nurses answering all of your insane insurance questions, even looking up your insurance plan online while they walk you through it. Genius!
Besides how much I learn from listening to all of these different shows, what’s most comforting is hearing people who have things wrong with them, both big and small.
Doctor Radio reminds me that the body and the brain are tremendously complicated things – they don’t always function right, and this impacts lives all over the world. It reminds me that no one is perfect or free of medical issues. And especially not me.
For instance, here are some of my medical issues:
- I have an overactive thyroid.
- My knees have started buckling as I get older when I try to exercise.
- I all of a sudden got a little rash on my foot. Turns out, it’s eczema!
- I have seasonal allergies and am allergic to dust, pollen and bees.
- I have had three hernias.
- I have had suspicious moles removed – all benign – but that’s something I have to watch for.
- Certain foods make my tummy insane: bread and too much garlic are the main offenders.
- Sun spots are appearing on my face and now my hands and arms, which is freaking me out.
- My hair is not at all as thick as it used to be and hasn’t really grown back in certain areas where I lost it after both of my kids were born.
- I was born without two of my adult teeth and I had to get implants when they fell out. But apparently the implants don’t last forever; they have started to look different than they did when I had them done.
- The second toe on my right foot is trying really hard to be taller than my big toe…if this continues, what happens next with that?
- Let’s just say “lady parts.” Trust me: there is a slew of issues we women have to deal with as we get older which I don’t care to detail here.
Now, I know that there are people with far worse medical issues than those that I just listed. But what I want to say is that for the most part, unless someone has (God forbid) something major or unless you are very close to them (child, spouse, best friend), you often don’t hear about these smaller oddities of the body. And sometimes I feel like I am the only one with issues because in my industry and in the city I live in everyone looks so darn great most of the time, like even when they are going to the supermarket.
As Louis C.K. once said, once you reach a certain age, doctors are kind of like, “Yeah, that’s because you’re old. Sucks to be you.” (Check out his bit on “Being 40.”) It truly feels like that sometimes! I heard someone call in to Doctor Radio’s dentistry hour and say they were born with six adult teeth missing and the dentist responded, “Yeah, better your teeth are missing than some other part of your body!”
That frankness is needed in the medical world, and it really is helpful to hear doctors take the time out of their lives seeing patients to help people who may not be able to afford doctors’ opinions or consultations. And in the process, these doctors on Doctor Radio make the world smaller and more intimate in the best way.
Whenever I listen to Doctor Radio, I find new ways to appreciate my body, to know I’m not the only one with issues and to understand that some problems we can fix, and some we just need to live with.