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Everyone’s a doctor now

Jeffrey Denny

So, I torqued my lower back playing tennis, leaving me stiff, sore, bent and hobbling, like the 90-something man I hope to be someday.

The injury surprised me, since I’ve been playing 4–5 times a week for many decades and nothing other than knee surgery, work, bad flu or travel has kept me off the court for more than a week.

As my back got better, the pain traveled down into my left hamstring. Naturally, I’m treating my apparent sciatica by sitting on a tennis ball as spine-health.com and a sense of irony recommend.

Almost worse than the pain are people telling me what to do about the pain.

These wonderful helpful people — friends and strangers — are not doctors. They saved $250,000 and several years not taking the MCATs, earning a medical degree, suffering residency, getting licensed and certified, setting up or joining a practice, billing recalcitrant patients and insurers and threatening deadbeats, and paying for malpractice insurance.

Nor does my untrained personal health-caring network deal every day with crabby and hypochondriac patients with subsidized coverage who pay pennies on the dollar yet wonder why we can’t have free unlimited Canadian Bernie/Warren healthcare. They also second-guess their doctors’ medical diagnoses and treatment because they have internet access and know how to use it. (e.g., WebMD.)

Don’t get me wrong: I deeply appreciate everyone’s kind, caring advice about my lower back and hamstring. I’m just confused about what to do with their priceless advice because everybody’s got a wise informed opinion and nobody agrees, like when it comes to Trump.

Here’s the mixed medical advice I’ve heard:

· You need to see a chiropractor. Let me text you mine. He showed me that my back pain was caused because my body was out of alignment, my right hip was turned in, one leg is shorter than the other, and my feet don’t hit the ground properly. So I needed four realignment appointments a week and $1,200 in shoe orthotics. I’m still in agony but he says it proves his treatment is working.

· Don’t go to a chiropractor! They’re all a bunch of quacks. My cousin went to one for neck pain and now he’s in a wheelchair albeit for different reasons.

· You need to see an orthopedist and get an MRI. You probably slipped a disk and need back surgery. You should see my orthopedist — he works on the Washington Redskins (1–8).

· Don’t go to an orthopedist! He’ll do back surgery to make money and then you’re really screwed. My uncle had it done and now he has to sleep in his recliner in front of the TV, which he prefers anyway.

· Avoid Western medicine! It’s all about corporate greed. You need homeopathic remedies. I’d start with aesculus, arnica montana, bryonia, calcarea carbonica or calcarea phosphorica. If those don’t work, try natrum muriaticum, nux vomica and rhus toxicodendron.

· Avoid homeopathic medicine! The FDA says it can be worse than useless, but dangerous. It’s an unholy alliance of anti-capitalist hippies and capitalist snake-oil salesmen. My aunt gave my uncle nux vomica for erectile dysfunction and now he’s dead. Possibly for different reasons.

· You just need a physical therapist. I’ll text you mine. For only $100/hour, he taught me how to fix my tennis elbow by pressing a tennis ball against a wall. He also sold me resistance bands for exercise, fitness and strength training, which essentially are big rubber bands that cost $13 and smell like Elizabeth, New Jersey.

· Physical therapists are useless. It’s a scam. What you need is a physical trainer. I’ll text you mine. She’ll help you build up the muscle systems you need to play better, faster tennis and avoid injury while protecting your bones, tendons and cartilage. You might need to invest in a hot new wardrobe because of your resulting manly chest, shoulders and triceps, biceps, pecs, glutes, calves and ego. The chicks love muscly dudes even if muscly dudes fear muscly chicks because of stupidity.

· You probably have Ankylosing Spondylitis, which is a form of psoriatic arthritis. I saw it on the TV every 10 minutes. So it’s serious. You need COSENTYX® (secukinumab). But don’t take COSENTYX® (secukinumab) if you’re allergic to COSENTYX® (secukinumab).

· Ah, it’s normal. Just take some Advil, stretch, sit on a tennis ball, and stay off the tennis court for a few days.

This is what an anesthesiologist playing tennis on the next court advised as he saw me wince and grab my hamstring after I chased and missed a cross-court shot to my forehand. He specializes in nerve pain.

After hearing my hamstring pain has only been for a week or two, he waved me off and snorted, “Feh. You’ll be fine.”

But what the heck does he know? He’s a doctor!

Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.

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