Doctors can be such killjoys.
I remember visiting a mate of mine from university who’d just suffered a heart attack. There were other friends around, one of whom happened to be a doctor.
The thing about any illness and people over 60 is that the conversation almost invariably graduates to antioxidants.
Say the topic is cancer or Bell’s Palsy – I’m just showing of here – and, bingo, antioxidant supplements will be mentioned. It’s like bees and honey, it’s a kind of hand in hand analogy.
In that particular instance, one chap said that the way to avoid all things nasty was a supplement called CoQ10 and the others nodded knowingly as the words “powerful antioxidant” reverberated around the room.
“Nonsense,” exclaimed the doctor who proceeded to explain that all these supplements were just advertising gimmicks and mere placebos designed to enrich big pharma, with emphasis on Pharma. But he was a UK-trained paediatrician and a board-certified conspiracy theorist to boot, so we just changed the subject.
But the face of the guy advocating the supplement fell miserably: he’d been taking it for years.
Pity the poor hypochondriac. He goes to the doctor who tells him he has hypochondria. Patient: “Not that as well.”
Actually, if you consider all the nasties just waiting to get under your skin, hypochondria might be the way to go. Just think of what’s out there: bacteria, viruses, fungi, mites, pollution, chemicals, bad water, bad food, bad genes. Sheer bad luck! Then there are the syndromes, the diseases, the maladies, ailments, afflictions, complaints, sicknesses and the just plain horrors lurking around the corner, and it’s enough to drive you screaming into your local Vitacare.
In the face of such overwhelming statistical possibilities, the most logical position to take on life would be the hypochondriac’s. It seems the most rational and is eminently commonsensical besides.
It’s enough to make you appreciate the wonder of humankind’s capacity for improvement, the extent to which we’ve extended our lifespans from our Neanderthal brethren. From that perspective, being healthy and over 60 is a blessing and Dr Mahathir belongs in a museum.
Even so, the medical scepticism over supplements seems to have taken a revisionist turn since the onset of the CoVid-19 pandemic.
When it first began, all the hypochondriac-leaning literature advised us to beef up our immune system so we stocked up on things we normally would never dream of buying like zinc and Vitamin D.
I can almost hear the doctor friend of mine saying all you need for Vitamin D is a “walk in the sun.”
But now even Dr Sanjay Gupta of CNN fame advises the same.
For the true-blue Hypo though, I suppose the way to go is the way of a very rich Malaysian banker who continues to live in a private hospital 24/7.
He is there secure in the knowledge that there are capped and gowned specialists waiting alertly for any twinge, throb, pain, soreness, pang or spasm that he might experience before they spring into action armed with the best knowledge money can buy.
And if all else fails, your epitaph can always read “I told you I was sick” and you still make a point.