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Published: Monday, 1/14/2013

Hold the Mayo, here’s Old Doc Walton’s Health Tips to Live By

BY TOM WALTON
BLADE COLUMNIST
A variety of health-care institutions send wellness newsletters; some of the tips are trite. A variety of health-care institutions send wellness newsletters; some of the tips are trite.
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Evidently every medical school in America thinks I’m sick. Subscribe to one wellness newsletter and before you know it, your name is on a mailing list that zips about the health-care universe at warp speed.

It all started three years ago when the Mayo Clinic, somehow aware that I had reached a certain age, convinced me to subscribe to its monthly Mayo Clinic Health Letter. I was advised that not only would it explain any ailments I might already have as an emerging old person, but also it would alert me to the warning signs of new ones that hadn’t yet invited themselves into my life.

What could it hurt? I figured a little preventive care is a good thing at any age.

For two years the Mayo newsletters arrived faithfully. They were exactly as advertised. I read every one and filed them away for future reference. I was up to speed on everything from sebaceous cysts to restless leg syndrome to post-nasal drip.

But soon the Cleveland Clinic wanted a piece of the action. It too had a newsletter, and I thought well, hey, the Cleveland Clinic is just up the road. So I decided to hold the Mayo and go with the Cleveland. Just like that, the word was out: Walton is entering the autumn of his years and he’s vulnerable.

Next came the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Would I like to subscribe to its Wellness Letter?

I opted to stick with the Cleveland Clinic, but UC-Berkeley included a sample issue containing an essay that answered the question: Why do beans cause gas? This is cutting-edge stuff. You never know when someone will ask. So I put it in the binder with the Mayo and the Cleveland newsletters.

Then came the Mount Sinai School of Medicine with its Healthy Aging newsletter. Again I said no, but I kept the sample issue. I was intrigued by an article advising me that if I’m having trouble seeing, I should get glasses. You can’t get that kind of insight everywhere, folks.

Mount Sinai also informed me that older adults can benefit from resistance training. I concur. Whenever training is involved, I resist.

One other Mount Sinai tip: If I’m having trouble sleeping, I should avoid taking a diuretic before bedtime. Way ahead of you there, Doc.

After Mount Sinai I heard from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and its Health and Nutrition Letter. The sample issue got my attention with an article reaffirming the heart benefits of modest alcohol consumption.

Into the binder it went, and off to the wine shop went I. My heart thanked me for it.

About this time I’m wondering: Where’s Johns Hopkins? Don’t the experts there care?

Oh, but they do. They were next, with a newsletter called Health After 50. I declined, but again, the sample issue was informative. If it’s hot, drink lots of fluids. Good advice at any age, I would think.

But wait. There’s more.

Duke University wanted a shot. I kept the sample issue of Duke Medicine Health News, even though it said watching television for more than two hours a day doubles the risk of a heart attack.

In my defense, most of my TV hours recently were spent watching the Cleveland Browns, the finest cure for insomnia in the Wide, Wide World of Sports. The Browns generated so little excitement that my heart didn’t feel threatened — especially when that glass of Merlot recommended by the fine people at Tufts is working its magic.

Then UCLA’s Division of Geriatrics made a pitch for its Healthy Years newsletter, which described how our sense of smell diminishes as we age. Of course, that may not be a bad thing.

Harvard Medical School weighed in with its Men’s Health Watch newsletter, promising to rock my sex life. Sorry Harvard, you’re too late. If you want to rock something, try my chair.

That’s it, so far, although neither UC-Berkeley nor Tufts can take no for an answer. They keep sending sample issues. Mount Sinai too.

I’ve decided to let the Cleveland Clinic newsletter expire and just continue to collect sample issues from everybody else. I’m neither a doctor nor did I stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I’m now one of the best informed nonphysicians in town. Go ahead, ask me anything.

No wait. I think I’ll start my own wellness newsletter. I’ll call it Old Doc Walton’s Home Remedies, Wellness Tips, and Smart-aleck Comments. A little irreverent humor helps in these situations.

You can be one of my charter subscribers. This is going to be big, and you can get in on the ground floor. Remember: Feed a cold. Starve a fever. Don’t squeeze a pimple. And stay off ladders. Consider this your sample issue.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday.

Contact him at: twalton@theblade.com



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