One I seek to maximize wellness is by shunning well-intended commentary by non-medical experts on how to get and stay well. I recently giggled over a novelty mug that spoke to my heart, even though it is meant to be a gag gift for a physician. The only gag I care to share with my doctor is engendered by a tongue depressor. The mug proclaimed, presumably on the physician’s behalf, “Thank you for not confusing your Google search with my medical degree.” It made me want to visit one of those do-it-yourself ceramic places where I can create my own mug that reads, “Thank you for not confusing our relationship as the basis for your researching my illness, estimating my prognosis, giving me your results, and offering me your advice.” My message requires the surface of a pitcher or beer stein and not a coffee-sized mug.
I come from a small town where I was encouraged to accept or, at minimum, put up with neighbors, synagogue associates, and friends who only “mean well” when they ask questions that are painfully private or when they vociferously advocate remedies that they or their kin have tried. “Give up all dairy!.” Drop all meat! Eat only plant-based foods! That sounds like a diet that would appeal to a herd of cattle, but the fake-o doctors insist that they know more than you about…..you. Whenever a distant family member claims she just sent me an article about a health issue of mine, I lovingly dissuade her by saying, “I’ll delete it.”
Although the put-down, “Dr. Google,” was recently described for me by a frustrated nurse who suffers through medical parlance with the non-professionals who carry smartphones, I’ll not engage in Internet-bashing anymore than I would disparage brick and mortar libraries-that house actual books. Libraries have stood as repositories of the knowledge that educated us all for generations and turned the worst of us into unlicensed know-it-alls-in subject areas and disciplines ranging from religion to psychology. Because the JLife topic for this month is Health and Wellness, I would be remiss if I didn’t decry the people who are not doctors, who don’t even play doctors on TV, but who comport themselves as though they have the credentials to practice medicine on the rest of us. That job has traditionally been reserved for our Moms.
ELLEN FISCHER is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.