July 12, 2012

Publisher's Notebook: Personal health care by the book

By Willie Sawyers

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Judging from my own experience, I’m encouraging people to take control of their own health care, but make sure they do it “by the book.” I mean that literally.

Here’s my story. One morning I noticed a large bump on my wrist. I didn’t remember injuring myself, so I was puzzled how it got there.

That’s a problem with getting older. Stuff just starts popping up on our bodies; bumps, knots, bruises, sun spots, skin tags, wrinkles, flaps and unwanted hairs. They are weeds in our rose garden, basically, and tough to remove. By the time we reach old age, our bodies are covered with weeds.

As the days passed, the knot on my wrist got bigger and created a dull ache up my arm and into my shoulder, making it tough to sleep at night. My wife swore my swollen wrist was from too much golf. If that was the case, both wrists would be swollen, I argued.

If I complain at all about an ache or a pain, she always says it’s from golfing too much, especially in the summer. It wouldn’t matter if it was something like excessive dandruff. Yep, too much golf.

Myself, I thought the knot on my wrist was caused by tendonitis from typing and using a computer mouse. It was my right hand, which I use exclusively to manipulate the little ball on the mouse many hours a day. Made sense to me.

Finally, with the knot getting bigger and the pain becoming more intense, I took my weed-infested wrist to the doctor. He took one look at it and confirmed it was a ganglion cyst, a benign bump that pops up on the hands and feet. The pain was caused by the cyst pressing against a nerve in my wrist. It would have to be surgically removed.

He asked me which surgeon I preferred, which caused me to pause a moment. For someone who’s never been cut open, how can I name a preferred surgeon? The doctor filled out a referral and said the pain wouldn’t end until the cyst was cut of my wrist.

I went home wondering if I could postpone the surgery until cold weather. I didn’t want anything interfering with my golf schedule. I needed a second opinion from Dr. Google and his associate, Dr. Wikipedia.

The good doctors are always available, know everything and don’t need appointments. They told me everything I needed to know about my ganglion cyst. It could be left alone, unless it was causing pain, then surgery was the best option.

But way down the list of remedies was a sentence that said the cyst could possibly be removed by whacking it with a book. It wasn’t some medieval witch doctor medicine, but an actual remedy. People had successfully removed them by hitting them with a heavy book, such as a Bible. That’s why it  was referred to as a “Bible cyst” by Dr. Google.

With my insurance deductible and co pay, I figured the wrist surgery would cost me at least $1,200 and put me on the golfing sidelines a week or longer. That was enough motivation to reach for my Bible.

But only I couldn’t find my Bible, since I use my iPad and smartphone for scripture reading. Makes it easier to look up passages. I found a heavy book in my wife’s stash and made ready for the operation.

I laid my wrist across my knee and bent it at a severe angle to expose the cyst to the greatest force. I gave it a good whack with the flat side of the book. There was no immediate response, so I whacked it again with the spine of the book.

That hurt like crazy and sent shooting pains up my arm. My wife thought I was crazy as well. My whole arm was dangling by my side. I thought I’d made the problem worse.

The next day, the cyst actually was larger and more painful. But a few days later, it began to shrink and finally disappeared completely. My wrist is smooth again and pain free.

I’m so happy that the barbaric remedy actually worked and I saved $1,200. It has me wondering if other health problems can be cured by whacking them with a book.

Migraine headaches? Whack. Not sure that will help the problem. Explosive diarrhea? A whack to the abdomen might cause an even faster run to the toilet. Toothache? Yea, a good whack to the mouth could work, if the offending tooth comes flying out.

Other growths and weeds that can be removed by book whacking include boils, pimples and other abscesses. Just make sure no one is in the vicinity during the whacking.

I believe Dr. Google and Dr. Wikipedia will approve.