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Doctor Curmudgeon®: The Power of Why!


By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP

I love words.

I love to talk, to babble on, whether there is an audience or not!

Indeed, it is a good choice that I became a physician: because my patients like to talk and I like to listen and talk.

Letters are so beautiful in the way that they form words. To my eye, Crossword puzzles are artistic creations. When finally filled with words and letters, they are joys for me to behold; a crossword puzzle is a delight with its design of cunning little boxes, so pristine, just waiting for me to fill them in.

I am impartial. I like big words with long trains of syllables and yet I gaze with delight at the tiny little words that allow me to utter them so snappily.

Of course, I have favorites.

In those far away days of medical school, in the wonder of our first year, my friend and I would choose a word of the day. Instead of the prosaic “hello,” or “hi,” we would use our chosen word or phrase as a greeting to each other as we passed in the halls.

One of our favorites was Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.

Such a fond remembrance of passing my classmate in the hall. Her beautiful red hair would bob in greeting as she said, “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” And my head would nod in return as I replied, “Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,”

Other students and professors would shake their own heads in dismay, but we felt quite pleased with ourselves. Two lone logophiles, who felt the need to do something somewhat anti establishment, in our little regimented world of classes, study, lab and living in fear that we would never receive our degrees

And there is a single, sweet, yet clipped little word that I have found to be of great help.


It is so handy to express my feelings

I ask patients what vitamins, minerals or other stuff they are taking.

And I get an answer: “Oh, I take a mega vitamin every single day.”
“Why?” I respond.

Often there is quizzical look and a pause before the answer which is usually, “It says so on the Internet,” or “My friend takes one.”

“Oh,” I might say, “Your friend has an MD or DO or Ph.D. in biochemistry, or is a certified nutritionist…?”


And again I can utter:

“So, you are taking a bottle of something with a lot of stuff in it, because of information on the Internet?

“and the internet is always correct?” I continue.

I again query:


Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com “talk real world medicine”

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