All too often, macho males wander through life failing to take care of themselves. Seemingly, the theory is that if it was good enough for pappy or grandpappy, well, then it’s good enough for me. While this may sound rather blustery and an exhibition of male strength, it is a facade that covers up an overwhelming fear and the appearance of weakness.

Come on, guys. You know who you are. I have wheeled more than a few of you from the hospital after surgery that perhaps could have been avoided. You guys are those with a mouth full of cracked and broken teeth. You are the ones who sometimes rely on the nostrums and alcohol of patent medicines to numb real pain. I know I’m preaching to the choir. My peer group isn’t about to change their ways. Maybe the next generation? But sooner or later, some young geezer will arrive at the reluctant conclusion that prevention is better and lasts longer than emergency repairs.

Dentists with little publicity or fanfare have gone about their practices for years with prime concerns for patient care. Unfortunately, the source of toothaches lies with patients and your dentist has to address the aftermath. Some of us remember dental chairs and practices of the 30s, 40s, and even the 50s. Somewhere along the way, equipment got better, faster, and quieter. Narcotics used to control and reduce pain became part of the treatment. Indeed, it seems medicine is so effective that a prescription can be made (almost) for a specific antibiotic to address pain in the lower left quadrant.

You may not have noticed, but actual time spent in the dentist’s chair is decreasing. I believe most readers would rather be in and out in a relative hurry than sit and suffer while medicine and drills are brought up to speed.

Same way for the medical profession. Pain management and patient relief are becoming the norm. I agree no patient should be allowed to suffer endlessly without easing the pain. From my viewpoint, I wonder how physicians can determine if a patient is in real pain or just looking for an instant fix that will allow the personal schedule to remain as is, not bothered by medical inconvenience. (My physician knows my medical history and reacts accordingly.)

There is now a third player, actually a whole team, in this equation. I refer to pharmaceutical companies. There is a tendency for drug companies to serve as self-appointed ombudsmen to deine/describe symptoms, recommend solutions, and strongly urge you to consult your physician. In most cases, drug in question are controlled by law and could only be dispensed with a doctor’s prescription. For one, I believe my doctor can makeup his mind without me reminding him of new products.

It is a sick picture but I am reminded of those narcotics addicts who show up at clinics early or on time for their shot of methadone. I am reminded of those who are hungry but never work and always show at the shelters for meal time. The drug companies have been most effective in creating products that relieve human suffering. In this process, they have been more effective at creating an eager market thirsting for a daily or weekly fix of something.

In all fairness the pharmaceuticals must be commended for their efforts to relieve human suffering. I wholeheartedly agree with their sometimes massive profits being used to fund research. I certainly believe that stockholders should receive a share of profits in their dividends. Somewhere along the line, my support of the pharmaceutical industry gets shaky when I m attacked by aggressive advertising programs. Full page ads in popular magazines manage to create and leave a dark brown taste in my mouth. As I flip through magazines, my eyes glazing over ads, I am led to wonder if I am really sick and don’t know it. I guess I better tear out the page and ask my physician.

Although I can do this in good faith and yearning for some relief, I am forced to evaluate, consider, and weigh possible side-effects. Often, it seems potential unpleasantries could and would be worse than the cure. I am reminded of the old joke that went around concerning stomach ulcers. The male patient had been diagnosed with stomach ulcers. The physician was carefully prescribing the blandest of tasteless diets. The patient looked at it and asked, ” Is this going to make me live any longer?” The doctor shook his head sadly and replied, “No, you will not live any longer. However, it will seem like you are living forever. After the second week, it will be worse.”

Somewhere, there is a middle ground. No one should ignore persistent and recurring problems. Nor should they have to include physicians on their speed-dial list.

You have to work for good health. There is no free ride.