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OUTDOORS COLUMN: Medical procedures have come a long way

Bob Kornegay

Bob Kornegay

I’m sitting in my urologist’s waiting area, wishing someone would unplug that trickling fountain on the wall. Following three glasses of water and a self-imposed “holding” pattern, a tinkling (no pun intended) wall-mount water garden is unnecessary motivation.

I desperately divert my attention, eavesdropping on the conversation of two elderly gentlemen seated nearby.

“Doctorin’ sure has come a long ways,” says one.

“Sure ‘nuff has,” the other replies. “You remember when …?”

Neither is addressing me, but as a matter of fact I do. I “remember when” quite well.

My most memorable yesteryear medical procedure was administered 50-plus years ago by a local curmudgeon physician who treated me for a particularly virulent poison ivy outbreak.

As a child, as now, I was an avid outdoorsman. I was also a poison ivy magnet. The vile weed constantly stalked me, outdoor activity notwithstanding. Let me so much as read a wild plant field guide and I’d break out all over. I mean ALL over. Everywhere. Head to toe and all points between. It itched. I scratched. It became infected.

I was in just such a state when Mom dragged me to Dr. Frankenstein. He made me disrobe and examined my pudgy nine-year-old carcass with one discerning eye. The other was closed in a permanent squint to avoid the smoke from the Picayune cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. He never arose from his chair.

“Got it bad, ain’t you, boy?” he growled.

I nodded tearfully as he scribbled a prescription.

The prescribed remedy was a foul-smelling over-the-counter concoction called Neoxyn. It’s a name I’ll remember until my dying day. Directions: “Apply to rash with a cotton swab and scratch with supplied applicator.” The “applicator” resembled a giant wooden Popsicle stick.

Mom followed the label’s instructions. Swab/scratch, swab/scratch.

Remember that head to toe and all points between reference? Well, the swabbed-and-scratched welts on my head burned a little. Likewise the rash on my feet. So, too, the red sores on most points between. Until THAT point between was reached. You know the spot. I’m here to say Neoxyn applied there does not burn a little, friends. It burns a lot. A whole lot. As in, point a flame thrower nozzle toward your netherparts and flip the switch.

I have no idea how to spell the bloodcurdling sound I made that day, but every neighbor in our sizable subdivision clearly heard it. Mom caught me (barely) just before I ran stark naked out the door.

Another doctor, a shot for pain, and a common-sense home remedy of cornstarch paste finally put me on the road to recovery.

Ah, yes. Health care has assuredly and positively evolved. I’ve been ushered into the urological exam room, far away from the babbling, gurgling fountain. I’ve been handed a plastic cup, the Holy Grail. My worshipful sighs of relief have echoed along every corridor. I’ve had my annual PSA bloodletting. Child’s play. A modern, super-sharp, nearly painless hypodermic wielded by expert hands.

The door opens.

Hiya, Doc.

Friendly greeting, amiably chatty, great cordiality. No squint. No Picayune. He asks about my work. He reads me regularly. I’m flattered.

Then, “Thwack!” The glove. “Squish!” The tube. “Drop ‘em!” The command. Next …Well, never mind. You get the picture.

“Feels just fine, Bob,” he cheerily reports.

Uh huh. Easy for him to say.

Then it’s over, for another year. I wryly mention the wall fountain. He says he’ll see what he can do. Nice fella. Good practitioner. He even remembers to remove the glove before shaking my hand.

If it wasn’t for the …

Aw heck, forget that. It’s a small price to pay for progress.

And there ain’t a bottle of Neoxyn in the whole joint!