HealthLinks Upstate Sept/Oct 2022

www.Ups tatePhys i c i ansSC . com | www.Hea l thL i nksUps tate. com | 37 Way back in the 1930s, a guy named Chester Gould created a hard-boiled comic strip detective named Dick Tracy. It was a big hit. In 1946, Gould gave Tracy a new weapon in his crime-fighting crusade – a two-way radio housed in a wristwatch. This kind of communication device was almost beyond imagining at the time. Twenty years later, Tracy’s wristwatch was upgraded to a two-way TV! Some experts say that Chester Gould’s imaginary creations may have sparked interest in developing the smartwatches we all have today. If Dick Tracy’s creator were alive today, he’d be amazed to learn how his unbelievable devices have become commonplace – even in the field of medicine! Of course, I’m speaking about telemedicine, a subject I’ve pontificated on for years. Then I decided to try it myself. My doctor and I – yes, even doctors have doctors – arranged a day and time for our consultation, keeping in mind that COVID still lurks. First my doc asked my temperature. I retrieved a thermometer and reported back: 97.4. Next he asked about my blood pressure. I left him alone on the line while I dug up my old sphygmomanometer and cranked it up. My reading: 115/68. My doc was pleased. After a little lighthearted banter, my doctor asked if I’d checked my reflexes recently. I hadn’t, but I rummaged through my old black bag and found my plexor – you know, that little rubber-headed hammer – and tapped the tendon at my kneecap. I must have done it properly because my leg flew up as if some manic puppeteer had yanked on it. On the way, it kicked over an end table, sending my cup of coffee flying across the room. When I’d finished mopping up the mess, my doctor told me my reflexes looked fine from what he could see, but I should try again without the “explosive finale.” “No thanks,” I said. As our exam progressed, my remote doctor had me cough a few times. He listened carefully to my hardy tussis and declared me sounding healthy. Then things got interesting. My doc said, “This could be tricky, but I think we can pull it off.” “First,” he said, “move your screen around and tilt it down a bit,” which I did. Now, I could only see the top of his head. But he apparently was satisfied with his view. “What’s this all about,” I demanded. “Who’s the doctor here?” he snapped. I was reluctant to remind him that I was a man of medicine as well. “Now turn around and drop your drawers,” he commanded and I obliged. “Wait a second,” I shouted when it struck me. “You’re not thinking about a prostate exam, are you???” “Well,” he confessed. “It wouldn’t be as personal as these exams you enjoy so much in the office, but I could just take a look!” That marked the first time I had any inkling that my doctor had a sense of humor. I think for now at least, I’ll sign up for an office visit, and, just like anyone else, wait my turn for an in-person consultation. And while I’m in his waiting room I’ll use my own handy twoway TV (thanks, Apple) to look up some great pranks I can pull on him. After all, in the comics, Dick Tracy always got his man. And so will I! PRANKS IN THE AGE OF TELEHEALTH The Lighter Side of Health Care By Dr. Duke