George Graham

A Cheerful Visit to the Doctor is the Best Medicine, After All

doctorMy doctor is from Cuba. His name is Manuel Hernandez, and he is a delight, always upbeat, always smiling, always encouraging.

A while back, when he told me I would be due for a colonoscopy in three years, I said gloomily, “If I live that long.” After all, I am in my seventies and that seemed really, really old to me. My father died at 70.

But my doctor’s eyes widened and he slapped the lab report in front of him emphatically. “I will guarantee it,” he said. “I’ll give it to you in writing.”

Today, I was at the doctor’s office as a follow-up to a visit last week. It was also my regular quarterly check-up. The visit a week ago was necessary because my right big toe and most of my right foot had suddenly become swollen and extremely painful. I looked up the symptoms on the Internet and figured I must have gout.  Dr. Hernandez ordered blood work and an x-ray, and gave me some little white pills called colchicine. Unfortunately the pills had some nasty side effects, chief among which was the mother of all diarrheas. So Sandra phoned Dr. Hernandez and he told her to take me off the pills till further notice.

There’s still some swelling in my foot, but the pain is a shadow of its former self, so I figure I’m on the way to recovery.

And the news today was all good. My urea level was normal; I wasn’t suffering from gout. And the x-rays showed nothing more serious than arthritis. Dr. Hernandez prescribed Tylenol Arthritis to help reduce the swelling.

Then he went through the lab results, repeating the word, “normal” over and over.  My kidneys, which had been acting up, were behaving much better. Diabetes was under control. Blood pressure was 120 over 60. And so on.

Then, as he always does, he meticulously listened to my heart, checked for swollen ankles, made me breathe in and out to hear how my lungs were holding up…

Few doctors still do that. I went to a diabetes specialist here in Lakeland, Florida for several years, and he never once laid a hand on me. I decided to find another physician when I noticed that a lot of the patients in his waiting room had no legs.

Anyway, from what Dr. Hernandez had to say today, it definitely looks as if I’m going to live for another three years.

“You’re doing a great job keeping me alive, doctor,” I told him.

He looked at me very seriously.

“Don’t thank me,” he said. “Thank the man upstairs.”

Indeed. Thank you, Lord.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for