Tuesday, November 01, 2005

José: A boy at heart

...at least according to his cardiologist.

[This was written 10 days ago. I had some technical difficulties at the time and was able to save it but not post it. Think of it as bonus content for being so patient during the retreat!]

The doctor who saw him in the ER last week didn't (bother/have time to/take the opportunity to) speak with them, but he did talk to José's nephew, Humberto, who works (in a non-medical capacity) at a different hospital.

He told Humberto that José's blood pressure had spiked, but that his heart was fine and that the event was triggered by something he ate.

The expensive, well-recommended cardiologist he saw yesterday? Said pretty much the same thing. It was the spicy fried sausage. José's blood pressure has been fine (his usual 120/80) all week, and he apparently passed whatever tests were administered yesterday with flying colors.

The cardiologist's verdict: It was the spicy fried sausage and Jose has "the heart of a boy." But he must lose weight.

So. I guess it was the sausage. But you guys? Help me out with this. Can a large serving of spicy, greasy food cause blood pressure to spike in someone with a healthy heart, who is not prone to hypertension, and who has eaten this kind of thing before? Maybe it can.

Doctors here are generally well trained, and many studied medicine in first-world countries. But a certain cultural difference remains. I generally assume it's one of two things: I think some doctors try to reassure patients by putting things in terms they are familiar with, or by attributing a condition to something that the patient probably already believes. Example: A new mother I knew was told by her doctor that she should feed her baby from both breasts at each feeding because "one is sweet and the other is savory."

Other times, I wonder if doctors' training justifies (at least to them) the folk wisdom they grew up believing. Example: My own pediatrician instructing me that infant Robin should be bathed "every day that God gives us on this Earth."

And then there is all the folk wisdom that people believe and practice without consulting a doctor. I think a lot of these remedies are probably rooted in real phenomena. Example: Many people regularly treat minor ills with various herbs that they either grow themselves or buy at the market. Oregano in hot milk is one - I don't remember what it's for, but it doesn't taste too bad. Various mints, rosemary, chamomile, etc. are also common. Another example: Someone who suffers from indigestion for several days is said to have a pega (a "blockage" I guess you'd say), and will seek out the person in their neighborhood who knows how to sobar. This is a firm, sometimes painful massage of certain points on one or both forearms, often with shortening for lubrication. Everyone I know who has had this done says that the "blockage" is relieved within the day, and digestion returns to normal.

Of course there are other beliefs that are psychosomatic at best and downright harmful at worst. Example: Can't think of any off the top of my head, and I really have to get my stuff together now. The retreat ladies are coming on Thursday and I have to go over to Rita's to help her set up this afternoon. Bye!


Lisa November 10, 2005 12:17 PM  


I would have been patient during the retreat, had I known about it.

Sister. High Point. Parents. Greenville. Phone calls maybe once a month. Fortunately the once a month was a couple days ago so I did finally find out why you weren't in touch. (Anyway, in case you think telling them stuff means you're telling us all, you're wrong. They don't shart squat most of the time. Sorry folks, but it's true....)

So. More updates for the sister please!

And I'm really glad you're back! :)

Jennifer November 10, 2005 4:20 PM  

Here's the thing. In this post I did write that the retreat was Thursday and that we were getting ready for it.

But then I had trouble actually posting it. In fact I lost it and had to re-compose the whole thing. Finally I was able to save it in Blogger as a draft, but I still couldn't get it to post to the actual blog.

Once the retreat started, of course I shifted gears and didn't really think about it...except for the subconsious awareness that I had kind of "signed off" for the week in this post so everyone would know why I was gone.

The part about it still being in the "drafts" folder didn't actually penetrate, so I didn't get back in to post it until today.

Anyway, my point is that in my own mind I had told you about it, so in a way you shouldn't feel that I was excluding you.

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