Sound Bytes and Sound Bites


Years ago, I read of an experiment in which an anesthetized coyote was given a near fatal dose of poisoned lamb by stomach tube.  On recovery he would not eat lamb, even though he had not tasted the poisoned lamb.  Sometimes, given the directions take 1 or 2 tablets for severe pain, patients will take 2 tablets for their first dose and be upset resulting in refusal to try 1 tablet which might have helped without the upset.  I call it the poisoned coyote attitude.  This is probably why, when previously prescription only drugs are sold without prescription, the pill size is cut in half and the recommended dose is two pills.


In New Zealand they gain weight in winter and lose in the summer as we do even though they have Christmas in the summer and they have no comparable event in winter to blame for weight gain.  Remember, our seasons are reversed compared to theirs.  Furthermore, it is harder to get used to riding a bicycle on the left side of the road than it is to drive a car on the left because you cannot get a bicycle with the handlebars on the wrong side.


People who are supposed to stop smoking are frequently overly proud of themselves for cutting down.  The health hazards of smoking are readily demonstrated statistically in long term smokers smoking 5 or fewer cigarettes per day.  I have a parable about a novitiate nun caught climbing the vines to get in the convent on a Saturday night.  She had been sneaking out for dates.  When called before her superior, she explained that after all it had been only about once a month.  Sister Superior’s reply: “That’s plenty often enough to keep the craving alive.”  Even non Catholic smokers catch on.


The stomach isn’t necessary for digesting food.  It is primarily a convenient reservoir to meter food to the intestines no faster than they can process it.  When we eat our salad first, our intestines identify it as not the “real stuff” and we stay hungry.  Eating salad first is good strategy for young people attempting to get their money’s worth at a smorgasbord.  Most of us should eat some meat and potatoes first and then switch to salad.  This switch requires a brief act of the will if we are still hungry.  By doing this, we con our appetite mechanism into interpreting the increasingly filled stomach as full of all “real stuff”.  This makes us much more willing to pass up second helpings of meat and potatoes.  Like eating slowly, this strategy helps our appetite mechanism to make correct interpretations.


The vast majority of people who really benefit from wearing spectacles do in fact wear them most of their waking hours.  About half of those who would really benefit from using hearing aids do wear them consistently.  False teeth use in those without teeth falls part way between spectacles and hearing aids.  When I get a new patient not wearing their newly acquired false teeth, I suggest wearing them between meals and taking them out to eat.  This is enough wearing that the false teeth continue to fit.  Sooner or later, they absentmindedly eat a snack without removing them, the beginning of the rest of their lives.  This is my deepest poaching into dentistry and, to my knowledge, has caused no offense to dentists.

John A. Frantz                                       See also: 1) Smoking, and 2) Alcohol both under

Chairman, Monroe Board of Health                                            Recreational Drugs

June 11, 2001