Dan and the Wisdom of Dr. Thaler of Kittery Family Practice

In conversation with my ping pong buddy, George Derby, I learned that at the end of his appointment, his primary care doc, Dr. Fred Thaler would ask him one final question – From one to ten, how are you doing?

Dr. Fred Thaler

Whoa.  Love a doctor taking the holistic approach to the care of his patient.  Shoot and score, Fred!

I know Dr. Thaler. One time, when my usual Dr. Graziano was not available, I had Dr. Thaler check me out. What I do remember of that appointment that he took the time to better understand my recent (June 2017) Transient Global Amnesia episode. By the way, Kittery Family Practice has a bunch of such docs.

Imagine if we all took the time to ask that question to our family and friends and really listen to the response. That’s next level!

I just wanted to add Fred’s Question to your repertoire of how you might interact with your world during these tumultuous days, weeks, and months ahead.

Fun fact – Dr. Thaler was a high school classmate of Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, yes of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. 

Click here to learn more about my Transient Global Amnesia episode.

Dan and Hannah Have Different Approaches to their Medical Issues (Part 2 of 2)

Hartford HospitalAfter an MRI and CAT scan, the local Windham Hospital ER docs had no answers and believed I needed to go to Connecticut’s top hospital (Hartford Hospital) an hour away; so I was packed off in an ambulance for the state capital.  While in the ambulance, the fog began to lift. I started talking to the EMT in the back of the ambulance and remembering the names of my Eastern colleagues.  I could focus on words posted inside the ambulance and could read again.

By midnight, the ER docs at Hartford Hospital sent me home saying they weren’t sure what was going on, but I should check in with a neurologist back in Maine.  There, after examining me, Dr. Brown had no answers; he told me that he had seen 10,000 patients and none had symptoms similar to mine.  Feeling fine by Sunday, I returned to teaching the following day in Connecticut.  Over these last 13 years, nothing like that has happened again.

Fast forward to this past week.  In his thoroughness and much to my gratitude, Dr. Thaler takes the time to listen to my story of my “health episode.”  He is just as puzzled about my current condition as Dr. Brown was back in the day.

While checking my vital signs however, Dr. Thaler does find that I have a heart murmur.  Son of a gun.  On a six point scale of heart murmurs, I am between a one and a two.  In the days prior to my visit with Dr. Thaler, I felt great having climbed Moxie Bald in Maine and worked out daily at the gym.  Good catch, Dr. T.

carotid arteryEven though he doesn’t find any explanation for what I was feeling in my neck, he does set up a carotid ultrasound at York Hospital, which I am having tomorrow morning; next week I will have an echocardiogram.  Stay tuned.

Hannah has been very successful with her approach to medical care.  My approach works for me.  Chacun a son gout.  Each to his own.  And a big shout out to Dr. Thaler who found the heart murmur that could have gone undetected for quite some time.


Dan and Hannah Have Different Approaches to their Medical Issues (Part 1 of 2)

Exhibit A – Hannah

Spider Woman

Spider Woman with her magic tape

You may remember that three years ago Hannah had successful surgery to repair her busted left tibia after a waterskiing mishap.  Lately, it’s her right knee joint that has been giving her trouble.  Two weeks ago, she limped noticeably and could not even go to the gym to workout.  Hannah’s approach to her injury is home self-care; allow it to heal on its own.  Eventually she did consult with a physical therapist friend who recommended lots of rest and magic tape.  Hannah’s done well not being stupid (her words) and has taken it easy.  Lately, her gait is steadier as she now can walk nearly a mile and slow-bike up to eight miles.

Hannah feels our bodies heal themselves if we give them time. She also does not want to burden the already overburdened health care system with unnecessary visits to the doctor.  For much of her young life, she just went down to the hall in her childhood home to see her dad, Doc Kraai, for any ailments.  She’s also just tough and has a high pain tolerance.  After breaking her leg, it was 14 hours before she went to see the doctor.  She had a glass of wine in the interim.

Exhibit B – Dan

I on the other hand can be soft.  I am all for using my Medicare coverage whenever I feel the need.

KFP logoUpon feeling a faint sensation below my right ear time and again for the past five days, I decide to have it checked out.  It turns out my primary care physician of 30 years, Dr. Graziano, at Kittery Family Practice here in southern Maine, is on hospital duty this week and is not available; thankfully there is another veteran on the staff, Dr. Thaler, with an open 215P appointment for me.

For forty minutes, Dr. Thaler questions, listens, and examines me thoroughly and still is unable to find anything that may explain the slight intermittent sensation I’ve been feeling in my neck. Checking my medical history, he wonders if there is a connection to my “health episode” 13 years ago.

Windham HospitalIn the fall of 2002, at the start of my Teaching Reading course to 25 graduate students at Eastern Connecticut State University, I began turning pale and my vision blurred such that I couldn’t even read the names of the students on my class list.   Very shortly thereafter, my department chair, Dr. Stoloff, drove me to the Windham Hospital ER in Willimantic to see what was up.  By that time, I was losing my memory.  I couldn’t even remember the names of my Eastern colleagues.  Then it was our kids’ names that seemed to be going down a tunnel away from me.  I was alert enough to wonder if I would have to learn how to use a fork and knife again.  I also couldn’t speak.  Let me tell you I was spooked. (to be continued tomorrow)