Humor In Real Life

Published 8:16 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

   In the company of three physicians and a veterinarian recently during a three-day span, I queried their personnel about day-to-day occurrences that make them smile.

In three cases, answers came quickly. The vet, however, thoughtfully detailed a foul-up at a clinic decades ago. Hearing the account makes me wonder if it is included in lectures at the mother school of veterinary medicine, Texas A&M University. If not, it should be.

I now present them, one at a time.

The staffer at Ophthalmology Associates says this one happens daily. When patients are asked to open their eyes, some can’t. “Okay,” she says, “Open your mouth.” Almost always, both eyes and mouth fly open.

A hygienist at Dr. Marshall Brown’s office confirms the “trick” works in reverse, too, admitting, though, that patients can almost always open their mouths on command.

For her, humor comes regularly after patients stretch out in the dental chair. As she prepares to take blood pressure readings, it is common to ask them to uncross their legs. More times than not, she claims, their legs are crossed, either right over left, or vice versa. They almost always simply reverse the leg crossing configuration, at which time she says–politely, I should add–“No, let’s try it again. Uncross your legs. When they are side by side, I can get an accurate reading.”

At Solis Women’s Health, there aren’t as many predictable humor moments as there were when the women’s lockers had no locks. Now they have keys, not that larceny was ever prevalent. Occasional absent-mindedness and leanings toward senility are obvious, but not nearly as often as when there were no locks. (Please try not to get ahead of me!)

For years, some patients forgot which lockers were theirs. And yes, they left ALL clothing items in the lockers, donning instead those contrary gowns that have strings in the back that are hard to tie or snaps difficult to get lined up.

Sometimes, patients who entered in orange pant suits might depart in purple dresses, usually only minutes before another patient is screaming, “Someone stole all my clothes!” Usually, the offending patient discovers her mistake and returns immediately for the “big swap.” Occasionally, though, they had to be reminded.

The vet story, long ago and far away, perhaps involves forgetfulness at best or senility at worst. One morning, a fellow brought in his dog. After listening to the vet rattle off all the problems and learning the dog was near death, he decided the humane thing to do was have the dog put down.

The vet said he would take care of the matter. The dog was bedded down at the clinic, and the man returned to his home nearby. Oh, no! The vet simply forgot and somehow the dog managed to get out the back door. At day’s end, the pet owner called the vet, asking, “Did you put my dog down?” The vet answered affirmatively, figuring he could still do so within minutes to correct an outright lie.

“Well, there’s something I can’t understand,” said the perplexed owner. “There’s a dog at my back door, and he looks exactly like mine.”

I can’t leave veterinary stories without recounting one said to have occurred during the Depression. A contrary woman the vet hated to see coming showed up at the end of a harried week. He dreaded the tirade that always accompanied her learning “going rates.”

She felt it was time to put down her ancient cat. She asked the vet what the charge would be. He answered, “Seven dollars.” She was livid, dismayed it would cost anywhere close to that. “Is there any way you can do it cheaper?” she questioned.

Rubbing his chin, he answered, “Tell you what. I’ll take the cat out back and choke it to death for $2.”

By the way, the doctor who performed my recent retina surgery is pleased with the progress, and my hygienist is reducing thrice-annual visits to two.

I’m still plodding along in 18th year since open-heart surgery and my wife is in her seventh year since breast cancer surgery. And our dogs? Doing great; no vet bills yet this month.

We are blessed.


   Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.