Skip to main content


What's Up, Docs?

By Jerry Zezima

Laughter, goes an old saying, is the best medicine. And, I would add, because I’m old myself, the cheapest.

It was the prescription for a smooth transition from my old doctor, who always told me jokes but is now retiring, to my new physician, who not only has an excellent sense of humor but is the only doctor I have ever had who is younger than I am.

My former medicine man, Dr. Antoun Mitromaras, is hanging up his stethoscope after more than half a century of doctoring.

“What are you going to do in retirement?” I asked him during my last office visit.

“Watch TV,” said Dr. Mitromaras, who is 81.

He’s the guy who gave me the best medical advice ever. I once asked him if he had seen those commercials for prescription medications with side effects that include death.

“Yes,” Dr. Mitromaras said.

“Have patients asked you about them?” I wanted to know.

“Yes,” the good doctor replied.

“What do you tell them?” I wondered.

“If they can kill you,” he said, “don’t take them.”

He also told me jokes that were often too risqué to repeat here.

“Tell me one I can repeat in polite company,” I said.

“This guy dies and goes to the Pearly Gates,” Dr. Mitromaras began. “St. Peter says, ‘I’ll let you in if you can relieve me for a little while. I’m tired and want to take a nap.’ The guy asks what he has to do. St. Peter says, ‘Ask anyone who shows up how to spell love. If they get it right, let them in. If not, send them downstairs.’ Several people show up and spell love correctly, so the guy lets them in. Then his mother-in-law arrives. The guy has never gotten along with her. She says, ‘I hear there’s a spelling test.’ The guy nods and says, ‘Spell Czechoslovakia.’ ”

I didn’t expect to have as many laughs with my new physician, Dr. Sanjay Sangwan, but I had a great time during my initial visit.

“You have a pulse,” he informed me. “And a heartbeat.”

“That’s good to know,” I said. “Do I have brain activity?”

“I’d have to run some tests to make sure,” replied Dr. Sangwan, who just turned 51.

“You’re the first doctor I have ever had who is younger than I am,” I told him.

“How old are you?” he inquired.

“I’m a little more than a year away from being 70,” I said.

Dr. Sangwan raised his eyebrows in surprise and said, “You look like you’re in your 50s.”

“God bless you,” I said, shaking his hand. “By the way, how’s your eyesight?”

“You got me there,” he said, adjusting his glasses. “But I see by your family history that longevity is common.”

“Yes,” I said. “My mother is about to turn 98. And she’s sharper than I am. Of course, so are houseplants, but that’s another story.”

“You have good genes,” Dr. Sangwan told me.

“My wife bought my jeans,” I said, pointing to my denim pants. “I have more at home.”

The doctor looked over my paperwork and said, “You’ve had kidney stones.”

“Six or seven,” I noted. “I regret to say that I’ve had to number them like the Super Bowl.”

“They can be painful,” Dr. Sangwan said.

“When I had my first one, a nurse told me that it’s the male equivalent of childbirth,” I said. “I told her that at least I wouldn’t have to put the stone through college.”

When I mentioned I have another one that is tucked away on my right side, Dr. Sangwan said, “Keep an eye on it.”

“I can’t lower my head that far,” I said.

He smiled and said, “You’ve really brightened my morning.”

Dr. Sangwan and his wonderful staff brightened mine, too.

“Welcome to the practice,” he said as I headed out.

“It’s nice to be your newest patient even though I’m really old,” I said. “And that’s no joke.”

— Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Tribune News Service, which distributes it to newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of six books, Leave It to BoomerThe Empty Nest ChroniclesGrandfather Knows BestNini and Poppie’s Excellent AdventuresEvery Day Is Saturday and One for the Ageless, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.

Previous Post

The Gift of Time (and a Bathrobe)

Kristen Mulrooney spent seven years “writing in 10-minute increments” around caring for three young children. What could she do with some alone time? In two weeks she wrote 75,000 words — the first draft of a humorous novel — in a hotel room in Dayton, Ohio.

Read More
Next Post

Erma Magic

"I've attended plenty of retreats, conferences and workshops, and I usually feel a high after each one, but the high I feel after the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop is next-level," wrote one attendee on a survey rating the 2022 workshop. "I feel like my brain is in a vortex, but it is a magical, life-affirming one."
Read More