The Best Medicine




Humor is the seventh sense. And just like all the others — vision, touch and smell, etc. — it varies from person to person and from situation to situation. From John Kerry’s “botched joke” to George Bush’s unintentional ones, there’s plenty of evidence that the one bone in the body that has never been X-rayed, splinted or sketched in “Grey’s Anatomy” is the funny bone. To cast a little light on this fact we’re devoting a feature story to some local people who have 20/20 senses of humor and prominent (if invisible) funny bones (see page 44). However, the main story in this issue is the results of our Top Doctors poll and some interesting profiles on health care in New Hampshire. Now, the fact that we also have a story on the funniest people in the Granite State should not for a moment suggest that we don’t take doctors and health care seriously. Actually, my experience is that the only people who don’t take doctors all that seriously is the doctors themselves. My evidence comes from a party we host each year to celebrate the physicians who have been picked by their peers as Top Doctors of N.H. We interview these remarkable specialists for fun facts and amusing personal details to share from the podium and there are always plenty. Among the humorous (or at least, whimsical) facts we’ve gleaned: Dr. Robert Thies, a neurologist at Catholic Medical Center and Elliot Hospital, is a fan of the surreal 1960s comedy team The Firesign Theatre and can quote from their album “We’re All Bozos On This Bus.” Pathologist David Donkser of Exeter Hospital has birds on the brain and admits he takes ornithology almost as seriously as pathology. Rheumatologist Hoke Shirley of Concord and New London Hospital is a stage dad, who is grooming his talented son to become Broadway’s next “Oliver.” Elliot Hospital gynecologist Gary Wasserman sold his “great” comic book collection to help pay his way through medical school. Bedford-based hand surgeon Jinsong Wang is a champion ping pong player. Concord Hospital reconstructive surgeon Wayne Stadlemann collects antique tractors, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock obstetrician Emily Baker gets up at 4:45 a.m., three times a week, to play hockey before work. Finally, heart surgeon Benjamin Westbrook of CMC, Elliot and Parkland Medical Center had no humorous anecdotes to share, but he above all others was in need of a good sense of humor. Westbrook and his wife were already raising eight kids when she found out she was pregnant — with twins. So if this group of the state’s finest doctors can lighten up and have a laugh at their own expense, it’s probably something they would prescribe for you — and me.

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