Oranges and Apples

But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.
~ John 4:32

A modern parable. He who has ears to hear …

A knock and the door opened.

“See-mus Nielson. I’m Dr. Young.”

“It’s pronounced ‘shay-mus’. Seamus is an Irish name, but call me ‘Sham.’ That’s been my name since I was little.”

“Interesting, Mr. Nielson. What seems to be the trouble today?”

Sham’s first impression of the doc was unfavorable. At least his name was truth in advertising. Sham guessed he couldn’t be more than 35-years-old.

“I don’t know what’s wrong. I am exhausted all the time. Everything hurts. A small cut and I bleed like a stuck hog. Then it takes forever to heal up.”

Dr. Young stood up and began going through usual physical exam. “What are these bruises on your arm?”

Sham looked down at his arm. “Must’ve been the other day. I had to crawl under my car to get something I dropped.”

“Mr. Nielson, a nurse will be in in a minute to take some blood. We’re going to do some tests and I will be back in a little while.”

Sham knew the drill. The nurse would draw blood and he would be sitting in the little room for a long time. Events unfolded as expected and the doctor eventually came back in.

“Mr. Nielson, tell me about your diet.”

“I’m not on a diet.”

“No, I mean what you eat regularly. Just give me a general rundown of what you typically eat.”

Sham scratched his chin and thought. “Well, just the usual stuff really. I might open up a pack of breakfast buns for breakfast. Candy bars, snack cakes, potato chips during the day. Occasionally I go out and get a burger and fries. I drink coffee and soda and sometimes water, but I tell you, I never much liked drinking water.”

Dr. Young looked up from his iPad. “Do you eat any fresh fruits and vegetables?”

“No, they go bad too quick, so I quit buying them a long time ago.”

“Mr. Nielson, do you cook any of your meals?”

Sham laughed. “Cook? No I don’t cook. Look, I’m busy and don’t have time for all that. I prefer to just grab something quick and easy that tastes good. You’re talking about taking time and work. You doctors are always giving the diet-and-exercise routine as if that’s the answer to everything. What’s all this got to do with anything?”

“Mr. Nielson, you have scurvy.”

“Scurvy? You mean like a pirate.”

“Well, yes. It’s a vitamin C deficiency, but it’s treatable.”

Sham leaned back in his chair. “How could this happen?”

“Mr. Nielson, you only eat processed and packaged foods. You’ve been depriving your body of the nutrients it needs for a long time and that’s why you’re experiencing the symptoms you are. Your body is telling you it’s not right and trying to get your attention. Again, it’s treatable, but untreated it’s fatal. I’m going to get you set up with some vitamin C supplements and you will begin feeling better pretty soon, though it usually takes a couple months or so to fully recover. But, Mr. Nielson, you have to change your diet to a balanced and healthy diet so your body gets the full nutrition it needs. I’m including a reference to a nutritionist, Dr. McLawson. He’s very good at this sort of thing and he has an Irish name too. Or, maybe it’s Scottish. Anyway, you need a plan and you need to stick to it.”

Sham stared at Dr. Young. “I don’t see how this could happen. I’m the spitting image of my dad. He was fit and healthy his whole life until he died. He played pro ball. Everybody’s always said I look just like him and sound just like him.”

“Mr. Nielson, it sounds like your dad was disciplined and balanced and took care of his health. Did he teach you anything about diet and exercise?”

You would have thought Dr. Young had just asked Sham to explain the theory of relativity. “I don’t know. I learned everything I know from him. I even got his sense of humor.”

“Mr. Nielson, you have a lot of love and respect for your dad. That’s great. You’ve inherited a lot from him genetically. But, Mr. Nielson, you can’t inherit good health really. You have to do the work and focus on the right things, like your dad did apparently, if you want to be healthy like he was.”

Sham thought for a minute and almost laughed. “Boy, you doctors think you know everything.”

About Jeff Short