When a can of sugared soda pop is a good thing


I took care of some people with warts

I examined some teens who play sports

    Ears gave up wax plugs

    And I didn’t give drugs

To people with colds, coughs, and snorts.

Here in Grand Island I see a lot of people approaching or in retirement.

Successful retirees work part-time; they like the reduced load. 

Some dread retirement, they’re not sure what they’re going to do when it comes.  Most would like the same job with no overtime.

A few can’t wait to retire.  In general, they have no enthusiasm for any kind of exercise.  Their passionless marital relationships give no satisfaction, they hate their jobs, and they have no hobbies.  They don’t know what they’re going to do when they retire besides not work. I try to point out that retiring from constitutes a fatal strategy, but retiring to leads to a good time in the golden years.

I take a keen interest in the subject because of my current situation.  I love my work, I don’t want to stop, but I want to slow down before I burn out. 

I really had no idea how many hours I worked till I went to Alaska and started filling out a time sheet; sixty-three hours was a relief.

My wife tells me back home people think I’ve retired.  I prefer to say I’m on sabbatical for a year.  When I come back to Sioux City I’ll work an average of 40 hours a week, see a less affluent clientele, and make less money. 

I don’t squelch the retirement rumor because I want to slow down.  In the year that I’m gone, I expect a lot of my patients will find other doctors.  If they don’t, I’m going to be swamped when I come back.

My current temporary assignment has a wonderful pace of work.  I get to educate the patients and answer questions without worrying if I’m going to end up an hour behind at the end of the day. 

Today I saw more than one patient with warts, several folks with cough, two with fever, four general physicals, two workman’s compensation injuries, among others. Two folks just plain didn’t feel good. 

One patient got sick because of caregiving-related overcommitment, and readily accepted the diagnosis of too much stress.

Five patients needed to apply cold to an injured body part, and I told them about using a can of sugared, not diet, soft drink.  I explained a metal interface with a low viscosity, high specific heat (the amount of heat a substance can absorb) liquid cools a body part faster than anything.

I stumbled on that pearl during the time when I suffered from wrist tendonitis.  My forearms throbbing at lunch, I reached a pop can out of the ice and held the aluminum to the inflamed tissue.  In the resulting Aha moment I figured out the physics, and wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.

Something else I learned from experience, not from medical school.

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2 Responses to “When a can of sugared soda pop is a good thing”

  1. Chaya Shuchat Says:

    Can you explain why sugared soda works better than diet?

    • walkaboutdoc Says:

      The point of the cooling is heat absorbtion. The way we measure heat absorbing capacity is in heat units absorbed per weight units (example, calories per gram). Because NINE teaspoons of sugar are dissolved in a can of soda (you read that right: nine), that sugar can do the work you want it to: absorbing heat. The way that it cools is by establishing convection cells: heated liquid rises to the top, cools, then falls again; much the same way water on a stove boils. So that frozen soda won’t work nearly as well, nor will liquids (like honey) that have so much sugar they don’t flow well.

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