Not long ago a local physician had a serious problem. This MD, we will call him Doc Joe, had a patient he could not help. Mike was killing himself. No matter what Dr. Joe did, Mike could not be saved.
Mike was 38 years old; he was married and had four children, ages 4, 7, 11, 16. He had a great job and was an important part of our community. However, he had a very strong family history of heart disease. Mike was killing himself by smoking. He smoked more then two packs each day. Doc Joe knew that Mike would be dead before his 4 year old got to high school. Doc Joe grew distressed.
Whenever Mike visited the office, Doc Joe would talk to him about smoking. He gave him pamphlets. Played an anti-cigarette DVD. Wrote prescriptions for medicines. Emphasized the danger of second hand smoke. Doc Joe begged Mike to accept the reality of his condition.
Mike did not hear. When Doc Joe spoke, Mike got a bored look in his eyes. He would think about it. He might cut back. Maybe pick up some nicorette gum. Soon, he would stop. After the problems of work have quieted down. On his next vacation. At the holidays. Only in the back yard. Mike’s smoking continued.
At the next office visit, Mike admitted that despite all the previous discussions, he was still smoking, 40 cigarettes every day. He could not heed. He would not change. Mike nodded during the harangue, just waiting for it to pass.
Doc Joe knew he had to do something. He must make Mike listen. Mike’s life was a stake. The children’s lives were in danger. Doc Joe would act. Therefore, while Mike was in the exam room, while Mike was naked for his physical, while Mike was looking the other way, Doctor Joe did the only thing he could think of;
Doc Joe stole Mike’s underwear.
Now I will grant you, this is not a conventional addiction treatment modality. It was just the start.
When Doc Joe finished the exam, he told Mike to get dressed. Mike sorted through his shirt, pants and socks…no underwear. Then he sorted through his socks, pants and shirt. Several times. The cycle continued…10 seconds…30 seconds…45 seconds. Mike grew confused. Baffled.
Doc Joe asked, “What’s the matter?”
Mike, sheepishly, “I can’t find my underwear.”
Doc Joe, amazed, “What, you don’t wear underwear?”
“No, I wear underwear, I just can find it.”
“How could you lose it?”
“I don’t know…. it must be here.”
“Where…this is a little room?”
“I don’t know…”
“What kind of a guy doesn’t wear underwear?”
Embarrassed and flustered Mike stood there, in his cold blue paper gown, trying to decide whether to get dressed without his underwear.
Doc Joe looked him in the eye and announced,” If you will quit smoking, I will give you back your underwear.”
Astonished, angry, but definitely paying attention, naked Mike listened. Doc Joe gave him the underwear. They finally had that serious talk…back and forth…. about the cigarettes. They came up with a plan to save Mike.
That was two years ago. Mike is still not smoking. He is healthier and four kids are more likely to keep their father.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Nevertheless, I would always keep an extra pair of skivvies around Doc Joe.