By W. Bruce Cameron

When it comes to the problem of health care costs, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t just do what I do, which is to have a sister who is a doctor.

As a result of my brilliant program, not only are my patient costs lower than the national average, but I am also the beneficiary of new, cutting-edge medical treatments, many of which I’ve made up myself. By calling my sister and teaching her my intelligent health care theories (“interactive medicine”), I not only promote my own wellness, I can also, through my sister, give back to the patient community, sharing with it advanced medical practices such as my Beer-and-Pizza Diet.

It came to me rather suddenly, though it’s been right there in front of me for a long time: When I was in college, I ate almost nothing but beer and pizza, and I was so skinny that when I crossed my legs I gave myself a paper cut.

I told my sister about this astonishing scientific study, and she patiently explained that I should stop calling her. “You were 20 years old! That was 10 years ago!” she raved in a most unprofessional manner.

(In the interest of fair reporting, I will note that she didn’t actually say “10 years ago.” She used a different number, but I changed it because I found it scientifically upsetting.)

I didn’t want to insult my sister, so I suggested that she probably was just a bad doctor. I did go on the (pat. pending) Beer-and-Pizza Diet — though not exclusively, because nowadays I can also afford ice cream. And I did lose weight, as evidenced by a new bathroom scale that I purchased to prove my theory and probably earn an honorary medical degree from Yale.

“Five pounds in just a week,” I told her. “Do you have any other medical questions I can help you with?”

She made her voice sound all doctor-like and apprehensive, telling me that unexplained weight loss is a reason to be happy.

(She didn’t say “happy,” she said “concerned,” but I changed it to how I was really feeling. Such are the wonders of interactive medicine.)

“It’s not unexplained,” I reasoned. “It’s from beer and pizza. Oh, and also nachos.”

I told her she should drop by to see me and bring her doctor bag because I wanted a nose job. When she arrived, she marched straight back to my bathroom and stepped on the scale. “Aha!” she shouted.

I corrected her: “I think the term is actually ‘Eureka!’ ”

“This says I’ve lost eight pounds since this morning!” she yelled at me.

“Really? Did you have pizza for lunch or something?”

She made me come back to look. “See what happens when I get off the scale? The starting weight is a negative 8 pounds!” She showed me, and sure enough, the needle was left of zero by a full eight clicks, as if the beer and pizza had been consumed by the scales themselves.

“You do know what this means, don’t you?” my sister asked. (I apologize that in the interests of fair reporting she comes off sounding so mean.)

She was not amused when I posited the very reasonable theory that perhaps we were looking at proof of anti-gravity. Instead, she broke the scale so that the needle aligned with the zero, and when I stepped on it I had gained a lot of weight!

(To keep from upsetting you, I won’t reveal the amount of weight gain — let’s just say I was no longer experiencing the medical condition known as “happy.”)

My sister then patiently talked to me about healthy foods and exercise, and how I needed to take better care of myself, making me long for the days when she used to care about me. She said my so-called metabolism had slowed somewhat since I was in college five years ago (she didn’t say “five”). This metabolic slowdown is a medical condition known as “unfair.”

So the upside to my solution to the health care situation is that your sister will provide you with free advice.

The downside? She’ll ruin your bathroom scale.

To write Bruce Cameron, visit his Web site at

© 2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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