by Lee Pitts

Recently our health insurance company switched us from an HMO to a PPO, whatever that is. But the medical group my great doctor is a part of doesn’t take PPO, so we were told we had to switch doctors. I told my doctor, “How ’bout if I just pay you in cash or by check out of my own pocket, and we forget about the insurance company. I want to keep you as my doctor.”

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Lee Pitts is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email them at

Here are his exact words in response: “We don’t take cash.”


Can you believe that?

During the COVID crisis, my elderly neurologist, who was also a great doctor, got scared and stopped seeing his patients. In fact, he went out of business without telling anyone. He has all my records, and his phone no longer works. I was given a choice of two local neurologists, one I’d already been to and quit, and the other one can’t see me until November after calling for the appointment in April. This for a patient who is having seizures, terrible headaches, and mobility problems, all as a result of a couple strokes, and I can’t see a neurologist FOR SEVEN MONTHS!

The reason I liked my former doctor was that he was old school. If you go to a new young doctor today, I guarantee they’re going to do three things: they’re gonna write you a prescription for some drug, refer you to another doctor, and check your prostate. (My new doctor said my prostate felt good, but I didn’t think so.) And that’s the sum total of what your doc will do, so you have no choice but to be your own doctor.

I’m also having to have my teeth pulled because all the poisonous medicines they gave me to save my life rotted my teeth. During a recent toothache, I asked my wife, “What did people do before they had dentists when they had a terrible toothache?”

She replied, “They died. Or they drank a lot of whiskey.”

But if I drink alcohol, I get acute pancreatitis, and the death option doesn’t appeal to me! So, being my own doctor, I researched the matter and came up with a couple old-time remedies. I could tickle a mule’s foot or spit into a frog’s mouth and ask it to leave and take my toothache with it. Or, I could wet the forefinger of my right hand and cross the front of my left shoe three times while reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards.

My research on toothaches was proving so beneficial I wondered if some old-time solution could get rid of my headaches and seizures. I found one old remedy that sounded promising. I was supposed to lean against a tree and have my wife stand on the opposite side of the tree and pound a nail into the tree trunk. We tried it. The tree died, and I still had a headache. In other words, it worked about as well as the pain meds the docs prescribe. The docs are so afraid of being caught up in the opioid crises that the pain pills they prescribe are like sugar pills. After the doc pulled my last tooth, a rotten molar, he sent me home without any pain meds at all!

Many years ago, the chronic pain was eating me up, so my wife and I went to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. It’s supposed to be the best, right? We spent a week there, and I was assigned a doctor who spent the week playing hide and seek with me. I saw him a grand total of TWO TIMES! After being home from the wasted trip, I got a letter from my Mayo doc telling me that to get rid of my pain, I needed this very tricky operation, but only a few docs could perform it. So I asked my surgeon if he could do it, and he said, “Why not?”

So he put in about three miles of dacron tubing to replace the arteries going to my internal organs. My surgeon had a sick sense of humor, and in his follow-up report, he wrote, “The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for his original complaints.”

So cowboys, next time you get sick, I have two words of advice: Heal thyself.