Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.21.09
Stanstead, Quebec


Ask the "doctor"

Whenever Canadians are asked about their priorities, one of the top responses is "health care." What they really mean is "my health." And what they really, really mean is "What's that weird tingling in my arm and will it kill me?"

This is particularly the case for the Baby Boomers, that obsessively self-absorbed demographic whose bodies have passed their best-before date. Their every twinge, ache, or burble is accompanied by a looming sense of mortality and an overwhelming urge to know the worst.

No wonder waiting rooms are so over-crowded. There's not a doctor shortage in Canada. There's a complaint surplus.

Luckily, medical advice and all-important self-gratification are just a click away: the Internet -- the greatest medical breakthrough since Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People. Whatever your symptom, no matter how embarrassing your ailment, you can look it up on the Web and have your most horrible fears confirmed.

There are hundreds of medical sites out there. The beauty of the Internet, though, is that, just because it's been done before doesn't mean it can't be done again. So, since the column-writing bag is a bit dodgy these days, I've decided to launch my own medical advice website. It's called "What's Your Problem: Because A Misdiagnosis Is Better Than No Diagnosis At All."

Here are a few examples of the queries I've received already:

Dear Dr. Ross [Note: I'm not a real doctor. However, "Dr. Ross" is my stage name in Vegas]:

I am a rare-book dealer and find myself increasingly short of breath and coughing whenever I'm searching through old libraries and used book stores. I am otherwise in reasonable health and not taking any medication. Can you help?

Cambridge, Ont.

Dear Shorty:

Old books are known to contain ignorococci bacteria, which attack the body's pulmonary system. In the past, the body built up immunities to these bacteria through exposure. However, since no one reads books any more, the bacteria have become stronger as the plots have grown thinner.

Ironically, a number of old books deal with this very subject. They include Great Expectorations, The Phlegm Also Rises, and Jane Air Quality.

My recommendation is that you either start wearing a surgical mask or take up playing video games like a normal person.

Dear Dr. Ross:

Every now and then out of the blue, I smell odours that clearly aren't there, or at least no one else can smell them. What could cause this?

Wolfville, NS

Dear Jane:

It depends what you're smelling. If you smell burnt toast, you may have had a stroke. If you smell overpoweringly fruity musk, you may have wandered into a junior high boys locker room. If you smell Ed McMahon, you may have already won $10 million! If you smell gunpowder, you may have won the battle but you lost the war. If you smell eggs, she who smelt it dealt it.

Dear Dr. Ross:

I can't feel my right side. Help!


Dear Jerome:

First of all you should confirm whether your right side is actually there. If not, there is a very good possibility you are a Looney Tunes character and have been split in half. You can confirm this by looking around for tell-tale anvils and axes.

If your right side is, in fact, intact, it's probable that you were recently abducted and probed by aliens. Or you might have just slept funny. Or it could be a bad cold. I recommend rest, video games and purchasing advertising on this website.

Dear Dr. Ross:

I can't get Jackson Browne's "Lawyers in Love" out of my head. What can I do?


Dear Andrew:

Conventional medical wisdom would suggest you are mentally ill. I, on the other hand, am quite certain you have an inflammation of the mysharona in the left humperdink. Untreated, this could develop into inagaddadavida. If you start hearing late-period Warren Zevon, call 911 immediately.