Sooner or later, you will visit your family doctor and he may tell you your blood pressure is exceeding the limits set by NASA, the CIA and possibly the FBI. Of course, this may depend on your age, your weight and whether or not you gave up salt at age 4, have no bad habits, ate vegetables all your life and regularly have two apples with your morning coffee.

There is a reason for this. First, you sit in a waiting room for an hour and in spite of yourself, you start diagnosing the other patients who are waiting. The fellow on the end who weighs about 250 and has flushed cheeks obviously has high blood pressure.

But wait — do not be too hasty with your diagnosis. The lady who is sitting by him, probably his wife, is giving him a hard time. “I told you,” she said, “we were in a 40-mile-an-hour speed zone and you were driving 60. And why,” she added, “did you call that policeman a Nazi?”

Then, she notices you listening and asks, “What is your trouble, Buster?”

Finally, you are directed to a small room where there is nothing to read but an eye chart. You take off your glasses and discover you can read the chart much better without them. Somebody, somewhere, goofed. About $150 worth, you remember.

The doctor finally comes in wearing a white coat like they all do. Your blood pressure jumps up higher than your water bill. Do not worry. This is known worldwide as “White coat syndrome.” It happens to everybody. You may get blood pressure pills anyway. Take them if you do.

Sometime back, I was required by a doctor in a white coat to wear a heart monitor for 24 hours. This happened to me not once, but twice. The thing was in a little black box which was buckled around my waist with a bunch of wires running inside my shirt.

I would enter a restaurant to eat and the place would be empty in 10 seconds flat. In Baghdad, I would have been shot. I’m glad I wasn’t there and I appreciate the brave men and women who are.

My next experience was with something called an EKG. It is also hooked up with a bunch of wires and kicks out a long piece of paper with squiggly lines on it like a lie detector. It looked fine to me but I did notice some of the lines jumped off the page.

After an interval of about two months, I asked how it came out. “We don’t know yet.” I was told. “We had to send it to the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and they are a little slow.” The last word was that they think you’re some kind of terrorist and you’re on a “no fly” list next to Ted Kennedy.

Being on a “no fly” list didn’t bother me. I did all of the flying I want to do during World War II,

In all seriousness, the doctors we have today, along with our modern technology are responsible for all of us having a lot more birthdays than folks had 50 years ago.

I remember our three doctors in Blanket who in their time were diagnostic geniuses but without our modern medicines and technology, they could do little.

Remember to thank your doctor every chance you get. The odds are, you’re here today because of him, or her, as the case may be.

As Minnie Pearl used to say on the Grand Old Opry, “I’m so glad to be here.”

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at This column is a repeat from one originally published in July 2005.