One Old Sage

Thoughts, Stories, and Bits of Wisdom

In the words of Bugs Bunny…”Ehh, What’s Up Doc?”

After I finish my little walk down memory lane, I’ll explain why I picked this particular title. If you are like me, shall we say of a certain age, you’ll remember sitting in front of the TV on a Saturday morning and watching a couple of hours of cartoons or being able to see the “Bugs Bunny and Road Runner Hour” on a Saturday afternoon. Even into my 20’s I looked forward to that hour of sitting back and laughing at the antics of Bugs, Sylvester, the Road Runner, Wile E Coyote, Elmer Fudd and probably my favourite of them all, Yosemite Sam. “Whoa mule whoa!” You should look up this cartoon. It’s one of the best.

Yosemite Sam

Yosemite Sam

Bugs’ line of, “Ehh, what’s up Doc?”, was usually delivered to an unsuspecting Elmer in such a way that it was sarcastic and funny at the same time.

Going to the movies was fun. You knew the program; shorts, coming attractions, a cartoon, and then the feature attraction. When the cartoon started,whether you were six or sixty, you knew you were in for a few laughs . If you didn’t laugh, you must have some serious issues going on.

Now that I’ve waxed nostalgic, let’s talk about that phrase “Ehh, what’s up Doc?”

I’m wondering if or when you last asked your Doctor how he/she was doing? “How are you?”  “How are the kids?” “I heard you’ve been on vacation, how was the trip?”

I believe we have a tendency to forget that our doctors are also people like us who have the same ills, mental health issues, family crises, and life altering events we do. We go into the examining room, await their arrival, tell them our ills, get their diagnosis and head out the door. Sometimes, or maybe all the time, we forget to say “Thank you.”

Perhaps I’ve been fortunate but I’ve always had a good relationship with my family doctors. We’ve never gone out for lunch, been invited to each others home, or even shared a coffee, but I still got to know them.

I don’t say, “What’s up Doc?” but I do ask how they are doing. It’s amazing what this simple question can elicit. I’ve been told how proud they are of their children, if they are going away, what new information they may have gleaned at a seminar, the fact that a family member may have been quite ill (I try to remember to ask how that person is on my next visit), or in one case, my doctor used me as his “Father Confessor”.

In the last case, I’d been going to him for over 15 years. His wife was the nurse/receptionist. I often saw her at the gym we both attended. She would be in the aerobics class and I’d be in the weight room. I noticed her visits to the gym became less and less frequent. When I went for one of my appointments, he had a new receptionist/nurse. I knew him well and when I saw him that day, I knew something was wrong. So I simply asked, “Are you OK?” His eyes filled with tears and he told me his wife had left him for the aerobics instructor.

My doctor had waited a long time to get married. He was in his forties, he wanted the right life mate, he wanted children, and he wanted to have few debts so he could provide well for his family. His dream of a life mate was shattered. He told me simply because I asked if he was OK.

I know doctors are supposed to have a detached persona. It’s a coping mechanism to help deal with what they handle on a daily basis. There are some doctors in certain specialties who have taken this detachment to the extreme and if I may be so bold as to say, come across with the personality of a wharf rat. Asking them how they’re doing may be risky but hey, nothing ventured nothing gained.

I follow a few doctors on WordPress and if you read their blogs regularly, you will find they are just like us. This past weekend, Dr. Attai, a breast surgeon,  ( eloquently posts about her grief in losing a dear friend and colleague. Her pain is palpable.

Dr. John McHugh, a urologist, blogs about his personal journey on dealing with prostate cancer. He spares no punches on how it affected him. (

Dr. Greg Smith, a psychiatrist, talks about dealing with his patients, lessons he learns from them and his colleagues and makes it clear that he is affected by what happens around him. (

These three physicians, in three separate and disparate fields, bring a sense of humanity to who they really are.

So in closing, the next time you see your family doctor or a doctor you have come to know, say “Ehh, what’s up doc?” You might even get an answer and a “Thank you for asking.”

30 comments on “In the words of Bugs Bunny…”Ehh, What’s Up Doc?”

  1. Eli Pacheco
    February 25, 2014

    Excellent work here, friend. When my dad’s final days came at Duke Hospital, all the docs who worked with him stopped by to pay respects and offer condolences. All felt so heartfelt, and so many spoke of a higher power at work. It was humbling to see them so saddened that my dad wasn’t going to make it. It showed me not only their humanity, but the human element of how difficult it must really be to be a doctor.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      February 26, 2014

      Nice to see you Eli. Thanks for the comments. When my 22 year old niece died from Cystic Fibrosis her Pulmonary Specialist who had know her for 19 years closed himself in her room and cried by himself for an hour one of the nurses told my brother. We must never forget they are human like us. Take care and keep up the good work on your blog.

      • Eli Pacheco
        February 26, 2014

        Thanks amigo – you too. It’s always good to read your words.

  2. Blake Wickland
    January 29, 2014

    Another excellent read Uncle Nelson!

  3. scottishmomus
    January 25, 2014

    My favourite doctor I’ve had since he started in our practice more than thirty years ago. I know something of his wife and children but it has been some time since I asked how they were all doing. I will surely make a point of it next time I am there. Thanks for the reminder. We do forget they are only human.x

    And Bugs Bunny is my favourite of all cartoon characters. :)

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      January 25, 2014

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I’m pleased that you enjoyed the post. Now sit down and enjoy that “Wascly Wabbit!” :)

  4. Carolyn Frayn
    January 25, 2014

    Wonderful writing Nelson… I’ve been very lucky to have amazing doctors through my life. My oldest family doctor did go to parties with us, our current family doctor talks about his kids with pride. I enjoyed it when my first oncologist would take a load off after my exam, and tell me about her latest cool thing… my current oncologist holds my hands, never fails to smile with me… I hope I never forget to ask how he is doing.

    Thanks for the memories. Our doctors, being human… and Bugs… We used to watch Bug’s Bunny and the Roadrunner with Dad. He laughed the hardest. :) Hugs!!

  5. Jane Turnbull Setka
    January 25, 2014

    Another good thought Nelson. If we all treated the people in our day with dignity, respect, kindness and grace I think we would all benefit. I think this might be one of those learned things not everyone figures out!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      January 25, 2014

      Thank you for your thoughts. We do have a challenge these days remembering that everyone deserves respect. I appreciate you dropping by and reading my post.

  6. Lynette d'Arty-Cross
    January 23, 2014

    Thanks for a good reminder. :) I, too, have been going to the same doctor for many years – at one point he became depressed and we had several talks about it. We have to remember to be kind to and thoughtful of those who care for us.

    I loved those cartoons too! :) One thing I wanted, though, was for the coyote to catch the roadrunner for once, just once! :)

  7. arkansasrose
    January 23, 2014

    I think it’s odd when a Doctoro asks me “How are you?” … I wouldn’t be in his office if I were well, I digress.. I have always asked Doctors “How are you?” All I’ve ever gotten is a “I’m good” and then on with the exam, so I quit asking.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      January 23, 2014

      I think that is pretty much a standard response. Heaven forbid if we should get too close to our patients.

  8. ramblingsfromamum
    January 22, 2014

    Reblogged this on Ramblings From A Mum and commented:
    I am going to do a few Re-blogs on posts from those that I follow.
    Nelson is a lovely gentleman – please pop over and pay him a visit. I am sure you will like what you see.

  9. ramblingsfromamum
    January 22, 2014

    You have changed the style of your blog it seems? Or perhaps the entry point?
    What another interesting post. I always thank them, but never have I asked them how they are. I attend a Clinic and do not have a regular GP, so it makes the getting to know on a one on one basis a little more difficult. I can imagine it would be a tough world they live in (money aside) they must deal with everything from sniffly noses to the more severe ailments.
    I shall ask next time I’m in – at least whilst lying on the table having a Pap test, it will cover the embarrassment!

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      January 22, 2014

      Thanks for dropping by. What do you mean about changing the entry point? That is a little concerning.

      • ramblingsfromamum
        January 22, 2014

        Just when I clicked on the link off the email a full page of all your different posts came up – it didn’t direct me to the post you had just written and I had to look for it. Hasn’t happened before, maybe just a gliche on my side, or I haven’t really noticed it before?

  10. DrAttai
    January 22, 2014

    Thank you, Nelson for this post! I agree that many doctors do not feel comfortable sharing – when a patient comes into the office, it’s about them and their issues. But we are human. Many times a response of “fine, thanks for asking” is the most appropriate. However there are times, especially with certain patients with whom there is a long-standing relationship, that it is appropriate to go into more detail. And I am so thankful that I have that type of relationship with some of my patients.

    • Nelson - One Old Sage
      January 22, 2014

      Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and commenting. I appreciate it.

  11. Diane Henders
    January 22, 2014

    A good thought, Nelson! I usually ask, too. Most doctors don’t feel comfortable sharing anything but “Fine, thanks for asking”, but they do seem to appreciate the question.

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© Nelson Armstrong, and Old Sage Publishing Co., 2012-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nelson Armstrong, and Old Sage Publishing Co. with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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