Husband and wife doctors publish new books

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Sitting at the computer, his chin lifted and head tilted slightly backward as he peers at the screen through his glasses, the office manager concentrates on his work, oblivious to what misery lies ahead for him &045; &uot;bifocal neck&uot; is what Dr. Michael &uot;Mike&uot; Wilson, orthopedic surgeon, calls it in his book &uot;The Other Midlife Crisis: Arthritis and All Those Aches and Pains.&uot;

&uot;One unique syndrome that is purely a midlife phenomenon is what I call ‘bifocal neck,’&uot; Wilson writes in the 314-page soft-cover book that carries the reader easily page to page with its informal, sometimes humorous and always readable text about aches and pains common to the now aging baby boomer set.

Wilson and his wife, Dr. Kathleen &uot;Kathy&uot; Wilson, an internist, both busy practicing physicians at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans, were sitting in a restaurant when she began talking about middle-aged people, Mike said. &uot;She began talking about the busy lives of middle-aged people and how they neglect themselves.&uot; With careers, children, aging parents and other distractions, the 35 and older set could benefit from some plain, sound advice about how to take care of themselves, they decided.

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The two doctors, who met at medical school at the University of Iowa in 1971 and have practiced more than 25 years each, decided to write a book. Soon, however, it became evident to Mike Wilson that orthopedics should be a separate book.

Kathy decided to target the busy, middle-aged man, writing a book directed at his wife. The result, &uot;Your Husband’s Health, Simplify Your Worry List,&uot; identifies the most important steps to help prevent the most devastating diseases, including heart disease.

The husband and wife will be in Natchez Saturday to sign their books at Cover to Cover Books & More from 1 to 3 p.m.

Kathy said the decision to write books &045; and she has two more in the works, one titled &uot;Maintain Your Brain: Preventing Stroke and Dementia,&uot; due out in the fall &045; was based on a hope that she and her husband could take their knowledge and experience to more people, beyond the thousands of patients they see each year.

&uot;If people understand about their own condition, they will take better care of themselves,&uot; she said. &uot;A lot of doctors have read my books and like it. Doctors appreciate educated patients.&uot;

She pointed out, however, that doctors often encounter patients whose research comes from the Internet. &uot;So many patients today get information from the Internet, and that information often is designed to sell things and a lot of it is inaccurate.&uot;

Mike, who describes himself as a conservative surgeon, said feedback he has gotten from physicians who have read his book has been good, also.

In both their books, the doctors caution patients that every person has a unique situation. But, in each book, there is one section the authors recommend as perhaps most important for readers.

&uot;In my book, it would be to read the chapter on what osteoarthritis

is,&uot; Mike said. Many people have a misunderstanding of the disease. He writes in the book, &uot;I’ve probably spent more time in my career explaining what osteoarthritis is, and what it isn’t, than in any other conversation I have with my patients.&uot;

A common response from a patient who has been told he has arthritis: &uot;What do you mean it’s just arthritis, doctor? How could that be? I’m in such pain!&uot;

&uot;Arthritis is the end result of anything that causes a joint to fail,&uot; Mike said. &uot;It’s not just one disease.&uot;

On one level, &uot;The Other Midlife Crisis&uot; is a philosophical book, explaining what does and doesn’t work on arthritis, Mike said. &uot;And on another level, it is somewhat encyclopedic.&uot; Indeed, the book delves into problems joint by joint, such as the &uot;bifocal neck,&uot; for one; and including symptoms of the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, spine, hip, knee, foot and ankle.

Kathy Wilson points the reader to the chapter on cholesterol as perhaps the most crucial one in &uot;Your Husband’ Health.&uot; She titles the chapter, &uot;Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Deadly.&uot; Learning about the good and the bad and what levels to strive to reach can be vital to protecting against heart disease.

Both doctors went on to the Mayo Clinic from Iowa for training in their specialties and look upon those years in Rochester, Minn., as important in shaping their careers in years to come.

Kathy writes in her book that wives often have difficulty getting their husbands to the doctor. &uot;If he does go, he is likely to say he has nothing wrong,&uot; she said. &uot;If he does have something wrong, he may not know it. That is why I am asking you to learn what you really need to know about keeping him healthy.&uot;

And that is why she and her husband are writing books. &uot;With the books, we realized we could give beyond what we’re doing,&uot; Kathy said.