Dear Dr. Roach: In one of Dr. Donohue’s columns years ago, he wrote about pain in the rectum that he said was caused by “trapped gas” (as well as I can recall), and he recommended sitting on a baseball (or some kind of ball) for a bit and that would relieve it. It worked! I have been using that method for years now, and wish I had thanked him for that advice! I actually keep a baseball handy just in case I need it!

Now my son, 39, has complained of rectal pain, and though I’m aware there can be many causes, I’d like for him to try this “magic treatment” before he gets any more worried.

He is going to try to see a doctor, and I can just imagine that this simple solution will not even be known and that the doctor immediately will recommend a battery of tests. Maybe they will be necessary; I don’t know, but I would like him to try this first. My son appears not to take my suggestion seriously, so I was wondering if you’ve ever heard of this or if there is any way to find Dr. D’s column in which he addresses this issue.


Dear R.A.: Sadly, I must lack some of Dr. Donohue’s wisdom, experience or expertise, since I don’t know what he was getting at. I am pretty good at finding old columns, but I couldn’t find the one you are referring to. If any of Dr. Donohue’s faithful readers has the column or remembers it, write me and I will write a follow-up.

If your son came to me with his complaint, I would start by taking a complete history and doing an exam and perhaps an anoscopy, done in the office — not a whole battery of tests.

Dear Dr. Roach: When I bought fresh plums yesterday, I was reminded of your column about “white stuff” on fresh fruit, the white stuff being mold. Very fresh blueberries, grapes, plums and certain other fresh fruit have what is called a “bloom” when picked. The bloom goes away the older the fruit is. Bloom is pretty uniform; mold is not. Bloom on fresh fruit is a very good sign. Other than your lack of farming skills, I really like your column.


Dear C.K.: I didn’t know that the waxy material on some fresh fruits is called “bloom,” but I have seen that phenomenon at local farmer’s markets. However, I know from living in big cities that moldy blueberries are a fact of urban life. Fresh fruit might not get to the grocer for days or weeks, and can sit there for who knows how long until they become, frankly, moldy. (I also got the help of a professional mycologist from Michigan State University, who helped me identify the mold, described as one that is not harmful). Despite my lack of farming skills, I’m sure we can agree it is better to have bloom on your berries than mold.

Dear Dr. Roach: I took an aspirin for a seeming heart attack and went to the hospital, where I was asked if I had taken any meds. I answered “no,” and was medicated; the result was panic for the doctors, as my heart rate slowed to a dangerous rate. With care and an extra day in the hospital, I was released. My ignorance about medicines was scary. I think that it should be emphasized that “meds” does not mean only prescriptions. Tell the doctor, “I took an aspirin!”


Dear R.G.: Indeed, your doctors should know about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter, vitamins and other supplements. Sometimes women forget to mention their oral contraceptives.

Aspirin is a powerful medicine, not to be taken lightly. That being said, I am not sure why your heart rate slowed to a dangerous rate. Beta blockers usually are given for suspected heart attack, and some people do have dramatic responses to beta blockers, and their heart rates slow way down. I can’t explain why aspirin could have made that more likely, since aspirin shouldn’t slow down the heart rate. I also couldn’t find any interaction between beta blockers and aspirin.

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