Mary has a boil on her butt. Every other day her doctor makes the five-mile roundtrip trek to her home to change her dressing to no avail - the boil will not heal.
The suspected reasons being was that Mary lives alone in a dirt floor hut without running water or clean linen. Also she is also old, frail and feeble, and seldom leavers her bed - another factor causing the sore to remain inflamed.
I've never met Mary. In fact, I have no idea what her real name is. My guess would be that, whatever her real name, I would have difficulty pronouncing it. So I'll just call her Mary. But I learned of the Mary's plight while skiing with my doctor buddy, Louis. We were climbing up a slope before sunrise when his cell phone rang.
"I better take this." he said, "It might be from Nepal."
Louis stuck his cell phone in his hat, next to his ear, and spoke will he continued to climb. I slowed the pace so he could talk and I could listen. It seems a new doctor who Louis had sponsored through college and med school had returned to his village in Nepal and was treating the sick and injured in the surrounding area.
This doc was at his wits end over Mary's butt-boil and had called the older and more experienced Louis for advice. I couldn't hear exactly what advice was given, but I will say that after the call ended I was told that a boil on your keester can be a serious thing for the elderly and bedridden, sometimes causing infection even death.
I was also cautioned that if I ever get one to seek care. I promised to do just that as long I could write a column about it later.
My point in all this is to recognize the obvious - what an amazing world we live in.
Here I am climbing a mountain in Colorado and listening to a doc - while continuing to ski uphill - consult another doc on the other side of the world about a boil on Mary's bottom.
Now it should be pointed out that the phone call for the Nepalese doctor was not nearly as convenient. He had to walk miles to the nearest and only phone in his area.
Once the call ended we picked up the pace and I had no wind left for conversation. But because thinking doesn't require oxygen, I found myself considering what had just happened and the implications involved.
On one hand, we live in a time and place where we can speak to someone on the on the other side of planet on a device small enough to stuff in a ski hat while not having to break stride. On the other hand, we are speaking to a person in a place where people die from butt-boils.
On one hand, the same diseases and maladies that killed or crippled in our parents' and grandparents' generation, and currently in much of the rest of the world, have largely been overcome by science and medicine. On the other hand, Americans don't seem that happy or grateful. In fact, from my observations, they seem pretty ticked-off.
I'm going to go out on a limb by saying if you are reading this you are lucky. You are ucky to be living in this place, during this time and if you don't have any boils on your dumper, that is just icing on the cake.
I'll also go so far as to say that, as a people, Americans don't seem to appreciate what we have now in comparison to much of the rest of the world and even life in this country as recently as a generation ago.
Rather than be delighted by our good fortune of having everything we need and most of what we want. we are bummed over what we lack and are looking for someone to blame.
So who is we blame? Is it Bush, Obama, Congress, mainstream media, illegal immigrants, bankers, liberals, conservative, Christians, Muslims, Jews - Rush Limbaugh? I say who cares. We live in a place and time of incredible technology and unimaginable possibilities, and the opportunity for a lasting legacy of this country's greatness. And if that is not enough you'll all be happy to know that, so far, my bottom is boil-free.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff's book "Steep, Deep and Dyslexic" is available from local book stores or from www.webersbooks.com