Doris was joining us for tea in the garden.
We positioned the table and chairs where a late-afternoon patch of sunlight hits the lawn so that our 90-year-old guest would be warm in the early-autumn air.
Comfortably settled with a china teacup in hand, pastries in a basket atop starched linens, and a woolen lap blanket covering her knees, she took a sip and offered her view on how young people should conserve money.
“They shouldn’t smoke or go out to drink so much in bars,” said the woman who spent her girlhood in an orphanage and her late years wearing a mink and being driven around town in her late husband’s Lincoln. If she knew the going price of a latte, she might have nixed that, as well.
She was talking personal economics, but her advice applies to health. The national medical-insurance debate aside, on a basic level, the very things that are affordable are also good for you. Eating home-cooked food prepared with unprocessed ingredients and minimizing vices can keep your wallet fat and your waistline slim.
Most doctors will tell you the same, starting with the No. 1 health-threatening habit: cigarettes.
Of course, lots of people play by the rules and still the arrow on the wheel of misfortune points their way. When illness demands more than aerobic exercise, fish, olive oil, and blueberries, we need someone who knows how to remove the bad stuff, ease aching parts, and alter haywire chemistry.
In this, our 10th annual Top Docs issue, we name 836 local physicians deemed by their colleagues as tops in their field. Consider the list a starting point in the search for prevention and remedy, a guide to who may help us feel better, look “normal,” erase pain, live to bring up a family, or simply live a little longer.
We also include the personal medical stories of three people — how they learned of their conditions, reacted to the news, and approached treatment.
As their words hint, the experiences altered their outlook. If we’re lucky, and doctors are able to cure our ailments or buy us time, we see life through changed eyes.
We also realize that our elders, who’ve experienced physical and financial hardship, know a bit about survival. Embracing simple pleasures is part of what they’ll tell you.
Curve balls find us anyway, of course. And so it doesn’t hurt to eat, drink (moderately), and be merry.
On that score, this issue offers ideas for active travel — because it’s good to be physical — and a suggestion for soul-soothing sustenance. For that, read our review of La Dolce Vita. Translation: the sweet life.