Seaweed, anyone?

Chomping hard on the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing has proven a useful skill over the years. Especially the day Mrs. T. came for her office visit: "Hello, Mrs. T. How are you today?"

"I just finished my seaweed wrap so I feel great."

"Seaweed wrap?" I asked, cocking a brow.

"Yes, they're marvelous. You should try one."

"What restaurant serves seaweed wraps?" I'd make a point never to eat there.

She laughed. "It's not something you eat, it's a spa treatment. They wrap you from the neck down in seaweed and then sit you in the steam room for an hour so your pores can absorb all the nutrition of the seaweed."

(This was when my cheek chomping skill came in handy. The mental picture of an eighty-year old wrapped like a mummy  in green seaweed tickled my unwrapped funny bone.) I envisioned asking the spa employee what she did for a living. "Oh, I wrap old ladies in seaweed all day." Now there's a career path my kids should consider. . .

I managed to contain myself enough to ask, "How much do they charge for these treatments?"

"One-hundred and fifty dollars," she said without missing a beat.

She then wanted me to write an order for these "medically necessary treatments" on my prescription pad so she could write them off on her taxes! "It's a wonderful source of Iodine," she insisted.

I told her I'd have to investigate if seaweed wraps were deemed a legal tax deduction. I also made a mental note to investigate the price of seaweed. How was it this "seaweed spa" made more from one  seaweed wrap than I got from Medicare for performing and documenting a Comprehensive History and Physical exam?  I was clearly in the wrong business. Maybe my time would be better spent scavenging the beaches of Destin for seaweed. Maybe I should install a steam room in my office. Patients could get their blood drawn, their EKG, their annual physical, and their. . . seaweed wrap???

Sally Burbank M.D.