Two for the Show

by John Delach

One: Adrift in a Sea of Doctors


There is little question that modern medicine allows us, the aging of America, to live longer and live better. This includes new wonder drugs, better procedures, more thorough examinations and those machines that lead to more accurate diagnosis.


The bad news is those same machines have incentivized doctors to rely on them not only for their results but also for the added revenue they generate from Medicare. Not only does each test generate a separate charge, the results open the door for more and more tests and prescriptions. This is especially true for those of us on Medicare. The Feds created Medicare and, like any government program, it is subject to stringent rules and regulations. Uncle guarantees payment but only so much. Uncle never pays doctors or hospitals what they want but enough to make tests profitable. Therefore, more tests equal more profits.


Once we enter into the system, we are off and running going from one test to another. Last spring / summer, my medical adventures centered around my prostate. This year doctor’s concerns were aimed a bit further north covering cardio and pulmonary issues. Along the way I was introduced to a bevy of machines and examinations some more than once. I have had PSAs, 4Ks, MRIs, Ultra Sounds, Cardiograms, Echo Cardiograms regular and nuclear stress tests, MRIs, CTEs and more blood tests than an Olympic Athlete.


Now I have been told I need a controlled overnight test for sleep apnea. WTF! This is so far off the mark that enough is enough. Senor y senora doctors, no mas!


Two: Living on a Glacier’s Edge


Granted, this happened 2.6 million years ago but I finally gained insight into the last great ice age. Thanks to the Science Times Section of The New York Times I now understand how the topography of Long Island was formed by the Laurentide Ice Sheet, the last great glacier to cover North America. I grew up in Ridgewood, Queens a rather hilly neighborhood. The good Dominican Nuns at St. Aloysius grammar school insisted we lived on a coastal plain. But we knew differently. All we had to do was look around to see this assertion was nonsense. However, nuns being nuns, we had little choice but to accept their version of the truth or face their draconian reaction to our perceived insuborbination.


William J. Broad’s piece finally explained this incongruity. “Much of North America once lay under a thick sheet of ice. Its final retreat left the city with a singular geological legacy. The ridge of rubble deposited by…the glacier shaped the later development of New York City. The Laurentide ice sheet ended in a sheer cliff across… (the city.) The ridge, called a terminal moraine, is visible today as a band of hills, parks, golf clubs and cemeteries across these boroughs.”


By Jove, it appears the ice sheet did almost as much to affect Long Island as Robert Moses!


One of the places we visited when I was a kid was Highland Park. I marveled that the southern end of the park ended with a rather large cliff. Sometime in my youth an adult pointed out that this cliff was formed by the ice age an explanation I accepted that without further details. Now I have those details thanks to Mr. Bond.


Ridgewood is not alone. This is a list of the communities the terminal moraine passes through beginning with Staten Island: Richmond Valley, Arden Heights, Lighthouse Hill, Dongan Hills and Clifton. The ridge crossed The Narrows until this defacto dam was destroyed in a great flood by water cascading down the Hudson Valley. The ridge enters Brooklyn at Bay Ridge, heads north east through Sunset Park, Green-wood Cemetery, Park Slope and Crown Heights.


From there it turns east and crosses into Queens at Cypress Hills. Today the Jackie Robinson Parkway travels along the terminal moraine and through the Cemetery of the Evergreens, Highland Park, Cypress Hills Cemetery, Forest Park and it’s golf course. The route continues through Ridgewood, Glendale, Richmond Hills, Forest Hills and Kew Garden Hills. Further east, the ridge passes through Jamaica Hills, Hillcrest and Hollis Hills before passing into Nassau.


Eventually, it formed the cliffs at Montauk Point.


“The ice over Manhattan would have buried even the tallest skyscraper and was so heavy that it depressed the underlying bedrock. As it melted, giant boulders embedded deep within its flanks landed throughout what became the city. Many are still visible in Central Park, unlikely obelisks scored by time…the hilly ridge around NYC tends to be quite prominent. Its maximum height is roughly 200 feet, about that of a tall apartment building.”


All the land south of the terminal moraine was formed by the outwash of sand and sediment carried by thousands of streams from the melting ice. This outwash created the great Hempstead Plaines the home of potato farms, early aviation and multiple post World War II subdivisions. “Without this sediment most of Long Island would be under water.”


Bottom line: Those Dominicans were correct after all but with one big asterisk.