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Ask Dr. Gott 4/13

Judging the risks, benefits

DEAR DR. GOTT: You have helped so many people, I thought you could answer a question about milk of magnesia. I have been taking it every night for about a year. My doctor recommended it. The reason for taking it is, I had a cardiac cath several years ago. It caused an aneurysm with internal bleeding, then I developed a hernia in the same area and had more surgery. The femoral nerve was damaged, leaving me with chronic pain. I have been going to a pain clinic in the St. Louis area and am on narcotic meds, which cause constipation. I am concerned about taking milk of mag for so long. Please let me know if this is harmful.
    DEAR READER: Your case is far from being ordinary in that you suffer post-operative chronic pain and require narcotics for pain control. Given your situation, I agree with the pain-clinic professionals.
    Taken in the amount recommended, the milk of magnesia is necessary: The benefits outweigh the risks. Continue your current program and follow the advice of your pain doctors.
    To give you related information, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report "Managing Chronic Pain."

    DEAR DR. GOTT: Several weeks ago, I suffered a thoracic aortic aneurysm at my son's home. As I lay there, I called for him. He and his wife came quickly. I told him to call the EMS. The short story is, they kept me alive with CPR. I had surgery and here I am today, alive but still not feeling well. My wife is mad at me because I don't want to see visitors. Do I, at 77 years old, have a right to refuse to see visitors?
    DEAR READER: Without a doubt. Your privacy should be honored, and, if you wish to be left alone — except for family members — you have that privilege.
    Tell your wife to be grateful you're still around and feisty. Once you start feeling well, you will probably encourage visitors, but hold off until your body tells you that you are ready to receive the public.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I'd like to know if you can help me. I need something for constipation, something I don't need to depend on all the time and won't hurt my insides. Right now I put flax seed, oat bran and 100 percent bran on my cereal in the morning. I also drink prune juice and orange juice with my breakfast.
    DEAR READER: The combination you use is an appropriate treatment for chronic constipation. It is safe, effective, cheap and free of side effects. You are right on the mark. As an alternative, you can try my "colon cocktail." It is equal amounts of prune juice, bran and applesauce. It can be used as needed to resolve constipation or, better still, every day to prevent constipation. One or 2 tablespoons is all that is needed.

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