You have to be so careful when talking to patients these days. They may just believe what you say but, had they met you in college, they would know better. Remember when you told your friend, Rich, that you knew how to surf? OK, maybe that was just me and it was last month and maybe it was that I know karate but, well, you get the drift.

The point is that you should do what my dad told me from the time I was born: watch your mouth!

The problem is, it’s quite difficult to actually watch your mouth. Just try it right now. You’ll see.

One time, to make a point about how stupid this patient was being by taking such poor care of her contact lenses, I told her there were “seven bodily fluids that are safer to use as contact lens solution than saliva.”

She made me name them. It was like she was planning to make an informed decision about which particular bodily fluid she would start using instead of her spit. As you can imagine, I found myself quickly running out of bodily fluids I could actually name. By the end, I think I listed “crosius,” “leotine” and the ever-important, life-enhancing “gawasch,” which I defined as the substance that makes mucous eventually turn into boogers.

Trust me, save yourself the pain and watch your mouth. I wish I had listened to my dad. We have to listen to my dad, y’all!

It’s OK to just keep your mouth shut when you don’t know. You don’t know why the patient’s second cousin went blind for two weeks and then never needed glasses again. If you did, in fact, know this, you would patent it, open a clinic, offer the procedure and put all of your colleagues out of business. And just the fact that you are, right this second, considering how rich and famous you would be if this came to pass shows you really don’t give a hoot about your colleagues in the first place. Let ‘em eat cake!

But back to my point. Watch your mouth! It gets you in trouble. Don’t promise Mrs. Quiver that she will absolutely love her first pair of PALs at age 78. She might be OK, or she might just want her good ol’ ST-28s set at 3 below like she has happily worn since Elvis was on Ed Sullivan. (Oh, this reminds me. Rich, I actually never met Elvis in the Philadelphia airport baggage claim. That autograph on my Ramones T-shirt is a complete forgery. I should’ve watched my mouth that time too.)

Now, sometimes it’s OK to take your eyes off your mouth for a moment when it’s in the name of being a healer. As you may know, my career has taken a few turns in Texas, but I am so very happy working with a sparkling crew of colleagues a couple days each week providing extremely important care in nursing homes all over the Dallas metroplex. Once, we needed to evaluate a lady who was bedridden, had terminal cancer and who kept her eyes clamped shut. I could tell she was a fighter because two strong men could not pry this lady’s eyes open with a crowbar. My assistant said it was OK—I would never be able to check her eyes. I leaned in close to the patient’s ear and quietly said this: “I’ll bet everyone you ever met said something about your beautiful blue eyes.”

It was a good guess because she instantly popped her tired eyes open, and I was glad I didn’t watch my mouth that time. Those eyes were indeed blue and beautiful. Every now and then, when you do open your mouth, something righteous might jump out.

But most of the time, watch your mouth