Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Schatzki, Schlotzsky - they all sound the same to me

A few days ago, I learned that I may have a body part that I was not aware of previously. That statement may sound a little strange, so I’ll give you a little background information:

One of our managers used to work as the General Sales Manager for a very successful Cadillac dealership in downtown Chicago. Since he’s just a regular joe, I’ll call him Joe to protect his identity.

The company had been in business for more than 50 years by the time he went to work there, and was still family owned and operated. Like many successful businessmen, the owner was a man who wanted results – NOW!!

In her book, The Self Made Man, Nora Vincent would describe that kind of a dealership (and many sales organizations) as a “Red Bull” type of work environment.

Often, when Joe received a phone call from the owner, he found that he would have difficulty breathing afterwards.

After a few too many uncomfortable episodes like that, Joe finally decided to see his doctor in order to determine what the problem was.

What he learned is that most people have what is called a Schatzki ring in their esophagus. MOST of the time, it doesn’t cause any problem. A bad diet, or a stressful working environment, however, can wreak havoc on the ring. In Joe’s case, he had developed DOZENS of them, so it’s a miracle that he is still alive.

Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoon, had similar symptoms, but his were caused by a disease known as Spasmodic Dysphonia. Not only did the disease make if more difficult for him to breathe, it made it almost impossible for him to talk. You also may be interested to know the Katharine Hepburn, unquestionably the GREATEST American actress, was also afflicted by the disease.

Joe’s problem was cured by medication, and Scott’s by surgery, but all of us will have temporary irritable throat problems from time to time, and it’s usually caused by caffeine (either coffee or soda). On occasion, though, stressful work and personal situations can take their toll as well.

There are TWO methods that can provide TEMPORARY relief caused by stress.

One is the “Heineken Maneuver” (not to be confused with the Heimlich Maneuver). In its simplest form, it amounts to simply having a beer (or two) when you get home from work.

A variation of the “Heineken Maneuver” is the “Schott and a beer”, particularly if you have some German ancestors.

One of our former managers was a type A personality who would frequently be eating, talking on the phone, and working a deal – all at the same time.

A few months ago, he was eating a chicken sandwich at his desk, and somehow managed to get a large chunk of chicken stuck in his throat, which cut off his air supply. Somebody called the paramedics, the chunk was eventually dislodged, and he survived to see another day (after he had a cigarette to unwind), but his experience highlights another important lesson:

If you don’t want to choke your chicken at work, or do the death dance with your deli sandwich, slow down.

And relax.

And speaking of eating ..

There’s an old saying that you are what you eat.

When I was in China, I actually saw donkey, bamboo rat, and snake on menus.I avoided all of them, but I WILL admit to the fact that there HAVE been times in my life when I’ve made an ass out of myself.

This week in Oakland, California, there are LOTS of folks eating “Rocky Mountain oysters” at the Testicle Festival

I’m not sure WHY you’d want to do that, but I DO know this:

I live a block away from one of the group homes in Evanston, and I work about two blocks down the street from the other one, so it’s safe to say that we already have enough nuts in this town.

If you happen to be in a high stress work environment, and your bosses seem to feel that working long hours under constant pressure can easily be handled, all I can say is this:

I found that a little hard to swallow.


  1. I was diagnosed with a "ring" also but didn't know it involved breathing problems.
    Maybe that explains why I sometimes have a hard time running lately - when I'm under stress.
    Thanks for the tip. I'll "Google" it.

  2. im going to use that ~
    great post

  3. By now, you probably have plane tickets to Havana to get your cigars direct. You can get the same quality in Key West.

  4. Dave:

    Although I'm now down to smoking 2 or 3 cigars a year, I used to order boxes from the Thompson Cigar Company in Tampa.

    I smoked a few authentic Cubans when I was in China, and in Ireland.

    They were OK, but not spectacular.

    Since the seeds for the cigars grown in other areas of the Caribbean started out as Cuban seeds, there is virtually no difference anymore. The article below provides little more information: