As an emergency room doctor who’s no stranger to crisis – and, as a result, the media -- I’m frequently asked to weigh in on news while it’s still developing, before anyone has any answers, much less all of them.
To that end, I’ve now been asked several times: What's up with Prince?
The fact is: We don't know. Everything you read online or hear on TV is speculation, until the final autopsy results -- real observational science -- are back in a couple of weeks.
So what does this mean to UCLA's patients -- why do we care?
Because it makes us feel bad.
In this country, and especially Los Angeles, we love our celebrities -- Prince, David Bowie, Elvis -- and when they’re suddenly gone, we don't just feel a sense of loss but also personal jeopardy. We lose the joy of their music along with a little bit of our swagger. We age, and we HATE to age.
Our feeling of ownership of our favorite actor, band or writer suddenly tags us with our own mortality: struggles with health, growing older, navigating a complicated health system and the scary path into the uncertain future.
As Prince sang in "Let's Go Crazy,"
"We're all excited
But we don't know why
Maybe it's 'cause
We're all gonna die."
My advice? Turn off the internet and TV (or at least give Prince the friend's gift of ignoring the pornography of speculation about the man's death).
Feel free to celebrate his music, his creativity and the apparent joy he tried to focus on in his life and work.
But for you, as a patient, friend and neighbor, boil down anxiety into a few simple, easy steps that are “low-hanging fruit.” These steps will pay real science-based health benefits, while having some fun on the way.
Don't take drugs or get surgery unless you absolutely have to.
Then, take a few more minutes to let the people and animals you care about know that you are here and then spend a few more minutes connecting with them in some way.
"If you don't like the world you're living in, take a look around you at least you got friends," Prince wrote in his hit "Let's Go Crazy."
Take a breath, go a step at a time and take Prince's good and simple advice.
Mark Morocco, M.D.
Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Medicine/Emergency Medicine
UCLA Emergency Medical Center
Past President, UCLA Medical Alumni Association