Mind Over Miller: My precious metal investment

Mar 01, 2012

Robert M. Miller, DVM
Because of the economic recession and the instability of the economy, many people are investing in gold. Not me! I'm buying titanium.

So far I have one titanium hip, a titanium knee, four titanium screws in my right ankle, and a titanium plate in my lumbar spine.

I prefer titanium to gold. Gold is quite heavy, whereas titanium is light. If I had gold in all those body parts instead of titanium, I would weigh much more. Then I would have to limit my calorie consumption. As it is, I can eat anything I want and still remain relatively lean.

Admittedly, airport security is a problem. I set off all the alarms. I usually explain to the security personnel that my left elbow does not have any metal in it, but so far, this quip does has not produced a smile. Instead, they say, "Wait here please"—as if I had a choice.

I also have plastic lenses in both eyes, but there is little long-term prospect for hoarding plastic. Thus far, there have been only minor increases in the price of titanium, but I am confident that its value will go up. If not, I can always replace the replacements with gold, even though that would make me feel ostentatious. It would embarrass me to tell people that I have several gold joint replacements.

Procuring all of this titanium, a rare metal, may give the impression that I have a lot of pecuniary foresight. But I have to be honest. My lifetime included gymnastics, a lot of skiing, riding horses—including starting wild colts—some mountain climbing, and rodeo competition. All of this probably contributed to a lot of eventual skeletal destruction and resultant acquisition of titanium, but that wasn't what motivated me to do all those things. I simply did them because I enjoyed them.

Well, maybe subconsciously I reasoned, "If I do these things, perhaps someday I'll acquire a substantiated hoard of valuable metal."

Truthfully, I spent a lot of money in those activities, especially skiing. I suppose that if I had started collecting titanium earlier, when the price was lower, I'd be in better shape financially now, but it just didn't occur to me to do so.

I started thinking about all of this because I was at the dentist the other day, and he said, "Wow! You have remarkable teeth for your age. Except for those two gold inlays, your mouth is perfect!"

So I asked him if he ever uses titanium inlays. He said, "No! Why do you ask?"

I pretended not to hear him. He could see that I wasn't wearing my hearing aids, so he didn't repeat the question.

Interestingly, all this titanium is the result of nonprofessional activities. Being a veterinarian for over half a century has not increased the amount of valuable metal I own. Oh, of course, I experienced injuries caused by my patients. You can't work in a mixed-animal practice, including a lot of zoo animals, without experiencing an occasional injury. I even got sprayed by a skunk I was descenting, but that sort of thing isn't solved with titanium.

Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his website at http://robertmmiller.com/.