A House Call With Dr. M and Marley

        Years ago I had a favorite old patient who was confined to home. She had several medical problems that were irreversible, at least from a scientific perspective, and she didn’t want to leave home for any of her treatment.  (I can’t tell you the details, but she was correct in this assessment.)

        About  a year before she died she became comatose. I went out to the house, and considered every angle imaginable.  I couldn’t think of thing else to do.  It was lonely. Everyone looked to me for an answer.  I had none.

        Finally I said, “Let’s call Dr. M.  Maybe he can think of something.” Dr. M was one of my heros.  He was smart, but he also was kind, and he cared. He was this patient’s doctor for years, and had called me in when he retired.

        “Doc.  This is Tommy.” I explained the clinical circumstances. “Man, I can’t think of anything else to do.  I need someone with more gray hair than me, brother.”

        He came right out.  Doc looked over the situation for a while, and then sat down in a chair in the den.  Everyone gathered around, me included.  “Folks, he said. “I’ve heard out Dr. B and I’ve checked her out. I agree with him. There is nothing more we can do. We’re just gonna have to pray for a miracle.”

        And that is what we did.

        Two days later, the family called.  “Dr. B we have our miracle.” I hopped in the car and dashed out there.  Sure enough a patient who had been stone cold irreversibly comatose was her old self.

        “Good Lord have mercy Marley, we were worried sick.  How the heck did ya do it?

       She smiled.  “Son, you worry too much.  We’re all gonna meet our maker.  This was just a dress rehearsal so all you children could be ready when the real day comes. I don’t want you to take it hard when I’m gone; you’ve done all you can do.”

        One day it was no dress rehearsal.  There were no more miracles. She passed on. There were tears, but there also was tranquility.  She taught us to be ready. 

        It was fitting these two were patient and doctor together, ’cause they were two of the very best of these parts.

        Dr. M just died.  I cried.  He finally ran out of miracles. I wish I coulda known of some miracle for him. 

        He and Marley taught me so much. From them I learned we should do our best, but have tranquility, ’cause it truth it is all in God’s hands. 

        Still though I gotta admit the human in me wishes I was powerful enough to know of one more miracle for Dr. M, and Marley too.  I guess God decided it was time for them to rest and all I can do is accept it.

         Maybe my miracle for the day is that Dr. M and Marley taught me to understand all that. I’ll miss ‘em both, but I’ll never forget their lessons.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “A House Call With Dr. M and Marley”


  1. Oh Dr. B,

    That is a lovely lovely story. I got chills reading it. I read somewhere that the closer we are to death the more spiritual become. As the Italian’s would say PER FORZA, meaning, you have to be! :), by force.

    Thanks for keeping prayer alive, being a real person with emotions, not afraid to write about them. I know many people find solice in words.

    God bless you Dr. B and keep up the good work.

    Julie

    • drtombibey Says:

      Julie,

      The best posts are the ones that are 100% true, but just with the names changed and the clinical circumstances obscured to protect privacy. This is one of those.

      Thank you for reading my work. Keep up your fine blog. We are all in this art world together.

      Dr. B


  2. That is beautiful, Dr. B. Heartfelt and moving and most of all, ringing absolutely true. Your patient sounds like she was pretty amazing, and her doctor as well. Miracles happen every day – when a flower comes into bloom, when a child suddenly learns how to say his first word, when someone creates great art. But sooner or later, like you said, we run out of miracles. It’s a hard thing to accept, and forever will be.

    • drtombibey Says:

      slightly,

      She was one of my all-time favorites, and perhaps the single most inspiring human being I ever met. She inspired the character Mason Marley in “The Mandolin Case.” In fact, she gave me a lot of ideas and helped me create that character in the early days.

      I worried about patient confidentiality and privacy, but she always said, “Dr. B, I hope you tell the whole world about me.”

      Dr. B

  3. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Dr. B – I thought you were going a different direction, but I’ll put in my early response anyway. Oliver Sachs writes about the power of music to reach deeply into the consciousness of even comatose patients. He tells about instances where folks with Alzheimer’s or other kinds of dementia respond to music by singing, or even responding in a singing voice. Very interesting stuff.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ted,

      Sure enough even though she was comatose by any standard, a fact confirmed by two good docs, it seems she took in all the events anyway. It is interesting.

      Dr. B


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