A Patient I am In Awe Of

        Ms. Cindy is a new reader to my blog.  Ya’ll need to check hers out- she is on my blogroll.  She tells all kinda good country tales and her ghost stories are extra special.  One day she talked about awe, and it set me to thinking about a patient I stand in awe of.  So today, this post is for Ms. Cindy, and to honor my patient, Brother Herbert.  This is a fiction blog, but the only thing that ain’t real about this post is his name- the rest of it, like him, is too good to be true.

        Herb retired after he worked for the Highway Department for years, and he also has a green thumb.  He is forever bringing me tomatoes and corn out of his garden.  That Silver Queen corn on the cob is the best- roast it up in the husks and slather it with butter and salt- oh well, I’ll check my cholesterol next week.

        One day I saw Herbert and ordered up some fancy tests.  They were needed, but in truth not gonna save his life, and maybe not even impact it too much.  Herb listened to all that and said, “Doc, I really admire you.  Now me, I couldn’t never learn all them doctor books, but I asked the Lord what I could do to help people.  I worked for the Highway Department- worked over there fifteen years and got promoted to the head man- stayed till I retired.  You know Doc, I can’t say all them big words, but I can only do what the Lord wants me to do.  So the whole time I’ve been in charge when I ride around the County and see something wrong I fix it.  If I’m on the way to church on Sunday and see a Stop Sign down, I get out of the car and put it back up.  If someones don’t run it and get killed I reckon I saved a life just as good as if you figured out ’bout their heart attack.”

        I think Herb got it right.  If we do the best at what we are here for, we’ve made our corner a bit better.  It’s like I tell my son the paramedic.  “Son, you’re a fine boy and a great paramedic, and you’re gonna save a lot of lives.  But don’t ever forget, that fellow who puts the chemicals in the drinking water down at the Water Plant is gonna save more lives than me and you put together.”  (I don’t want him to get above his raising.)  I admire those highway guys and the surgeons too.  I loved to read books, and the patients, but those surgeons kept the wrong hours to suit me. 

        I was too lazy to be a good highway man.  I worked there one summer, and all that saved me was my harmonica.  I’d sit in the front seat of the truck and play as we rounded up the workers.  I shoveled  a little asphalt, but it wasn’t long and they’d say, “Play that harp, boy.”  I was most happy to oblige- that was the hardest job I ever had.  By the end of summer, on Friday I’d cash my paycheck and pray for rain just like everyone else.  Made an “A” in Organic Chemistry that fall, too.  Every time I pass a paving crew I think of those boys.  If the traffic is slow, I’ll stick my head out the window and tell them I appreciate the hell our of ’em and I mean it too.  Several of them are my patients to this day.

        After he retired Herb couldn’t sit still and became a greeter at the eye clinic.  When I had my cataract surgery, he found I was on the schedule, and made sure every one knew they were gonna treat me special.

        “That’s my doctor ya’ll, and we’re gonna look after him.”  Dang if he didn’t almost make me want to do the other eye.  (A few years later I did, and he was still there.)  He brought me an oatmeal cookie and coffee after I was awake good, and checked on me every fifteen minutes.  It went fine, but if it hadn’t I assure you he’d gone to get the surgeon himself.

        I had all faith and confidence in my surgeon but my friend’s big baritone voice was some kinda human reassurance I can’t explain.  I guess I figured if a man would take off his Sunday coat on the way to church and put up a Stop Sign that got knocked down, it was the kind of place where they’d do all they could to make it right. 

        My eye surgery went perfect, and I give the Good Lord and the surgeon the credit, but ole Herbert being there didn’t hurt a thing for me.  Any surgeon who’s good enough for a highway man like Herb is good enough for me- them are some hard working rascals.

Dr. B                 

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8 Comments on “A Patient I am In Awe Of”

  1. mrschili Says:

    Posts like this make me happy.

    I make it a point to find out who the “invisible” people are. I know the name of the lady who drives my daughters’ bus, and I think that freaks her out a little bit. She’s not used to parents talking to her, saying good morning and thank you, but the truth is that I hand my babies off to her care every day – she’s got a hard and dangerous job, and she does it well and I’m grateful for her for doing it. This life is a cooperative effort, and EVERYONE, from the bus drivers and asphalt-shovelers to the brain surgeons and rocket scientist, contributes. Everyone should be valued for the work they do, as long as they do it well and respectfully.

  2. drtombibey Says:


    You are 100% right on. I always told my kids to figure out who they were, find what they wanted to do, and be the best they could be, but not fret if they weren’t perfect, ’cause none of us are.

    When I read your blog, I don’t worry too much about the ones who aren’t quick with academics. The ones I worry about are those you try to help and then they look you right in the eye and say they don’t care. Such a waste of potential- you want to shake them.

    Dr. B

  3. Cindy Carter Says:

    My grandmother was a lot like your character. She taught us to remember there are others out there. I always try to respect everyone. I smile and say thank you to those who serve. So often they go by unappreciated. Every person, whether they know it or not, is a child of God. I try my best to treat them that way.

    By the way, not only am I in awe of you for caring, I am humbled by you too. Not only do you care, you appreciate whether than demand or expect. You are a very good man Dr. B. I expect those whose lives you have touched go away better than they arrived.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    You know Ms. Cindy if I’ve done what you said, then I did what I set out to do. I always felt like my gifts were modest, but I cared and I tried.

    Your grandmother done good- I suspect much of what you are is from her influence.

    Dr. B

  5. pandemonic Says:

    I don’t know how you measure “laziness” but being a doctor is no easy task. Your patient had a lot of common sense. I hope you told him. 🙂

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    When it comes time to mow the grass, it gets done, but I do a poor job of it. The whole time I am out there I am thinking about my patients or writing in my head. With physical labor, I have trouble staying on task.

    Medicine is work, but it isn’t in a way. I think I’m gonna get all the way to the finish line and never go to work for a living. The summer jobs I had were enough to convince me being a Doc wasn’t that hard.

    Yeah, me and Herb are still tight, and always will be. It ain’t as bad as foxholes, but folks that get through a few sleepless I.C.U. nights develop a bond.

    Dr. B

  7. amberfireinus Says:

    You know, isn’t that the truth of life? Your friend Herbert realised something that few ever do. Sometimes it is the workers who create the most in our world and keep us all safe.

    I have a friend who is an old Union Electrician. He gets uncomfortable at the thought of being in my life. He feels like he’s “just” an Electrician. One day, I rode in his truck with him and he showed me all of these places he had either help build, or that he rewired, or that he had some funny story about work he did there. Especially beautiful stories about the elderly who would call him out and he wouldn’t end up charging them as he should – just because they were cute and gave him a stale cookie, and talked his ear off because they were lonely.

    I said to my friend, “Do you realise that this stuff will still be standing long after you are gone? That you have provided light and heat to so many, and even though they don’t know who you are, you are someone who matters and is important”. I went on to explain to him that even though I have been successful in my career and made lots of money, I will not have anything left behind of my work that people could point to and say “Amber did that”.

    Even those people who clean the toilets save lives each day. They save us from sickness and infections. They are heros in their own way.

    Lovely post Doc.

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    I always have liked all these folks who make life better and are so humble they don’t realize it.

    One thing you will leave behind is your blog. I like the idea of downloading human brain activity while we are still here on Earth. Someday it will be a cerebral time capsule for folks to understand thought process in this era.

    Who knows, maybe a hundred years from now computers will do everything and our ways will be viewed as quaint. I prefer to think we will looked back on with nostalgia as still human.

    Dr. B

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