Better Keep the Day Job Part Two
The other day I saw two patients who reminded me why I need to keep my day job. The first one was in for a minor illness. It was a man I have known a decade. Years ago our bass player asked us to play a little country church for a covered dish supper. I love these kind of gigs. Nice country folks, deviled eggs, homemade pimento cheese, fried chicken. I’ve never played one I didn’t enjoy.
A man came up afterwards. “You really a Doc?”
“You see new patients?”
“If I get sick I might come see you.”
“Sure, no problem.”
Six months went by. One day he showed up at the front desk. The staff came to ask. “We don’t have a chart on this man. He says he saw you playing the mandolin at Creek Side Baptist. Says he’s got fever and chills. Probably the flu. Do you want to work him in?”
“Sure.” I don’t always remember everyone who comes up to me when we play, but for some reason this man’s face was as clear in my memory as if I’d eaten breakfast with him that morning. I could write of every wrinkle but it would identify him, and in the doc business that just isn’t allowed.
Once he was in the exam room I took a history. As the staff had said, he had a low grade fever and chills, but no other symptoms. He had been sick a few days. His daughter made him come ’cause she said his color looked bad. When I examined him, I didn’t find much until I checked his abdomen.
Uh oh. He had some kind of mass deep in the in the right side of his belly. It occurred to me either he had an abscess or something that stood a good chance it was gonna kill him. I told him of my concerns, but I emphasized the abscess. That we could cure.
He went for a stat CT scan. The diagnosis was a ruptured appendix with a large abscess. The surgeon said another day would likely have done him in. As you might imagine, my patient and I are still very good friends.
You have to wonder. What if we hadn’t played the church that night? This was not a man to go to the doctor every day. He might have put off the visit, except he thought of me and my mandolin and decided to give me a try.
Later that afternoon, I saw a little girl with strep throat. She was a cute little blue eyed curly blond-haired young’un. He cheeks were flushed and her eyes were red. It didn’t take a doc to see she didn’t feel well at all. “Tell you what sweetie,” I said. “We’ll get you all well, and then I’ll play some music for you.”
Her lower lip pooched out and the tears began to well up. I got a kleenex and dried them off. “It’s okay, kid. If you don’t feel like music we’ll let that part go.”
She managed a smile. I love our music, and I sure didn’t want to imprint her to be against it. She’ll be in another time, or maybe she’ll come to the open house for the new office.
With both patients, I decided I better keep my day job and not turn in my stethoscope just yet. I think the good Lord sent my man to the only Doc the fellow felt he could talk to, and I sure don’t want to play the mandolin and make little girls cry.
Oh well, it works out best for me to be a doctor who is a mandolin player than a mandolin player who is a doctor. I better stick with what I am.
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