Archive for May 2011

The Battle Begins

May 31, 2011

        The battle begins in the AM. I can tell the pre-treatment light artillery has softened the target some and I can’t wait to see what the smart bombs do.

         It will be two months of intensive treatment. By August I should have a good idea where it is going.

         Prayers and concern but no fear guys. In my prayers God says He ain’t done with me yet.

Dr. B


The The Soft Hearted Tough Love Modified Military Music Therapy Intellectual Brain Tumor Cure Plan

May 31, 2011

        Ok guys, I have treatable brain tumor. It was diagnosed in the first seven days of symptoms. We have a plan.

        I have great docs and nurses and access to the most modern treatment on Earth. There are documented cures of my disease, and not just sporadic ones. But that is only the start.

       I have faith. I My only prayer from the start was God would clear a path for me to serve my people even if my capacity was changed in some way. He has told me says He is not through with me yet. I believe Him.

         I have the best wife in the world. Somehow Charlie Brown got lucky and married the little red-haired girl and never looked back. She curls up next to me and drops my blood pressure twenty points. Who needs medicine with a woman like that?

        My boy has me outfitted with his basic training Camel Back so his mama doesn’t have to follow me all over the house to get my water in me. He’s the tough love part, you can bounce a nickel off his chest or bed either one. “You drinking your water, sir?”

        “Yes sir! I salute my hero. You can count on me sir!

         He hands me a piece of paper. If you hair starts to fall out, here’s man for a class high and tight. I recommend him.”

        “Yes sir, sir.”

        I sent my boy home with my Country Telecaster and an amp. I can’t play it right now; too heavy and a little loud for a few weeks. He played “Sweet Home Alabama” and that baby kicked up a storm in the womb. We’re bluegrass, but we love classic county too. Another musician on the way!

        My daughter is a double major in the Intellectual component of the Brain Cancer War, Masters in both Social Work and Public Health. She grew up with my love of books. She handles all my paperwork. My close vision is off a little right now, so she reads it all and I sign.

        Then there is my extended bluegrass family. God Bless Darin and Brooke Aldridge and Wayne and Kristin Scott Benson. They all came to visit Sunday and we laid down a rough track of “Amazing Grace” on the back porch. It has a few rough spots ’cause I was the goofy band director, so any errors you hear are me. I plan to use it as is as the opening track to the mando duet CD Darin and I had planned this fall. Let the healing begin!

        And I check in with my personal Music Therapist, sweet little Megan Peeler of Nashville every few days and she cheers me on. She’s my little country music daughter.

        We have named the tumor “Long Gone” after the LRB song. Sammy, whenever you play it know you are part of healing old Doc. And folks, if you ever played a note of this music you helped me make it in my world, be it Sam getting me to howl at the moon when a favorite patient died instead of curling up in the grave with my pal, or Bill Monroe’s “Kentucky Waltz” letting an awkward two left-footed boy slow dance with the prettiest girl in Harvey County. (My wife)

        And thanks to all my blog pals, esp Uncle Ted and Aunt Irene, The bluegrass Blog and Cindy Lou for spreading the word and keeping the faith. Concern is fine and I sure need the prayers, but don’t feel sorry for me. Let’s save that for those who do not have my resources and are somewhat defenseless, like those strong little MACC children who are already my little heroes. If they can be brave surely an old knot like me who has already had a full life no matter what happens can do the same. Lets say a pray for them today. Pray for my Mom and Dad too. They are elderly and also on the warpath for my rescue with food and supplies. They don’t need this. Pray it doesn’t hurt them too much.

        Love you all. Together, you made my life. I God tells me Eternity is still a ways off for me but I will never forget you for all time.

        Sorry for typos, will clean up when the light is better.

Dr. B

Brain Tumor Blues

May 28, 2011

I dedicate this song to my doctors, my nurses, and to anyone who suffers

The Brain Tumor Blues


I’ve got the Brain Tumor Blues   But that don’t mean I’m thru
My neurosurgery pal drilled a hole in my skull and did what  he could do
To rummage ‘round and carve about 
And diagnosis that devil right out
It’ll take time but a cure’s what he pursues


It’ll be pinch of radiation and a touch of chemotherapy stew
I’m Wake Forest Gold but Duke Blue Devil will do
This new recipe ain’t no Bull City Bull
But the hippest new trick to make a country boy full
of hope for a cure and a comeback as good as new



So I’m off my gig a couple of months or three
But I’ll be back just you wait and see
My brain ain’t old, just hypertrophied
There’s doctoring to do and stories to tell
Still so many songs to play I’ve just gotta stay 
And hang aound to for a few more Dr. B days


Dr. B


May 26, 2011

        This just in. First grandchild  due in Oct and is gonna be a boy. (either would be great) My doctor called and asked if I could start my treatments a week early. 

        “Dang right,” I said. “I feel a healing coming on!”

Dr. B

Doc Sick Day

May 19, 2011

        This was an unusual day for me. For one, I did not post a song of the day on FaceBook. There was a reason.

        I awoke this AM with profound vertigo. A few associated symptoms made me think it might be a stroke.  I spent the day in the hospital and I am scheduled for some more tests Monday with a subspecialist. I am home now and I’m a touch better.

        I will tell you what I know. This indeed was a stroke-like neurological illness. There are some more studies that need to be done. It is extremely unlikely I have something wrong that is going to do me in. It is likely this will keep me out if the doc gig for several weeks; a first in my career. I will let you know more when I know more.

        I don’t want you guys to worry too much. Believe me, there are a lot of folks worse off. If you feel like you have to do something for me tell a friend to buy “The Mandolin Case.” In it I embedded every lesson I could on how to live with integrity but still not be trampled on. I love my wife’s long-term motto; “We try to live a life of grace and dignity.”

        I do not know what all of the future holds, but I know these things for certain.

1. My prayers assure me my place in Eternity is secure.

2. My wife and children love me.

3. I had the best staff you could hope for; the same nurses for almost thirty years. Great people.

4. I had the finest extended bluegrass family ever. Darin and Brooke are like young’uns and Wayne and Kristin are like siblings. (except they are married to each other) Moose was like a brother and Horace like a second  father. There are so many more I can’t name ’em all.

5. God gave me wonderful gift years ago; the ability to read books and fill in bubbles on tests, and then allowed to me transfer that into an uncanny ability to diagnose my people with accuracy. I wasn’t the best in the world, but I was good. I am proud of me for this: I used that gift to help people without fail. I never used the gift as a vehicle to take advantage of people, run with women, or have bunch of fancy unneeded toys. I never made that much money but it was more than enough. My motto was one wife, many mandolins. I had three mandolins. (They are all promised) Whenever my time on earth has elapsed I have no regrets because I did my best at every turn.

6. With the exception of John Starling I played as much music as any doctor who ever lived.

7. As far as I know I am the only successful physician bluegrass fiction writer in the world, and “The Mandolin Case” has exceeded my wildest dreams. (see above)

        One more thing, If y’all write I may not be able to get to each one of you with a personal note for a while, but I do appreciate every one of you who ever read a word of mine and gave it serious consideration.

        I’ll be back when I’m a little better and I have any more news. 

Thanks so much,

Dr. B

A Non-Robotic Doc

May 16, 2011

        I just came off a couple of book gigs with Dr. Therese Zink. Check her out on my blogroll. She’s a community medicine professor and JAMA contributor from up North who asked me to collaborate on her southern tour to promote her country doctor compilation. (She chose one of my essays for the book, and also had me write a synopsis for one section) It was a grand opportunity to interact with young docs.

        At one conference the subject of robot docs came up. I agree there are some procedures where robots outperform humans. I’m all for modern, as my 20/20 vision post successful cataract and retinal detachment surgeries will attest, but I also want to be sure we don’t ever take the human factor out of the equation.

       I’ve always feared one day when I got old (and it is closing in on me) a trip to the doctor would be to go to some megasuperstore, sign in to see the robot, swipe your debit card and the cold hearted machine would spit out some half-baked diagnosis and not even pat you on the shoulder and tell you it was sorry. The right diagnosis without human empathy isn’t worth too much to me. (I realize some human docs act that way now; I’m against it)

        As always, the answers to modern medicine are often in music and the arts. As they say on bluegrass radio, “watch out where you’re going, but don’t forget where you came from.” I was pleased so see how respectful these young docs are of tradition, but they are still very modern in their thought process. We’re gonna be in good hands. 

        When my gig is up down the road, I hope they will say, “Old Doc B wasn’t perfect, but at least he cared.”

        My posts may be shorter for a while. I’m heavy into “Acquisition Syndrome” right now. More to follow.

Dr. B

reader Quotes

May 11, 2011

        I got a note on my desk the other day from this sweet young lady. Her Dad and I played basketball together many years ago. It makes you realize “The Mandolin Case” is a “Circle Be Unbroken” kind of project. -Dr. B

        “I saw the write-up in Our State Magazine and really enjoyed reading the book. I loved reading how Bones and Indie escape tough times through their music. It’s a beautiful get-away.”  -B.B.G.

        I have to admit this kind of feedback makes my day. I also added it to my “Quotes From Readers” page.

Dr. B