Archive for the ‘favorite non bluegrassers’ category

A Face Made for Radio (My Facebook Page)

March 28, 2009

        My agent has been after me forever to start a Facebook Page.  For a long time, I never got around to it.  “Awh, heck boss, my people know where to find me.”

        He persisted.  “Come on, Doc.  Are you gonna insist on being a Neanderthal forever?  You use new meds don’t you?”

        “Well, yeah, but that’s different.  Even in medicine, I want to be like in the Army.  I don’t want to be first in line, but I don’t want to be last either.”

        “In this case you better hurry up.  You might be the last writer on the planet not on Facebook.”

        “Really?  Say it is that big?”

        “Trust me.”

        I’ve spent my whole life as a Doc and a bluegrass picker, and had no idea where to start.  One day I mentioned it to a little friend of mine, a bluegrass fiddler, and she said, “Good Lord have mercy, Doc.  We can set that up faster than Moose Dooley can pick the Bluegrass Breakdown.”

         And that is how it came to be.  She was brilliant.  Why with a few keystrokes, she pulled up names I knew from years back.

        “Look here, kid.  I picked with this cat when he played with Knoxville Grass.  Why that has been twenty-five years.  And check this out, this lady here has written tunes for Alison Krauss.  Hey I met that guy at Galax.  Lord can he flat pick a guitar.  This dobro man; mercy!” 

         Page after page came up. Along the way, I had played a note or two or at least knew every one of them.

        “You know what kid?  By the time old Doc  is through bluegrass is gonna be on the brain of every school child in America.”

        She smiled and shook her head.  “Doc, you do love the music, don’t you?”

        “Yeah boy.  Hey, check this one out.  You talk about a fiddler…..”

        My agent was right. (again)  This Facebook is gonna be the ticket.

Dr. B


The Best Ones Are All That Way- Joe Garagiola, Jr.

August 24, 2008

        I’ll get back to fiction with my next post, but I thought about an old gig the other day, and wanted to share this story first.      

        My mandolin gets me into the best venues.  You remember Al Donnelly, the Irish folk rocker?  Some time back he got a call to play a sports banquet.  It was for a few hundred people and he wanted a little extra sparkle, and thought it called for a mandolin.  Well, have mandolin will travel, so I was in.

        As it turned out, the guest speaker was Joe Garagiola, Jr.  I’m sure you remember his dad- the bald headed catcher with all the great baseball stories who was a mainstay on T.V. a few years back.  As you can imagine, Joe Jr. knew a bunch of tales, too.  He’d been around baseball all his life.

        As it turned out, though, Joe Jr. is more than just a ball player.  He’d been to law school and was chief counsel for the Yankees for years.  I figure if you report to George Steinbrenner, you’re a tough dude.  Nowadays Garagiola is Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations, and was general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks for a  decade.  But in spite of all that he was a nice fellow, and had the quiet confidence of a guy who had found his way in the world.  The best ones are all that way.

        He started out with a lot of Yogi Berra stories, and they were very funny, but it was his take on Joe DiMaggio that caught my ear the most.  Some one asked DiMaggio how he could play so hard every game and he said, (paraphrased) “Because someone is the crowd might see me for the only time, and I want to give them their money’s worth.  However I play ball that day will be how they remember me.”

        I was positioned right behind Mr. Garagiola for the evening.  I enjoyed his talk, and I think he dug my mandolin work.  After the gig, we got to chat for a moment.

        “Mr. Garagiola, I enjoyed your talk, especially the part about DiMaggio.”

        “Thanks Doc, I enjoyed your music too.”

        “You know, I wanted to be a ball player, but I ran into a kid with a fastball I couldn’t hit, and decided I’d better be a Doctor.”

        “That was probably for the best, Doc,” he said.

        “Yeah, I think so too.  My buddy made it to triple A.  I just didn’t have the arm or the speed.  Loved it though.  I thought about what you said about DiMaggio, and I agree.  You know, even though I wasn’t good enough to make it in baseball, I still took home some lessons from the game.  I had read that about DiMaggio.  Even though I am gray haired now, and don’t have to do it, I still read and study and try to give each patient my best.  For all I know it might be the only time they see me.”  

        “Doc, the best ones are all that way.”  We shook hands.

        I ain’t as good as DiMaggio, but I took it as a high compliment.

        Y’all, about the time I finished this post, I got a call about Indie.  He’s sick with fever and cough, and I’d better go check on him.  I’ll report back to you mid-week.

Dr. B

Blooper Against the World

August 12, 2008

        One night on vacation I was taking a snooze as the cable news droned on.  Ms. Marfar nudged me.  “Hey Tommy, see that guy on T.V.?  He’s from the County.  His aunt is in the quilt guild with me.”

        “Yeah, Yeah, what’s his name, hon….”  I glanced at the screen.  “Wait a minute.  Dangnation, THAT’S BLOOPER!”

        “Blooper?  Who’s Blooper?  His name is Jim.”

        I jumped up and ran across the room to take a closer look.  It might be forty five years down the road, but the face was unmistakable.  It was Blooper.  “Honey, you ain’t gonna believe this, but that is 100% for a fact Blooper.”

        As it turned out, Blooper is now a high ranking government official in the thick of chasing down some very bad people.  I ain’t even gonna tell you what part of the world he is in for fear of compromising his safety.  Nowadays he is big and tough, and wore a bunch of medals on his chest.  Not the kind of human being a mild mannered doctor want to get in a scrap with, I assure you.

        Marfar looked up from her knitting, and peered at me over her glasses.  “Blooper?  Dear, I’m afraid you have to translate.”

        “Oh, when we were kids we all played sandlot ball down at old Washington School.  Bloop was four or five years younger than the rest of us, and was a bit pudgy back then.  One day he let a ball get between his legs and Larry nicknamed him Blooper.  He was quiet and never complained, but I am sure the kid tolerated terminal harassment.” 

        I watched the interview with great fascination.  Blooper was now no kid, but a very serious man whose daily routine involved missions to disrupt terrorist activity.  The newsman was timid, and seemed scared of him.  Heck, he looked bad to the bone- I would be too.  Blooper had done good. 

        I’m gonna tell you, I’ll bet the terrorists are scared of him too.  Any cat who grew up as Blooper and seethed about it near a half century is not to be taken lightly.

        Marfar watched a bit longer, and said, “Honey, he seems like a nice man.  Y’all shouldn’t have called him Blooper.”

        I thought about that for a minute.  “Tell you what, hon.  When you run into his aunt at the quilt guild, you make sure she knows it wasn’t my idea to call him Blooper.  I called him Jim.”

        Bloop looks like the kind of fellow you want to keep on your good side.  Somehow, I have a notion he hasn’t forgotten much.  I sure hope I didn’t call him that; I can’t remember.  One better be real careful how they treat people, time has a way of settling up old scores.

        Enough on vacation.  I’m gonna visit Indie at the Nursing Home this weekend, and I’ll report back to you.

Dr. B

A Little Help From My Friends

July 10, 2008

        I saw a patient today who goes back a long way with me.  A few years ago, he lost his health insurance, and I did what I could to help him along.  I gave him samples at each visit, and charged less than what was indicated every time too.  We never talked about it, but he was a smart guy, and I know he knew what I was doing.

        When he got another job, and some health insurance, he scheduled a visit right away.  “Doc,” he said.  “I appreciate all you done to carry me along last year.  I’ve got me some health insurance now, and I want you to do everything you have- run up a bill for a grand!”  He held both arms out as a gesture to draw blood work.

        I had to tell him it didn’t work that way, but I did appreciate his concern for me.  Here he was  gonna sacrifice his body to help me out.  It was a thoughtful response, and it sure meant more to me than the thousand dollars would have from his insurance company.  Besides, we are a little country office.  I’m not sure we could run up that kind of bill in a day, anyway.  If we did, I’m certain they would take notice.

       But, as much trouble as insurance companies give us, it was a nice thought, and it got me through the day.  I appreciated an offer for a little help from my friends, even if I could not partake of it.

Dr. B

Bootsie and Roarco the Pony

June 5, 2008

        I don’t know what inspired me to write up this post except today a patient told me about their favorite pet they had as a kid.  So, I thought I’d tell you about mine.  If you had a favorite one, I’d like to hear of them.  I write this at the risk some of my readers might label me as the “Syndicated Sap of the South,” but I am serious.  I had several I thought of as family. 

        The first was Bootise.  She was a little dog who was part Cocker, part Pekingese and Lord knows what else.  I don’t remember how I came about Bootise, but she was my first pet.  When I went off to the first grade we had to lock her up every morning, cause she’d follow me to the school house. 

        One day my mom let her out too early, and she took off through the woods.  There was a shortcut there we’d take to play ball on the weekends, and it was a faster route.  Anyway, when I got to school there she was right by my desk.  The principal, Mr. Wilson, came in the room and tried to get her to leave and she bit him on the leg.  This didn’t go over well with my mom, and we had to take the dog out to grandma’s farm to stay.  I was gonna get to visit on the weekends. 

        We stopped on the way home to get a bite to eat, and when we got back to the house the dog was sitting right there on the front steps.  Mom didn’t have the heart to take her back out to the farm, so she got to stay.

        Sometime after Bootsie, I got the notion I needed a pony.  I had some grandiose plan I was gonna ride in the County Fair and win the pony race, which was beyond absurd for a little boy.  I nagged everyone so long we ended up with one.  I named it Roarco.  I have no idea why. 

        The plan was the pony was gonna live out on the farm and my cousins would ride it weekdays and I’d come out with my folks on the weekend.  My grandfather would take care of it and my dad would buy all the feed and supplies.  It wasn’t much of a deal for anyone but me- all I had to do was ride.

        Boy did I love that pony.  If you’ve never ridden one, Roarco might have invented the phrase “a horse headed for the barn.”  That animal was plum sluggish as we went out, but when we got to the south end of the pasture I’d turn her around and she’d take off headed for home.  You had to watch out for the clothes line- if the sheets were out she wouldn’t go through there, but if they weren’t she’d try to run under the clothesline, and I had to work to be sure she didn’t go that route.

        It all went along fine for a while but my cousins lost interest and my folks couldn’t get out there every weekend.  She got to where she wasn’t used to a rider and got rambunctious except with me.  One day my Uncle Jimmy decided to go for a ride.  I tried to tell him, but he got on anyway, and she ran him into the mailbox then threw him off and he broke his femur.  After that she got foundered.  The next thing I knew Roarco wasn’t there anymore, and I never was told where she went except Uncle Jimmy said something about the glue factory in the sky.  Even at that age he warn’t fooling me, but I got over it in time.

        Maybe those animals have to do with why I wound up so idealistic as an adult.  How many little boys dream of a pony and wind up with one?  My guess is very few are so lucky.  I’ll have to tell you though I never see a tube of Elmer’s without thinking of ole Roarco.  She was a fine pony.  I wish they hadn’t let anyone but me ride her though- I was the only one she trusted.

Dr. B

A Patient I am In Awe Of

June 4, 2008

        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                 

Dr. Bibey Sr.

March 5, 2008

        Like me, my dad is a country doctor.  Even though he is 79 and holding, he is still the same country doc he has always been and always will be.  Some things never change.

        I learned a lot from my Dad.  No so much about hemachromatosis- I had to go to school for that- but more about how to treat patients with respect and dignity.  For that, I learned at the feet of a master.  I have never met one who was better.

        I had a number of influences in my life.  My mom was an English teacher before she retired to raise me, (they say I was a handful) and she instilled my love of books.  My grandfather the farmer taught me more about hard work than I wanted to know.  It was my Dad, though, who first influenced me to be a Doc.

        Our crowd goes a long way back in the doctor gig.  I remember when Dad wrote Marshall Dillon (of T.V. western “Gunsmoke” fame) to tell him he shouldn’t smoke, especially on television.  It was years before I realized Matt Dillon did not quit smoking because of my father’s advice.  When color T.V. came in and Pa Cartwright on “Bonanza” had a funny skin tint on that early color T.V. set my Dad remarked that he looked jaundiced.  I went to look it up, but it was some time before I realized jaundice was not a diagnosis! 

        I remember going through Mississippi on a family vacation, and an elderly man walked across the street.  My dad observed his gait, and said, “Son that man has had a stroke.”  To a kid, for a man to make such a pronouncement about a stranger- a human being he’d never laid eyes on- was an unbelievable knowledge base.  I had to tap into it.

        Once my cousin Robert got the “side pleurisy” and his folks brought him all the way across the state so we could keep him till he got well.  Dad was the only doc in the extended family.  I bet they passed the offices of fifty good docs on the trip, but my father was the only one they trusted, so we kept the boy a few days till he got well and his people could come back to get him.  I think mama deserved the credit; it seems all the boy did was drink chicken soup and play cops and robbers with me for a few day till his folks came back, but he got well and they were most appreciative.  In those days everybody knew of someone who had died of side pleurisy, and it was a respected foe.

        For a long time in town, if Dr. Bibey Sr. said it, it was the gospel, and we’d go about our merry way glad the issue was resolved.  We were just kids and had no idea how much he struggled to take care of everybody.  Like Tiger hitting a golf ball, he make it look easy.

        Here is one story I never forgot.  Dad was on a ship in WWII.  He told me of a ship mate who went berserk- shell shock.  (I can’t blame the cat, I’m sure it would get to me.)  Dad was a medic (he went to school on the G.I. bill) and called the ship doctor to get the situation under control.

        The Doc was a large man, and it took that and more to wrest control of the situation.  To this day Dad recalls the poor crewman cursing and spitting, and calling the old doc’s mother’s integrity into question while the doc sat on the boy’s chest and gave him some sort of injection to get him down.

        Dad asked the doctor how he could stay so calm in the face of such abusiveness, and the doctor replied he was a professional.  It was his job to save the fellow from himself if humanly possible.  In all the years I have watched my Dad work I have never seen him lose his patience with another human being, regardless of how unreasonable they might be.

        My Dad learned his lessons from that old ship Doctor well.  I learned mine from my Dad.  I wish I could say I’m as good as him, but I’m not- I can get surly if my patience is stretched far enough.  

       My Dad was like Marcus Welby.  In real life, he was that patient.  I’m afraid I am more like Dr. Kiley, the cat that rode around on the motorcycle and had a bit of a wild streak in him.  (I gave up on motorcycles long ago, though.)  I reckon all I can do is keep trying- there ain’t no human on the planet more patient than Bibey Sr.  I’ll just have to do the best I can.  

Dr. B



Paig the Matriarch

February 5, 2008

        Before I go on with chronic illness, I gotta tell you about Paig.  Paig is the matriarch of the practice, and I have no idea what I’d a done without her.  She recently had some minor surgery (she’s O.K. and will be back in three weeks) and I felt like all her years of service deserved some ink.  She’s the best.

        Paig came on board at the suggestion of Lynn O’Carroll.  Lynn has been like a one woman office personnel service over the years.  Every recommendation she’s made  has been a keeper, and Paig was no exception.

        When Paig started out with me, I was a young Doc starting out in practice, and Paig was an experienced office manager for another doc in town who had just retired.  We hired her on the spot and she has been with us ever since.

       These days Paig is semi-retired, but I’m gonna tell you for many years without her old Doc Bibey woulda surely gone under.  I’ll give myself an A minus as a Doc, but I try hard.  As far as a business person I’m a charitable C-.  I was fortunate- Paig was an A+.

        Paig knew where every form was, and could quote the status of every E.O.B. in the practice.  She bid on office supplies and equipment with a ruthlessness that would make Donald Trump proud.  When she  decided to slow down we had to bring in three computers to keep up with all the numbers she ran in her head on a daily basis.

        She had a heart too, though, and we both believed in carrying along these little old folks who brought in five or ten bucks a month.  It was all they could do, and we both knew it.

        And bless her heart, she’s like mom away from home for all of us.  My kids had minimal trouble through the years, but it was Paig who convinced me I was being unreasonable about one speeding ticket for such a fine boy.  (She understood I was only scared he’d get hurt.)  One time some boys harassed my daughter (she is now a black belt in karate) and had it not been for Paig, the County might have been out one doc.  She was the only one who could calm me down.  Looking back, I suppose my plan to kill those guys and spend the rest of my life as a prison doctor was a bit irrational.  (When someone threatens your people it just drives you outta your mind.) 

        We have an unwritten rule in the office.  Docs in small towns are like Parsons- carefully observed- and I won’t ride across town with the young ladies- it just ain’t fitting.  I never tell a woman’s age, but like I said Paig is mama, and everyone in town knows that, so when my car was in the shop she was always my transportation.  She still keeps conversation hearts on her desk, and my favorite candy corn at Halloween.

        Maybe this last story tells it best.  Everyone at the office knows my vice is a three o’clock Co-Cola.  It goes back to school days, when my real mom would let me have one Co-Cola a day (the ones in the little green bottles) right after school.

        Every day at 3:00 sharp, unless we have an emergency, I make the announcement of “school’s out!” and everybody knows to indulge me a short break for a Co-Cola.

        Well, Paig is out for surgery, and last week I went to the refrigerator only to find we were out of Co-Colas.  I asked our young office manager what in the world I was gonna do.  She went back to Paig’s office, opened a cabinet, and low and behold there were six Coca-Colas on the shelf.  It seems before Paig went to surgery, she stashed them there and left a note in case the staff forgot to go to the store and re-stock me.  

        Vintage Paig.  All male Docs need a mama in the office and Paig was mine.  Like I said, I’d never made it without her.  So, get well soon pal, and hurry on back.  (I’m about to run outta Coca Cola.)

Dr. B