Archive for the ‘mini-posts’ category

I’m Making Plans

April 12, 2008

        There is an old Vince Gill number from his “Here Today” bluegrass album called “I’m Making Plans.”  I remember it well, ’cause it was one of the first vocal duets I worked up with Darrell.  I remember sitting in the car at the Middle School waiting on my kids (I always picked them up on my day off- it was my only shot at it)  and he and I worked on my part singing while we listened to the cassette player in my old Scout.  (I always made good use of any down time.) 

        Right now I am making a lot of plans, and I wanted to share my direction with you.  To some degree, I’m asking for forgiveness, ’cause I know the next few months are gonna lean more towards the medical.  (Don’t worry though, the music is so intertwined in my life it won’t all be a bore.)

        I am in hard medical study right now, though, and will finish a project called Core Content Review around the first of August.  IMHO (bluegrass for in my humble opinion) this is the premier Family Doc update in the country.  It is hard to read about the differential diagnosis of fever of undetermined etiology by night and not bore you to tears with my writing by day, so if I do that, I hope you will let me know.  (If you don’t my agent will- what a tough cat he is.)

        I guess you might wonder why an old guy like me still reads so hard, and it is just pure old pride and habit.  I want to be my best till the bitter end.  Some prize fighters wait too long, and get in the ring one time too many.  So, I want to leave the fight game when the time is right, but hope everyone will say, “Tommy could have hung in there a few more rounds, I know he coulda.”  So I study on.  I guess I don’t want the young folks to get ahead of me.  Like Satchel Paige said, “Don’t look over your shoulder, someone might be gaining on you.”

        That ain’t the end of my plans, though.  After August, I’m gonna reverse field.  Oh, I’ll study every day, but I’m gonna change my mix.  It’ll be a half hour on the mandolin, one hour on the Doctor books, and three at the keyboard.  (About the opposite of my current routine.)  Come Jan. 1, 2009, I plan to have the first rough draft of my book to my agent.  He says if I am lucky, it might see the light of day eighteen months later.

        Now, I have no illusions.  I did two bluegrass CDs.  They were both an artistic success, and even sold a few thousand copies.  One of our boys was disappointed, but the lady we worked with in Nashville put it in perspective in a hurry.  She’d seen many of these self-titled released piled up for all time in a closet.  To make a profit is a small phenomenon.

        By the same token, I have similar aspirations for my books.  If they are an artistic success, ie if I get to say what I set out to say, and the first one sells well enough to interest my agent in a second project, they by definition are a success to me.  I know I ain’t the next Grisham, and I’d be lost in New York (can you imagine Tommy Bibey on Oprah?  I’ll never be on that kind of radar screen.)  So, I’ll just have to be what I am.  I do worry a bit about how well received they might not be.  But, I have no interest to modify what I want to say just to appeal to pop culture and try to sell a bunch of extra copies. 

        Still, I hold on to hope.  I want to write to let folks without a medical background in on what I believe to be the truth about modern medical practice.  And I want to let people inside the world of bluegrass music I love so. 

        I realize it will not appeal to all.  As far as the power players in the medical industry, it will even invoke some anger, and I wonder at times if they will want it banned!  On the other hand, I have found my readers to be a bright, inquisitive lot.  My agent always says to trust your readers; they are out there, so I’m gonna do just that.

        Well, now y’all know I’m making plans.  If I get published, I hope you’ll tell your friends and neighbors to buy a copy- a run of 2,000 or so will convince my agent to try again, and I have a series of three planned.  For now, though, I gotta go back to studying doctoring.  Someone might be gaining on me, and I ain’t looking back except to tell all the old war stories I’ve accumulated from a lifetime in the ring.

        Y’all wish me luck.  I’m gonna need it. 

Dr. B    


Arm Chair Music Critics

April 5, 2008

        One time Chet Atkins decided to sit on a park bench and play the guitar for a while.  A fellow walked by and sat down to listen.  What luck.  Can you imagine that?  A personal concert from an all time legendary artist.

       After a few tunes, the man got up to leave.  “You’re good,”  he said.  “You ain’t as good as Chet Atkins, but you’re good.”  Now there’s an expert, huh?

       An old farmer was in the office last week and had seen me play on T.V.  “Hey, Doc.  I seen you on T.V.  You done real good on that mandolin.”

        “Thank you sir, I appreciate that.”  I was flattered.  He must have noticed some of those new licks Darrell and Ben had shown me.

        “You ain’t so good on the guitar, though.”  (I did a couple rock ‘n roll songs on electric Tele, and I’d be the first to admit I am not an expert on the instrument.)

        So much for my reputation as a multi-instrumentalist.  I took it for what is was and had a good laugh for the day.  I did take heart, though.  Children and old folks tend to be very honest.  He was right- I ain’t much of a guitar man, but then on the other hand, he spoke highly of my mandolin work.  I must be coming along.  The way I figure it, those salt of the earth people don’t know know how to lie, so it must be true.

        Better either practice my guitar or put the thing up and not play it in public, I guess.  The mandolin I can handle, at least for an amateur.  I don’t need to give up my day job for it either, though.

Dr. B 

April 1, 2008

April 1, 2008

        It is a fine day.

        I woke up this morning and checked out my Beatle mop-top in the mirror.  There’s nary a gray hair in my head.  Ms. Marfar’s dark eyes dance.  I know everyone says we ain’t old enough to be married, and I have to admit she is just a young’un.  We’ll show ’em- the two of us can conquer the world. 

        My Miss Marie toddles at my side, and I am still the man in her life for years to come.  Tommy Jr. is just a kid, but can bust a golf ball 275 yards.  The Golf Channel is new, and we watch over supper and try to pick out the future stars.  (Golf is still the elusive game not conquered but this kid named Tiger shows a lot of promise.)  Tommy watches a Nike tour boy rope hook his drive into the hazard.  “Shoot Dad, you can take him.  I’ve never seen you hit one like that.”  His youthful confidence is unwarranted, but appreciated. 

        I pick up my mandolin and rip through some difficult tunes without effort.  I sound somewhere in between Darrell and Ben, my mando gurus.   Perfect tone and timing, and all the exactly correct embellishments.  Man, what a player.

         The Moose says we have big gig this weekend.  Someone was gonna have one of those BBQ, hay bale, and checkered table cloth parties, and they thought of that crazy doctor who plays the ukulele.  They are gonna pay us a grand to play, and with gas at 85 cents a gallon, that is a heck of a lot of money.

        Alison called today, and wondered if I could hit the road with Union Station.  She wanted a mando player/doc/road nanny combo for her young’un, and being the big kid I am she thought I was the perfect match.  As it turns out, there is a new vaccine that is gonna end all childhood illness, so I don’t think she’ll need me.  I recommended a young man named Dan Tyminski.  I can’t bring myself to say I can sing as good as him.  This might be a fiction forum, but outright bold faced ones aren’t allowed, even on April 1.

        My Board scores came in the mail today.  Instead of reading my ^** off to make the 94th percentile, it was an effortless 99th like my old friend, Tom “Brilliancy” Bailey back in med school.

        I’ll sleep well tonight, but April 2nd I will awake for a moment at 12:01.  Not only is childhood disease going to be a thing of the past, but the Good Lord says in Heaven there will be no illness of any kind, and I can retire to play mandolin in Heaven’s bluegrass band for all eternity.  I wasn’t perfect, but I was the best I could be, and sorry for any mistakes or misjudgments I have made.  Being human is good enough for the Good Lord.  I am forgiven for the errors I have made; He knows I didn’t make ’em on purpose.  

        He promises Ms. Marfar and those kids will reside there with me in a perpetual youthful state.  Once home, there will be no sickness or suffering, and I can finally lay down my stethoscope once and for all.  And that folks, ain’t no April Fools, but the real thing.

        I’ll drift back to peaceful sleep.  Come morning, I’ll have the strength to carry on, and to be a Doc for another day. 

Dr. B


So Happy Together

March 27, 2008

        Remember that old song, “So Happy Together?”  I’ve often wondered why some marriages endure forever and others don’t make it.  Now I have figured it out.

        There was a blip on the morning news yesterday that claimed the best chance of success was when an average looking man married a beautiful woman. 

        So that’s what it was.  And all these years I thought it was playing that music for her.

Dr. B

Learning As I Go

March 19, 2008

        In every gig, I learn something new.  When you play music with women, there is always a different perspective.

        Here is the first one.  Our last gig was on St. Patrick’s day.  (I got busy and posted a day late.)  I showed up in whatever I’d worn to the office, but my wife brought me a different shirt for the show.  I thought the one I had on was O.K., but she explained it had no green, and the color was imperative on St. Patrick’s day.  I asked why, and she said if you don’t wear green it gives women the right to pinch you.  Given my high profile with the nursing home population, and the the predominant demographic of elderly and female, it made sense to me, and changed shirts.

         Number two.  If you’ll notice on T.V. most singers have an ear plug.  It ain’t a hearing aid, and they are not listening to their IPOD or the ball game.  This is an in-ear monitor.  Believe it or not, we use ’em too.  When you are on stage, the ability to hear the mix is imperative.  Without a good monitor it’s like driving at night with no headlights.  Anyway, I was having trouble clipping mine on, and Marfar used some sort of gadget that held it in place better than anything the boys have ever come up with.  After the show, I found out it was a hair clip.  I kept in in my gig bag for my next Neuse River outing.  I don’t know if they’ll make fun of me or want one, but it worked great.

        Finally, I am always fascinated as to how the ladies engage their audience.  As you know, their theme song is “When You’re Smiling.”  Before they played the tune, they passed out some sorta green St. Paddy Day hand-help snapping contraption to keep time with, and every single one of the residents snapped along in time, and smiled, too.  Aren’t they good? 

        Leave it to Marfar.  She’s the best.

Dr. B

A Case of Mistaken Identity

March 9, 2008

        Y’all remember Captain Kangaroo?  For those of you too young, he was a kindly but somewhat dorky gentleman who was a staple on U.S. morning television in the ’50s.  Captain wore a double breasted suit and had a bowl cut head of gray hair, a droopy mustache and a physique charitably akin to Santa Clause.  Never mind any of that, though, all the kids dug him.  He was quite popular.

        His show was sort of a children’s variety hour with stories, songs, and cartoons.  We all loved him, but I suspect if the Captain were still living even he would have to concede his popularity was not based on sex appeal.

        Not long ago, Marfar and I took in a mandolin event at Sandhills University, a mandolin orchestra show put on by my old friend Butch Baldassari.  (If not familiar, go back and read “Band Together for Butch; he is dealing with medical troubles right now.)

        We got there early to shake and howdy backstage and then went out to look for our seats.  I was with my wife, who is still a charmer and younger than me.  The young lady escorting us to our seats looked and me and said, “Sir, you look familiar.  Do I know you from somewhere?”

        Now, this was not the least bit threatening to me.  I am 100% faithful to my lovely Marfar.  I had nothing to hide, but I couldn’t begin to think of anywhere I might have run into this young woman.

        At the same time, I’m not so old I can’t pick a pretty girl out of a line-up, and this was an attractive young woman.  I have to admit I was flattered by the attention and figured she most likely knew me from my travels with Neuse River.  We had opened several shows for some name acts in the area, so I thought that must be it, and offered a possible explanation.

        “Maybe you’ve seen me with my band, Neuse River.”  I figured she probably was a college student who worked the venue on a regular basis.  “I’m their mandolin player.”

        She studied my features for a moment.  “No, that’s not it.”  Then the light bulb came on.  “Now I know.  Has anyone ever told you you look like Captain Kangaroo?”

          We went to our seats.  I was too embarrassed to ask her how such a young’un had ever heard of Captain Kangaroo.  My wife draped an arm over my shoulder and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  No words were needed.

          So much for old mandolin players, sex appeal, and a mistaken identity for Captain Kangaroo.  Not that it ain’t always been that way, but I’d better hold onto my wife and day job for dear life.

Dr. B

What I Overheard

March 4, 2008

        Recently I was in another Doctor’s office and overheard this one.  If people could only step back and realize what things sound like!

       Patient:  “I want to check on Mrs.  Smith.”

       Receptionist:  “Are you on her HIPAA (Federal Government privacy) form?”

       Patient:  “I dunno.  I’m her mama.  I want to pay fifty dollars on her bill.”

       Receptionist:  “Oh, that’s different.  What’s her date of birth?”

       I don’t know about you, but for me there is something wrong with that picture.

Dr. B

Rolling Stool Blues Revisited

March 3, 2008

        You remember my story on the rolling stools?  Today I went into room three and the thing was gone.  Now who would steal a rolling stool?  Years ago we had a very poor patient who used to steal pap smear spray (I can’t imagine what use he’d have for it) but no one had ever lifted any furniture.

       Myrd found it in room six.  A family had come in with mama for a consultation and there weren’t enough seats in the exam room, so they borrowed it from the first open room when they went down the hall.

        I’ve gotten to where there’s no reason to get upset over small things anymore.  I went in the room.  “Hey y’all, can I borrow this chair?  I’ve got a bit of an emergency over here.”  

       “Sure Dr. Bibey, no problem.  Can I help?”

         “NAP man, got it under control.”  He was happy, and I had my chair back without a fight.  All good.   As I have gotten older, I have mellowed out.  After all I have seen on this old earth there ain’t no reason to draw battle lines over trivia anymore, and I almost always have a strategy in the pocket to resolve an issue.  

        Seems like I remember my Dad saying something like, “Son, is this the worst thing that is going to happen to you today?  If so, you are a lucky boy.”  Hm.  Dad, I guess you are right. 

Dr. B

Country Doc Quote for the Day

February 29, 2008

        Oliver Wendell Holmes on a great U.S. President-  “He has a second rate mind but a first rate temperament.”

       Somehow as a busy country doc in the middle of a flu epidemic, I take comfort in that.  If that man can get us through the Great Depression and a World War, surely I can treat my sick people with compassion today, even if I am tired.  (I’m afraid the quote also describes this country doc.  I wish I were brilliant but it ain’t true.)

        See ya in the morning.

Dr. B

Up all Night

February 19, 2008

       Years ago I was up all night taking care of an elderly patient.  This was before we had full time cardiology consultation in town, much less hospitalists, so if you wanted it done, you did it yourself. 

        My patient was 81 years young, and had an inferior M.I. (heart attack in the bottom part of the heart.)  Of course, there are no good heart attacks, but as far as they go inferiors tend to do reasonably well most of the time.  Everything seemed to be going along O.K. till around midnight, when she had a burst of V. tach and a cardiac arrest.

        It was a long night.  After several more defibrillations, it was good to see the sun rise.  I was more than happy to call in reinforcements, and sent her down the road to Sandhills U.  Back then they did not do much high tech intervention in a cardiac patient that age, and they treated her about the same as we would have at home.  As it turned out the stay was uneventful, but it was still good to get second opinion.  In a few days she was safe to go home. 

        When the rescue squad boys took her out the door to go to Sandhills she said, “Tommy, I sure hated to keep you up all night, please apologize to your sweet wife for me.”

        “No problem, ma’am.  She’s given me permission to stay out all night with all the women I want to as long as they are older than 80.”  (Now that I am older, I suspect my wife would change her mind, the age limit, or both.)

          We teased about it for years, and I would tell her the two of us just couldn’t go out at night any more.  She was too wild; we’d have to meet at the office during daylight hours. 

        She was a sweetheart, and I’m proud to say she lived another dozen years.  She did quite well until her last eighteen months when age and heart failure finally caught up with her.

        I thought of her today when I saw her son for a physical.  There is a special bond in those all night-ers, and I’m still tight with the whole family.  Insurance chart guys, and sometimes young docs, often do not understand how we know so much about our people.  It’s ’cause we don’t have to ask the family history- we were there!

Dr. B