Archive for the ‘mini-posts’ category

Asthma and Pretty Girls

February 14, 2008

        Back in med school we wouldn’t admit it but we were all scared about half to death.  You couldn’t help but be intimidated.  There was so much to learn and most of us were too young to have any idea how to deal with people.  I think the trend nowadays is towards older students who have some life experience.  This is not a bad idea.

        I remember one green third year student asked to examine a young woman with asthma.  As it turned out, this was a quite attractive girl, and those flimsy gowns didn’t do much to hide the fact.

        The boy was quite unaccustomed to being around anyone who looked like that, much less being called on to examine her chest.  He placed his stethoscope with great caution, careful to avoid any notion of impropriety.

       He listened.  “Breathe in, and out,” he counseled in a most professional manner.  He did his best to divert his eyes from the obvious fact that God had been very kind to this young woman.

       The exam went on for a moment, then she asked a question.

        “Sir, aren’t you supposed to put that thing in your ears?”

        The boy was too embarrassed to go on, and left the room.  Someone else had to do the intake on that one.

        I think he went into Radiology.  

Dr. B


Marfar’s Birthday Weekend

January 27, 2008

        One thing I learned from my wife was how to celebrate.  Christmas goes full tilt from Thanksgiving to Epiphany.  And we don’t just have birth-DAYS, but birthday weekends.

       I was off duty all weekend, and as we say in bluegrass it was a large time.  The only ground rule was she got to set the agenda.   Seeing as she was the Birthday Girl, it was only fitting.  So, Friday night we started with a chick flick. (remind me to tell you about “The Mirror has Two Faces.”) 

        Saturday was the big show at the Senior Center with Guitar-ed and Feathered.  They all did wear black slacks, but dang if they didn’t choose fuchsia for their blouses.  I got off the hook, though, when I said my black on tan print shirt accessorized better with my complexion.  I had no idea what it meant – I read it on one of my lady readers’ weblog.  That seemed to impress the band,  and they went along with my chosen attire. 

       We went to the warm up room and I could tell right away this was gonna be a different sort of gig.  For one thing they were nervous, like a bunch of kids, and my guys have gotten over all that.  It was like way back when we first started out with all the nervous anticipation- made you feel downright young.  The atmosphere was quite unfamiliar- I’m not sure what those ladies wore for perfume but I’m positive it wasn’t essence of chewing tobacco, sweat and Old Spice.

        All ’em did just fine; both the lead and harmony work were on pitch, and they even started and ended together, an essential performance prerequisite.  As a tune rocks along, you can tangle it up some and get by, but if you wreck the ending people don’t forget it.  Marfar did extra good on the bass, and they let me sing one- it was a variety show, and I was sure enough that for them.    

        By the end of the show they indeed did have ’em all smiling.  My wife has some special way with elderly gentlemen- it never fails.  One of the seniors had been a bass player for Mac Wiseman on a swing through the Carolinas in the 50’s.  He dug my wife’s playing, and came up after the show to tell us a bunch of old tales.  Bluegrass people are about the same everywhere you go.

        That night we went to hear the River Band.  Somehow Sammy Shelton found out about Marfar and did a bar of Happy Birthday for her.  For those of y’all outside the bluegrass world, you just gotta hear Sammy- the cat rocks the banjo.  One thing even a lot of bluegrass people don’t know know is he is also a very fine electric Tele guitar man, and sits in with a number of country and rock bands when not on tour with the River Band.  (This is why he had to let his hair grow out so long.)  Neither a little rock ‘n roll or long hair bother the bluegrass crowd, though.  They are very tolerant people, especially if a man can pick like Sammy.

        Sunday we slept in (we had subs lined up for our church band gig) and ate cold pizza then went shopping first thing.  They had some fine specials out at the mall, and I got her the present I told you about- a GPS that talks to you.  It was her birthday present, but I figured it would save me some trouble down the bluegrass road.  You know men- they never want to stop and ask for directions!

        The whole thing inspired me enough to go be a doctor for another week.  Happy Birthday Weekend Ms. Marfar!

Dr. B

Bomb Shelter Co-ordinates

January 27, 2008

        I got my wife a new GPS for her car, and it is quite a gadget.  We decided to try it out, and plugged in the Bomb Shelter to see how it would react.

        I guess the world is closing in on us bluegrassers ’cause the thing made a pretty good run at it.  It got close, but then even its’ marvelous little computer brain began to get confused.

        “Turn left,” it said.  “No, right.”  Then, TURN RIGHT,”  followed by “re-calculate, RECALCULATE!!”

        Then it resigned itself to the same as we have said for years:

        “You can’t get there from here.”

        I take some solace in that.  For one thing, the military came up with all those co-ordinates anyway, so I have to assume the Bomb Shelter is a low priority target.  More than that, it remains a place where it is socially acceptable for me and all my bluegrass friends to be a bit contrary.  We have to be that to be bluegrass, and even the encroachment of all things few-fangled ain’t got us yet.

        I will tell you though, for negotiating one’s way through the rest of the modern world, the thing is right handy.  When it came time to go home, we plugged in our suburban address, and it was like a horse headed for the barn.  It delivered us right down to the last turn into the driveway.  

        I reckon come Monday I’ll go back to work and re-join the conventional world, at least for a week anyway.

Dr. B


When You’re Smiling

January 24, 2008

        My wife’s band’s theme song is “When You’re Smiling.”  If they ever decide to choose a different tune, I might have to fuss, because it is so appropriate.  They play music for exactly the right reason- to have fun, and make people smile.  They are very good at it.

        Marfar is the ringleader, too.  When I was a young doc, I was so serious.  I thought if I read enough books and studied hard enough, no one in the County would die.  Of course that was too ambitious a goal.  I am still very serious about doctoring, but I’ve had to temper ambition with reality, and try to keep on smiling.  Marfar has always seen to that.  One of her few complaints about me was to say, “You aren’t laughing enough!”

        One of the things I loved about my wife right from the get-go was her laugh.  I’m not a good enough writer to capture it on paper, but right at the end there is a little lilt that makes it impossible for a fellow to be in a bad mood. 

        If you read “Birds of a Bluegrass Feather,” you know we have two tropical conure birds in our home, and she has them in on the act.  The birds talk a little, but as with babies, I have some trouble with translation, though my wife communicates with them with ease.  

        Two things the birds imitate are clear even to a man.  One is the door bell chime- they have it perfected.  The other is my wife’s laugh.  Birds can only learn what they hear all day, and they can mimic her with uncanny accuracy.  (If I were home all day, I guess they’d sound like a mandolin.)

        It is all good for a sometimes too serious doctor.  It ain’t possible to walk by a bird, have it laugh just like your wife, and hold onto a bad attitude.  I think she trained them like that so when she was not home, I’d have to keep things in perspective even in her absence.

        My wife is so smart, she’s even got me fond of those dadburn birds.  All I can say is she’s got the right theme song- keep on smiling.

Dr. B     

Medical Study

January 20, 2008

        If you want to be a doctor, you better like reading books.  I spent most of this evening curled up with a good one on traumatic bony injuries of all kinds.  Sounds like a romantic evening, huh?

        When you read all the ways an inebriated young male can ruin his life by plunging headlong into five feet of water, it does give you pause for thought.  Wonder what does possess a human being to do such a thing?  I dunno.

        I know I should be more serious; the injuries I read about are very sobering indeed.  As a family doc, you don’t see them every day, but you hate it every time.  Tonight, though, I’ve read so long I’m about to get giddy. 

        A redneck joke comes to mind, and since I’m a redneck I guess it is not too politically incorrect for me to tell it.

        What are the famous last words of a redneck boy?

              HEY,  Y’ALL!  WATCH THIS!!

     Sorry guys.  See you around Wednesday for more heart trouble thoughts, and I’ll try to get serious again.  And if anyone in your family has had an injury like this, I’m not making fun, but just trying to cope. 

        When I think back on my teenage years, I feel mighty fortunate to have gotten out intact.

Dr. B

Breaking News

January 17, 2008

        We have snow.  Folks, here in the County that is news.

        Now I love the South in general, and N.C. in particular, as much as any human being ever blessed to tromp around down here, but I have to tell you I don’t understand why snow gives us such a conniption fit, but it does. 

        From some of the pictures I’ve seen of the English Professor’s stomping ground, my bet is he walked to school in snow ten times as deep as what we have today, and uphill both ways.

        For us, though, a collective chaos sets in.  Schools close, there is a run on bread and milk at the Piggly Wiggly, and conservative old doctors search attics for  lost sleds with rusty runners.  Even the professional news people get downright giddy, and don toboggans and scarfs to go out and scoop the news from every decent drift they can capture with a camera.

        All this is well ingrained behavior- imprinted from childhood.  My mom never had the radio on in the mornings, so when I heard it blaring away downstairs, I knew it had snowed before I looked out of the window.  There was a local AM radio celebrity all the kids loved.  When Mr. Hughie’s baritone boomed out the news, “Boys and girls they’ll be no school in the County today,” a collective baby boomer cheer went up in every household.   

        I’ve always kept a four wheel drive vehicle in the family in case of an emergency, so I can’t wait to see if it goes into gear O.K.  It has been three years since I’ve used it.  We are a modern office nowadays, though, and going in on a late schedule.  I’m afraid it’s gonna all melt before I can try it out.

        Hey before it is all over, you are going to know all the doctor secrets.  We used to have one old doc who fretted every time it snowed.  Once I asked him why, and he said, “I’m afraid my patients won’t be able to get in and they’ll figure out they don’t need me.”  I always say the best Doc knows he should be out earning an honest living, but loves practicing medicine too much to quit.   I’d better get on into work, I do still enjoy it. 

        See ya.  Marfar wants a snowman before I go in.  There ain’t enough to scrape one together, but I’m gonna try.  Only the best for her.

        I’ll be back when it melts (around Saturday am) with more on acute illness and chest pain.

Dr. B

Doctor Meeting

January 11, 2008

        I went to a very fine conference last night hosted by a famous institution in Tennessee.  The purpose was to educate us docs on how to improve our skills in listening to and talking to our patients.  I’ll bet you guys are glad to hear that!  We all can stand to improve.

        It came at an apropos time, as tomorrow I plan my first post on “How Country Docs Think.”  I hope you will offer some feed-back as you read through this series with me.  I am on my last leg on my doctor journey, and I believe my readers might help me jump up a notch in my skills by your constructive criticism.

        My doctor friend from that famous Tennessee institution might enjoy the exchange too, so this gives you the opportunity to send your thoughts to a nationally recognized authority on doc/patient relationships, if via a Country Doc.  (I won’t edit your comments too bad- just no cuss words guys, I promised my agent a “G” rated site.)

        So, with that, the series on “How Country Docs Think,” begins with a post first thing in the morning.  I hope you find it informative, and learn a little about docs.  It would only be fair.  Just as I have learned much from my patients over the years, I learn from my readers with each topic we discuss.

-Dr. B

Medical Mini-mini post

January 7, 2008

        Several have asked, and I plan the first “How Country Docs Think” post Saturday.  In a few days, I am going to tell all about a bluegrass bachelor party.  (Don’t worry- it isn’t too rough- still PG rated.)  Tis a wild Monday of doctoring- no time to post right now- just keeping you up to date.

-Dr. B

Medical Mini-Post

January 4, 2008

        I have thought about Ted Lehmann’s post on Dr. Groopman’s book “How Doctors Think” for several days.  Dr. Groopman’s work has been considered quite important in medical circles, (as well as by the rest of the country) and Ted Lehmann did an excellent review.  After thinking it over, I did not see a way to do it justice by a response of a single post, so I decided to do a short series on how Dr. Groopman’s concepts apply to everyday country doctor life.

        I hope you will bear with me.  I promised medical and bluegrass fiction, and instead I’m gonna turn serious for a few days and talk about work.  Still, it will be much like fiction, as I will change all patient names and enough clinical detail to make the situations unrecognizable.  As much as I think some of their stories could be instructive, I even more strongly desire to protect their privacy.  

        Just so I don’t go and lose you altogether, I’ll sprinkle in some local color and a few other mini-posts as I go.  And, I want to tell you more about my golfing preacher soon, maybe in the next post. 

        The medical series may not have as much appeal, or be as much entertainment, but think of it like reading a medical journal.  Just when you are bored out of your brain, a passage comes along that might help one of your people, and then you are glad you read.

        While I am at it, I’m gonna break another rule, too.  I promised posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but mama (what people call their wife of more than thirty years) wants to go out to eat, and see a chick flick, so I’m all about that for now.  Maybe that’s why I get along with her so good.  A chick flick every so often won’t hurt a fellow, and makes for a much kinder and gentler life than if all your companions are middle aged guys who chew tobacco and watch rassling on T.V. 

        So with that, I’m gonna leave the weblog idle for a couple days, watch some chick flicks, and get it touch with my softer side, but I’ll be back.  And, it’ll make me a better Doc, too.  Takes all the meanness out of you, you know.

-Dr. B

More on Ms. Claus

December 27, 2007

        I kinda hated to see Christmas pass on by this time.  All the kids were in, and everybody was well. (No broken fibulas this year.)  Ms. Claus found me a couple of old books I had been looking for and it was more special than any material item she coulda ever bought.

       A number of readers expressed interest in Ms. Claus, so I thought I’d take a minute to tell you of her.  She is a doctor, too, but her field is in education.  She is retired from it now, but for years she was a Middle School counselor.  Believe me, that is a tough crowd to work, but she did well with ’em.  

        We respected the privacy of the kids we were involved with, and did not talk over their cases at home, but I could get a pretty good idea which ones had dealings with her.  Whenever I’d have a kid at the office who was up for his Eagle, I’d ask if they knew Ms. Bibey.  They would have a puzzled look, and you could see them mentally perusing the cerbral storage files.  “No sir, I don’t believe I do,” was the usual response.

        On the other hand, I’d get some street tough kid with a tattoo and a nose ring, and ask the same question.  They’d just light up.  “You Miss Bibey’s old man?!”  I understood their enthusiasm.  I kinda liked her too, and it got me in good with ’em every time.

        One time she found an abandoned cat at school, and against all rules and regulations snuck it into her office to nurse it back to health.  The kids called the stray “Buttermilk Biscuit,” after its nutmeg/dirt brown color and a predilection for the Harnett Middle School milk and biscuits they raised it on.  Some of those youn’uns were tough as pine knots, but they all wanted a chance to be a part of raising ole Buttermilk, and would sneak down to Ms. Bibey’s office to feed that alley cat.  I guess they identified with the cat’s circumstances, but I was amazed how the experience brought those kids out.  And too, I think all that experience working with troubled youth gave my wife just the right background to raise me. 

        Of course, it was against all regulations.  When the cat got a little bigger and the principal discovered it, we brought it home.  It lived a long, fat and sassy life.  Those kids talked about saving that cat for years- sometimes I wonder about too many regulations.

        Better sign off and read some doctor books and head out for work.  

        Miss Bibey’s old man has a big gig coming up Friday.  I’ll  try to tell you about it this weekend. 

                                                     -Dr. B