We all have, in our lives, people with whom we have learned, grown, experienced and become. It’s only a natural human concept. We experience, by the association, by the teaching, by our observing, and by our own trying efforts. I remember these people fairly vividly and revere them, usually quietly in my own mind. Elsewhere here, I hope I have named several, but I shall add here a few more. Roy C Tasker, PhD was my biology professor in college and my ….?…. He shared more than any other, my love of biology. His lectures were always enthralling and his memory and recounts of things biologic, stimulating. He nurtured me and I appreciated it. At the end of college when Hulda Magalhaes told me I was not doctor material, he supported me. I got to see him twice after I graduated and we had good talks. He even arranged for me to have my first (of 2) Golden Spider monkeys. Fannie was the first, and what a learning experience. I was literally forced to bond with her. Even trying to peel her off my shoulder was met with the loudest imaginable screeches and no small volume of nice yellow spider poo. Spider monkeys tails are prehensile and you can’t imgine threading a diaper on to one. But I did. Frequently. One could swear that the tail had eyes as it grabbed everything it got near, often with disastrous results. She was so cute. I got her right near the end of school so I didn’t have to take her with me to class but I sure would have if she had arrived earlier. This was back when owning a monkey was unusual but not necessarily frowned upon as it is now. I can still remember walking into the largest pet store in downtown Philadelphia and seeing a pair of baby Orangutans for sale…at $10,000.00. Probably a good thing I didn’t have that kind of money. Unfortunately, I didn’t read or learn everything I could have/should have…and she got mild cage paralysis, so I gave her to a zoo. A few years later, after my residency, I got another, Nikki and kept her till old age made me farm her out. I can remember being in surgery in Tampa and getting a call that my monkey was loose, so I’d have to hurry home and call her down off a neighborhood roof.
I will mention Dr. Harold Heine, professor of Chemistry. He was an ok person and was definitely on the side of chem majors as demonstrated by the time he called me over to him and held a very small vial of something under my nose and asked me what it was. I had no idea, and he howled…”And you want to be a doctor and don’t even know what makes shit stink”. Ah well. He was a good and interesting professor, I was just a less than good (to me) chemist. I loved and aced qualitative and quantitative chemistry but Organic chemistry totally threw me. I passed it, barely.
My next and most important mentor was Ray Rooney D.O.. I’ve posted elsewhere that Ray had taken a fellowship/residency with a Dr. Leksell in Sweden and he came to Bay View Hospital like a breath of fresh air. He was cocky and polished and vulgar and spiritual. He smoked cigars on occasion and I’ve seen him smoking a cigar and putting on a plaster cast at the same time. He was very secure in himself and instilled this in others. He met the Shepards head on and was soon doing C-sections the (to me) new and modern way…low transverse section. After researching it, I had to agree wholeheartedly and wondered why Richard still did a midline hystermyotomy to get into the uterus. The better part was when Ray allowed me to do the surgery myself while he watched and BSed with the OR crew. Louise Robinson was one of the best OR tech/nurses I’ve ever experienced and was a big help in my training. Humor, in medicine, and in life, has always been so important and having humor in the OR always helped. Of course under the proper circumstances. Morbid death related and sadness was treated with reverence always. I’m having difficulty explaining this.
There was an orthopedic surgeon Bill something at Bay View who did laminectomies for ruptured disc. He always did them with the patient on their side. Obviously this was the way he was taught, but obviously he had never considered any other position. So, enter Ray Rooney who did his laminectomies prone and everything changed. For the first time, I, as the assistant, could see what the hell was going on deep in that hole. For the first time I felt the entire procedure was logical and justified. I saw the pulsations of the dura. Something I had been taught about in med school, but never really believed and still have trouble understanding the mechanism. There were actually visiting doctors and a couple professors that stated they could feel the spinal fluid pulse…thru the sutures or by the sutures in the skull. If you’ve ever seen sutures in the skull…you would understand my disbelief. These doctors treated mental illness and debilitating diseases by manipulating the skull. I still wonder but never question.
Thru Ray Rooney, to the sometimes expressed resentment of others, I learned so much medicine and philosophy and anatomy and physics and life. He went with me to extracurricular seminars and we learned together. He enjoyed Scotch, something I still can’t understand in Anyone. Even after my residency was over, he joined me at Walter Reed Hospital for the trauma symposium for a week every year for 5 yrs.
Speaking of which, when I was senior resident the Vietnam war was going on and the resident behind me, Joe Biggs D.O., was drafted out of his residency. He had 3 kids and I had one. I don’t know how the logistics worked but I was allowed to finish my residency which was only a few months. After I was in Clarion a couple months, I got a draft notice and had to go to Pittsburgh for the military physical etc. It was 3 days. A couple weeks after I got back, I got a letter from the military. I was deemed exempt by virtue of physician patient ratio of the area called Appalachia, the economically depressed region. As a trade-off I was required to go to Walter Reed Army hospital in Washington D.C. for a week, every year for 5 years to sit in on the Gary P. Wratten Trauma Symposium. Gary was the guy responsible for MASH hospitals in the war. This was an experience that gave me so much more knowledge. Here I was, suit and tie, surrounded by high brass, generals and colonels and more. I learned the easy way, what the poor guys in the MASH hospitals learned the hard way. I learned a lot. And, at the same time, I got to experience a lot of D.C.. Most of my learning from this point on, was by frequent seminars and conferences and by reading and practicing. The hard way. I hope I can put it into perspective for someone to appreciate.
Today..7/25/11, I read in our Kingsport times that Walter Reed Hospital is closing. Probably a shame but one has to know the history before judging and I’m sure that a better hospital with more modern equipment will be the result. One thing constant about change, is…change.
I can’t believe I’ve left out a significant person in my rantings….and now wonder if I have already written about her and now in my addled mind, can’t remember. Maude Campbell taught English with such a passion. I remember feeling so embarrassed when she mocked me for not knowing “canonized” and I said it was being shot by a canon. Seemed pretty logical to me. I was not that informed about Catholic procedures at that time. Hell, I wasn’t even allowed to date a Catholic girl. Dad said they were all crazy…they had huge families that they couldn’t afford and made them eat fish on fridays. Heh. He didn’t like it when I came home from college one weekend and told him that Lutherans were like rich Catholics that couldn’t speak Latin. And now, my 4th wife…is Catholic. Only natural. So, Maude or Maudey as we called her was a prim and proper lady, always dressed very well with makeup and a touch of perfume. She did her darndest to make us good and proper citizens. Sally Skinner will always remember her dislike of gum popping. I will Never forget her coming to see me as a patient when I got out of my residency. I was very proud and couldn’t even think of charging her for the visit. She was responsible for quite a number of doctors and dentists.