Janet Sheridan: National Doctors’ Day observed
March 29, 2018
I sat between my parents in the family jeep and listened to them talk about Lake Shore's struggling crops.
"Mom and Dad are more worried about sugar beets than me," I thought, "I'm going to Spanish Fork to have my throat cut, and nobody cares!"
Earlier that morning when I entered the kitchen for breakfast, Dad sang out, "Hey, Janny, today's your big day, huh?" as though having my tonsils chopped off like the head of a chicken was a festive event; and Mom had insisted I bathe — on Wednesday! I protested until I realized she probably wanted me to look clean in my casket; then, I cried.
Carolyn told me to quit sniveling. Barbara said she'd rather go to town than to kindergarten; did I want to trade places? And, Bob said his friend, Mike, had his tonsils removed and vomited blood, gallons of blood, for two weeks. Then, my carefree siblings ran to catch the bus, and I climbed in the jeep to be driven to my doom.
Forty minutes later, Dr. Moody felt my throat with cold fingers. Next, he used a small light and a tongue depressor to study my tonsils so long I gagged. Finally, cupping his hand under my chin, he said, "Janet, I think your mom and dad should take you home. Your tonsils look normal. We'll reconsider if you get tonsillitis again, but it would be a shame to remove tonsils as beautiful as yours." Then, he patted my shoulder and chatted with Mom and Dad about sugar beets.
Every time I entered Dr. Moody's small office, I worried about him poking my finger for blood, making me have a penicillin shot, telling me I required stitches or diagnosing polio. But I liked him. And my parents trusted him to care for their many children, even when doing so required a home visit.
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Throughout my life, male and female doctors of various sizes, ages and personalities have helped safeguard my health. During my youth, nurses in uniforms and starched caps assisted doctors who wore stethoscopes over crisp, white jackets while they thumped, listened, peered, probed, prescribed, instructed and reassured, and I avoided looking at the instruments arrayed for their use.
When I was old enough to make my own appointments, doctors, now dressed in business attire, recommended an annual physical, ordered blood tests, fussed over my sinuses, said my headaches were stress induced, diagnosed my rash-prone skin as sensitive to something and introduced me to the wonders of mammograms and colonoscopies.
Now, my doctors look as young as my former ninth-grade students and frequently appear in casual attire that makes me feel overdressed for the occasion. They question me, fix me, refer me, tell me my symptoms are often age-related, prescribe pills I will take until death do us part and cheer my efforts to be healthy.
As I talk with my doctors, I admire their ability to ask precise questions and focus their skill and years of training on the vague symptoms I describe. I also appreciate them when they talk to me like I matter, whether they're delivering good news or bad.
Dr. Moody took care of my mother until she moved to Wyoming, where another physician, Dr. Gee, took equally good care of her through the news, in her 70s, that her heart had worn out. She died late at night in a hospital with my brother, JL, at her side. When he left to notify the rest of us, JL saw Dr. Gee standing in the hall next to Mom's room. He was leaning against a wall, crying.
They cried together.
Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at auntbeulah.com on the first and 15th of every month.
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