Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Good Day

It's been only three days into the week, and I've already had my fill of the weird. The patient with a flea infestation, who both doesn't seem aware she has them, and went to the Tammy Faye Baker School of Cosmetology; the near centenarian who didn't know where she was, why she was here, or what the hell we were doing to her, getting her next ten years of pacemaker power; the female patient with more tattoos than most bikers will ever consider getting. But today, one little jewel shone through, even though his family was enough to make Mr. Rodgers consider going postal. An older man in his eighties, here for procedures to help diagnose his leg pain. A short word by the patient, "Uff-da" on being stuck with a needle, led to a question by the physician about being from a particular ethnic group. Which led the patient to say he wasn't, but his wife was. Which led the doc to note his wife was descended from that group, and that her parents came over after WWII, after her teenage father had spent years avoiding conscription by the Germans. Which led me to note the patient had been twenty in 1943, and saying he was probably somewhat familiar with the situation the doc's in-laws were facing. Leading to his Army Air Corps years in '43 to '46, working on Mitchell bombers, and an even better story of the two Master Sergeants, a bottle of whiskey, a bet in a bar, and a B-25 that had it's landing gear punched through its wings and nose by the end of the night.

These are my favorite patients; reading their personal accounts of their service fed my love of military history growing up in the '70s and '80s. I hate to think of them fading away so quickly.


ebd10 said...

I thought you might find this interesting.

MauserMedic said...


Thanks for the link; I've been fortunate enough to run into several old vets, including one retired cav Colonel who told me about riding on horseback from Camp Dodge up to Ft McCoy a few times. Listening to their stories is a great experience.

Ride Fast said...

You just never know.

That old codger tottering along with his cane or walker may have done some amazing things.

I worked with a man in his 70's who did part time work for a little cash and adventure. He was a Sea-Bee on Guadalcanal fixing the runways before the island was secure. Amazing stories.

A man fairly high up in a company I worked for 25 years ago was a Hitler Youth during War 2. He built and rebuilt dummy oil refineries for my Uncle Bill to bomb from his B-17. Small world sometimes.

ebd10 said...

I worked as an ortho tech for a couple of years. Our office had numerous WWII vets coming in for one thing or another. Coincidentally, it was right about the time that Private Ryan opened at the theaters. Many a conversation was brought about because of that movie. One of the other people I remember is a guy that served as a glider pilot in the CBI theater in the same unit as Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester on the Addams Family TV show)

MauserMedic said...

Ride Fast, ebd10;

There's been many times over the last several years were I wish I had the time to sit down with the vets I've spoken with, and get them on video telling some of their stories. Hearing it straight from the vets adds so much more to the story over reading it.

ebd10 said...

Same here. The glider pilot came in for wound care. Somehow, we got to talking about the military. I mentioned that I had been airborne and he talked about the gliders. It was then that I found out about his service as a glider pilot.

The next week, he came in again and was running a little late, so he went right to treatment. His wife approached me and asked me, "What did you say to him last week?" I told her that we had discussed our respective military service. Hearing this, she related how, when the family came over for Sunday dinner that week, he talked for 4 hours about his time during the war. I replied that I thought that was pretty cool. She looked at me and said, "You don't understand, I've been married to him for 48 years and he's NEVER said anything to me about the war!"

Sometimes, listening is the best thing to do.