Bryson City Seasons — Chicken Pops (Part 1)

This is from the eleventh chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Seasons, which is the sequel to Bryson City TalesI hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week, and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.


It was the end of the office day. Mitch was on call and had been called to the hospital to see an emergency. Ray had taken the day off, and I was finishing up the day’s paperwork when Helen, in her usual dour manner, approached me with two charts in hand. I did not sense that good news was arriving.

“Mitch just called. He’s in OR and wonders if you’d make a home visit for him.”

Without waiting for an answer, she gently tossed the charts in my direction and continued. “It’s the Nichols twins up Toot Holler. The mom, Sarah, thinks the kids have what she calls ‘chicken pops.’ They’re thinking of having a ‘pox party’ and just want Dr. Mitchell to confirm the diagnosis. But since he’s busy and you’re not, perhaps you’d help him out.”

I was a bit disquieted by both her rather rude approach and her insinuations that a difficult afternoon in the office was less busy and less important than an afternoon in OR. Quite frankly, I preferred the time in OR to office time any day. The patients who were asleep could not groan, grouse, grumble, or gripe. In addition, the surgical patients almost always got better. You weren’t rushed in OR, and you felt the luxury of completing one task at a time. In the office, you usually had several patients waiting to be seen, charts and phone calls between every visit, prescriptions to sign, and Helen.

“Why would I make a home visit for chicken pox?” I inquired. “Can’t they just run over here to the office?”

Helen looked at me like I had a chicken sitting on my head. “And why would I want to have kids with chicken pox in my waiting room? Why would I want everyone in the waiting room exposed? Don’t you know that chicken pox can lead to shingles? I don’t know about you, Dr. Larimore, but I don’t want my patients exposed against their will.”

“Helen,” I tried to reason, “first of all, we’re through seeing patients. There’s no one in the waiting room. Secondly, if there were someone in the waiting room, couldn’t we just let the Nichols family come in the back door?”

She cocked her head at me and scowled. I was sure there was a bit of color rising in her cheeks but couldn’t be certain. She applied her facial makeup fairly heavily—especially the blush.

“Dr. Mitchell says that the pox virus, just like the measles or mumps virus, can spread through the air and can be blown across an entire exam room with one deep breath or sneeze. He never allows that to happen in his office. Why, there’s just no telling how long those nasty viruses will stay in the air.”

She drew herself up, obviously proud to be teaching what she still considered me to be—the newcomer.

I thought I might try to bring Helen’s medical knowledge into the twentieth century, but before I could speak, she continued. “Besides, all the doctors in town make home calls for such sicknesses. It’s just the way it’s done. And Dr. Mitchell is expecting you to do this for him—since he’s doing other important things.”

She turned to leave.

“Helen . . .”

She whipped around, fists clinched. Whoa! I thought to myself. Is she going to slug me, or what?
“Helen, I was just wondering.”

“Wondering what?” she hissed through pursed lips.

I thought, If I didn’t know she was menopausal, I’d swear she was in the throes of PMS. Fortunately, I thought it better not to mention these musings but instead asked, “Where’s Toot Holler? I haven’t a clue.”

She relaxed for a moment, sensing she had won the encounter. I think I may even have seen a trace of a smile.

“Well, when you leave the office, just head up the Road to Nowhere. The first right is Toot Holler Road. At the gap, just as you start heading down into Deep Creek Valley, you’ll see a small dirt road on your left. Their house is up about a half a mile. At the end of that road is where Dr. Eldridge lives. He’s one of our two town dentists. But he’s been here the longest.”

“Yes, yes, I’ve gotten to know him at the football games. He’s the PA announcer at the stadium for all the home games. Nice fellow.”

She turned to leave. I finished my chart work and then grabbed my trusty black bag.



  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1)(Part 2)
  29. The Home Birth (Part1)(Part 2); (Part 3)
  30. The Showdown (Part1)(Part 2); (Part 3)
  31. The Initiation (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)
  32. Home at Last (Part 1); (Part 2); (Part 3)

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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