Bryson City Seasons — A Tale of Two Surgeons (Part 1)

This is from the sixteenth 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.


I didn’t arrive at Mitch’s farm until late afternoon. Earlier in the week we had crossed paths during morning rounds at the hospital. “Walt,” he muttered, not even looking up from the chart he was scribbling on, “you on call this weekend?”

“No sir, I’m not.”

“You in town?”

Now my suspicions were aroused. The older physicians very seldom took vacation. It just wasn’t part of who they were. Therefore, they were critical of Rick and me both being willing to take time away from town and seeming to enjoy doing so. I believe it was Dr. Mathieson who once asked me, “You really enjoy taking time off, don’t you?”

We did. So with a furrowed brow I responded to Mitch. “I am in town this weekend.” Then I smiled and continued. “Couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be.”

He looked up and sarcastically replied, “Yeah,” and continued his scribbling. When done, he even more quickly scribbled his signature and closed the chart, placing it back in the rolling chart rack.

“Well, I’m gonna be up at the farm this weekend and wondered if you’d want to come up and go fishin’ with me.”

Dumbfounded, I paused for a moment and then said, “I think I’d like to. Let me check with Barb, and I’ll let you know.”

I think that would be nice,” Barb told me when I asked her about going fishing that weekend. “Nancy and I were planning to take the kids and go shopping in Dillsboro. You go ahead.”

So I let Mitch know I’d be there. To tell you the truth, I was looking forward to being with him away from the office.

Mitch had two farms. One was his dairy farm on the banks of the Tuckaseigee River just south of town. The other was a smaller farm up Johnson Branch. It was the latter farm I was traveling to that particular Saturday afternoon.

The farm was mostly wooded with a small amount of pastureland that contained a beautiful pond. Just above the pond was a small cabin. Most folks in town didn’t know about this farm— and for Mitch it was his place to go to escape.

When I pulled up to the cabin, I could see his pickup truck parked around the back of the cabin. I thought this was probably his way of keeping folks who traveled the road—and who might recognize his truck—from knowing he was there.

I got out of the car and walked around the cabin. I could see Mitch sitting on a log on the shore of the pond.

“Hey, Mitch!” I yelled.

“Hello, Walt!” he exclaimed as he turned around. “Come sit a spell. Won’t be time to fish until the sun is down a bit more.”

I sat on a second log bench next to his. I took a deep breath as we sat in silence. I took in the trees, just beginning to change colors, and the air beginning to get a bit nippy as evening fell.

“This is such a peaceful place,” I finally observed, breaking the silence.

“I’ve always loved it. Just don’t have enough time to get up here.”

I nodded.

“Walt, seems like you’re gettin’ settled here. Folks seem to be takin’ a likin’ to ya.”

“I’m grateful for that, Mitch. You and Ray have made us feel welcome.”

Mitch smiled. “You remember the first night you were on call? You remember Shitake Sam?”

It was my turn to smile. “Yep. He broke his ankle, and I wanted to take him to OR. Louise wanted me to put him in a skintight cast. I had never heard of such a thing and thought she was nuts. She had me call you, and you set me straight.”

“Worked out, didn’t it?” Mitch chuckled.

“Yes sir. It did. But I tell you, I wasn’t sure it would.”

“You know, Walt, there’s one form of medicine—I call it the medicine most doctors practice. That’s what you were taught in school. Then there’s medicine as it used to be practiced. Now, I tell you, most of the old medicine needs to flow into history. We’ve got better ways now. But some of it’s still good, even if most docs have forgotten it. There are things I learned as a doctor in the Army I still use today—no one’s come up with any better technique. But most young surgeons don’t have a clue how to do it this way. I think that’s a shame.”

Mitch took a long sip out of a cup of ice water sitting by his side. “I didn’t offer you anything to drink. Can I get you something?”

“No sir, I’m just fine.”

Mitch sat back. “Then,” he continued, “then there’s medicine as it will be practiced.”

I wondered where he was going with this discussion.

“There’s so much yet to be discovered. New ways of doing things. New approaches. New techniques.” He took another swig of water.

“Walt, don’t be satisfied just to do things the way they taught you at Duke. Keep your thinkin’ cap on. Look for new ways to do old things. If you do, practicin’ medicine will never be boring. And it’ll be a lot more satisfying.”

I thought there might be some truth in what he was saying, but I was still bothered by the potential risk of this approach.

“Mitch, couldn’t folks be hurt if we just experiment on them?”

“Yep, it could happen. But folks can be hurt if we don’t experiment when it’s called for.”

“How do you tell the difference?”


  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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