Bryson City Seasons — Hospital Politics (Part 1)

This is from the thirteenth 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.


Like many quarterbacks, Gary hated to run the ball. Quarterbacks are made to throw the ball. Most of them don’t like to hit or be hit. As the fourth quarter began, we had the ball, and thankfully Gary had not needed to run much. But as our offensive line began to tire, with each ensuing play the defense began to get closer and closer to him.

On one particular play, Gary was forced out of the pocket and took off running toward our sidelines. As he began to cut up the field, two defenders simultaneously hit him low and hard. One grabbed Gary by the ankles and the other hit him at the knees. I saw his right knee snap in at a dangerous angle. As he collapsed and hit the ground, I could hear him scream.

A collective groan went up from the crowd, which then became suddenly silent. By instinct, I was sprinting out to Gary, followed closely by Coach Dietz and Rick. I was certain the medial collateral ligament of his knee was severely stretched and maybe even torn. Certainly a dislocated kneecap or a fracture was possible. By the time we got to his side, he was writhing on the ground, with the exception of his right leg, which he was holding very still. Gary was moaning in pain.

As I knelt at his side, I said, “Gary, this is Dr. Larimore. What are you feeling?”

“Doc, I think my leg’s broken. I can’t move it.”

Rick was squatting next to me. Our eyes met, and he nodded, indicating I should proceed. My three years of training and experience as a sideline physician for the Duke football team during my residency taught me that the easiest time to examine an injured joint is on the field immediately after the injury. Waiting even a few moments to get the athlete to the sideline can risk the formation of joint fluid, swelling, or muscle spasms, making an exam more difficult.

“Gary, I’m going to do a quick exam. Just stay on your back and take some deep breaths in and out.” My hands quickly palpated the knee and surrounding tissues. He was most tender over the middle of the inside of the knee—although my fingers could feel the medial collateral ligament, and it felt intact. It was not completely torn! A quick check of the cruciate ligaments showed they were intact. The lateral collateral ligament was fine, as was the patella and the thigh and calf muscles. With his leg extended, I took my fist and struck the bottom of his shoe. He did not grimace. If he had a fracture, that maneuver should have hurt. I was delighted it did not!

Then I gently flexed the injured knee and put stress on the medial collateral ligament, the tissue band that ran across the inside of the knee joint. He threw back his head, gritting his teeth in pain and moaning as I did the test. At the same time, the joint opened up ever so slightly. Immediately I knew the diagnosis. Had it been a mild, first-degree sprain, the test would have hurt but the joint line would not have opened up. Had it been a severe, third-degree sprain, or a completely torn ligament, it would likely not have hurt but would have even more easily and widely opened up.

“Rick, it feels like a second-degree MCL sprain—but not a bad one. His ACL and PCL are okay. I can’t tell about the meniscus, but I suspect it’s fine.” I looked up at the coach. “Boyce, we’ll need a couple of the linemen to help get him off the field. I don’t want any weight on this knee. He’ll be out the rest of the game.” I could see the coach’s disappointment. He and I knew that the backup quarterback was young and had no game experience.

On the sideline, I placed ice and an Ace wrap on Gary’s knee. His mom and dad came down to the sideline, and I told them, “He’s stretched and partially torn a ligament in his knee. I’d like to take him to the hospital for an X-ray—just to be sure the ligament’s not torn off the bone.”

I sat down by Gary. “Son, let’s go ahead and get to the hospital.”

“Doc, can’t I stay till the end of the game?”

“Gary, it’s almost over. The game’s well in hand. And I’d like to get the X-rays before there’s too much swelling. Also, if we wait too long, the traffic may hold us up.”

He nodded.

Rick looked at me. “Why don’t you go with him. I’ll let Coach Dietz know, and I’ll cover the rest of the game and come over to the hospital later.”

“Sounds good, Rick. Thanks.”

Don and Billy covered most of the games for Swain County EMS. They helped me get Gary on a gurney, and we rolled him off the field. As Gary was loaded into the ambulance, Joe Benny and Preston were at my side. I explained the injury to them.

“He gonna need surgery?” Preston asked.

“I need to X-ray him to be sure. But I’m fairly certain he won’t.”

“Doc,” asked Joe Benny, “you mind if’n I let ’em know in the press box? It’ll put folks’ minds at ease.”

“Sounds good to me, Joe Benny.”

He turned to leave, and Preston leaned toward me. “Doc, be careful.”

I looked at him, cocking my head. “About what?”

He looked around suspiciously and then turned back to me. “Be careful of Doc Mitchell. He’ll wanna take this boy to the OR. If he does, Gary’ll be out for the rest of the season.”

“Thanks for the warning, Preston. But I’ve got no reason to recommend any sort of unnecessary surgery. I’ll tell you that for sure.”

“Just be careful, son.” He patted my arm and left.



  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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