Bryson City Seasons — The Bobcat Attacks (Part 1)

This is from the fourteenth 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.


Rick arrived at the ER just as I finished the paperwork. “How’d it go?” he asked.
Louise was milling around, so I whispered, “How ’bout a cup of coffee?”

Rick smiled, and we walked to the lounge and each poured a cup. I explained what had happened and then confessed, “Rick, I feel like I should have just been straightforward with Louise. Cutting that boy’s knee open would be malpractice. He doesn’t need anything but an arthroscopy. And I suspect he’ll be back in uniform in a few short weeks—certainly before the end of the season.”

Rick took a sip of his coffee. “Walt, I think you handled it right. I didn’t tell you about it, but I had a tourist in ER last week with a Colles’ fracture of the wrist. She must have been sixty-five years old. I knew I could reduce the fracture and set the bone and cast it in place. But you and I both know that at her age the fracture site is likely to collapse some after she gets out of the cast. And that would put her at risk for chronic pain and arthritis of her wrist—not to mention not having full range of motion. So I sent her to Asheville for surgery to get her wrist placed in an external fixation device.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Well, Louise told me I shouldn’t have done that. I stood up to her and told her in no uncertain terms that I was doing what I thought was best for the patient. I still think that’s true. But she must have told Mitch, and on Monday I got chewed out at the office.”

“You’re kidding! Why?”

“Well, he feels we should handle everything we can in Swain County. He said one of the problems with Dr. Nordling was that he sent everything out—and that was harmful to the hospital and the community. So if we want to start sending stuff to other hospitals, we should go practice in those hospitals.”

“Wow! Maybe that’s why he does so many types of surgery that aren’t normally done at a hospital this size.”

“Could be. But I’ll tell you this. I think you handled it just right. If we let the patients know their options, then we can let them decide. We’re not sending them anywhere—they’re taking themselves where they want to go.”

“You don’t think we should just tell it like it is and face him head-on?”

Rick smiled. “It makes me think of the Bible verse ‘We should be as wise and shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’ That principle applies to us right now. I think until we’re a bit more established here—maybe after we’re in our own office—we should be very careful about referrals and how we do them.”

We sat quietly for a moment, and then the door of the lounge opened—without a knock—and in flew Mitch. He didn’t even say hello but glared down at me. “You sent that boy to Sylva? Are you stupid?”

I looked at Rick and then at Mitch. He seemed really irritated! Before I could answer, he continued. “Don’t you know I take care of the surgical injuries of our football team right here in town? There was no need to go send ’im off!”

“I didn’t,” I replied.

“You didn’t? Then where is he?”

“Went home with his parents.”

“Went home? That boy needs surgery. From the stands it looked to me like he has at least a second-degree MCL tear, maybe a third-degree tear—and no doubt he tore part of the meniscus. I take care of those types of injuries right here. What are you trying to do?”

“Mitch, he didn’t have a third-degree sprain. In fact, I don’t even think it was a second-degree—or maybe barely a second. And with no joint effusion, I doubt he had meniscal involvement. But either way, I know you do surgery here for these injuries. And I like to care for our patients here in town—just like you do. I told the parents that—and Louise heard me, so you can check with her if you want. But Gary’s parents wanted Cliff Faull in Sylva to see him. What was I supposed to do?”

“Keep him here until I could evaluate him and talk to the parents.”

I felt myself getting irritated but could see Rick’s eyes telling me, Be careful! I took a deep breath. “Mitch, I’ve got their home phone number. Why don’t you call them? I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear your opinion. If they decide on surgery here, that’s fine with me. In fact, if that’s what they decide, I’d love to scrub in with you.”

He thought for a moment and then seemed to calm down. “No, that probably won’t be necessary.” Then he turned and left.

“Wow!” I commented to Rick.

“How’d that make you feel?” he asked.

“Like I was attacked by a bobcat.”

Rick laughed. “I experienced the same thing Monday. But I had to go it alone.” He laughed again and then took the last swig of his coffee. “Thanks for the coffee, partner. I need to get on up to the inn. Want to come by?”

“No,” I replied. “I’ve got a lovely lady and two beautiful children I need to see. How about a rain check?”

“Any time, partner. Oh, by the way, how are your anniversary plans coming along?”

I smiled, as Rick was now an accomplice. “Sally Jenkins helped me order all the furniture. It will all be shipped to her house. She and R.P. are putting it in their garage. While Barb and I are at Disney World and then on the cruise, she’s having our bedroom repainted and the old carpet torn out and replaced with a new color she’s chosen. Then she’s making new drapes that she’ll hang.”

“Wow. Barb’s gonna really be surprised. I’ll be available that night if you need me to treat her for shock!” We both laughed.

After Rick left, I sat and thought for a few moments. I was feeling bad about having misled Louise and Mitch. I wondered if I shouldn’t have stood up to them. What they wanted to do was, in my opinion, just plain wrong. I just wasn’t sure I had been as courageous or forthright as I should have been. Had I been wise or shrewd? Or had I just plain been a coward?

And then I thought about Rahab, the Canaanite prostitute who had lied to the Jericho men who were seeking the two Israelite spies she was hiding. Yet her lie saved the lives of the two men. She had, it seemed to me, done the right thing. So, I thought to myself, maybe there is a place for righteous deception, eh?

But was I just rationalizing? I didn’t know, but I continued to wrestle with those thoughts until I finally fell asleep that night.



  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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