Bryson City Tales — Emergency (Part 2)

This is from the eighth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Tales. I 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 to join us.



While I was fantasizing, Clem Monteith’s anxious voice erupted into my ear. “She’s gonna deliver and you better get up here! The front-porch light is on.” He paused, then exclaimed, “Oh my, I can hear her pushing. Get here quick! I don’t want to lose her!” Then the line went dead.

That pretty much settled things. I would just have to go to his house, where I could calm him down and assess the situation. But, Oh no! I thought. I hadn’t asked him how to get to his place. And that meant calling Millie, the courteous and helpful dispatcher. Surely she’d know the way. I quickly called dispatch and heard a snarl, “Swain County Dispatch.”

“Millie, this is Dr. Larimore.”

After a pause, she responded with her condescending, “Yes, I know.”

Now was the time to let the cat out of the bag. I cringed as I pleaded, “Millie, where is Clem Monteith’s place?”

Millie heaved a big sigh into the phone. “Son, you thought about investing in a map? They’re not that expensive, and on a doctor’s salary you might could even afford a case.”

Cute, I thought. “Yes, I’ll try to remember to get one, but I need to get up there—now.”

She paused again, then snarled, “Yes. I know.”

Thankfully it wasn’t long before I was informed that Clem lived up in a hollow near town, and Millie promised she’d call the rescue squad—who also took calls at their homes—to meet me at the house.

I quickly pulled on some scrubs, threw on a coat, and grabbed my traditional physician’s black bag. As I started the car, I felt myself shudder. Instead of being the hero, would I lose my first patient? Imagine the scorn. Imagine the gossip—uh, news— coming from the local radio at 6:00 A.M. tomorrow. I could hear Gary Ayers’s voice. “Well, the new doctor in town, Doc Larimore, lost a patient last night. He was doing an ill-advised home delivery at Clem’s place . . .” I felt my pulse rise with the RPMs of the small engine as I raced down the hill behind the hospital—never thinking of stopping by the ER to ask the ER nurse, Louise, to come along with me.

I wiped the sweat from my brow as I raced across the Tuckasegee River bridge and through the town’s two stoplights. My thoughts were racing faster than the engine. I wasn’t sure exactly what was in my black bag. It had been given to me at the beginning of my clinical rotations at the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans—which I called “Harvard on the Bayou”—in 1975. The bag had been a gift to each medical student from the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company.

So, I thought, what’s in the bag? And, Will it be of any help? And, What if the ambulance doesn’t get there? All I could think of was getting someone to boil some water. I had no idea why you boiled water before a home delivery. I just knew I had seen it done on one of the medical shows on TV. I just didn’t know why.

As I rounded the curve leading into the hollow, I pressed the Toyota, and the frantic search began. Which house was it? I found myself saying a little prayer for divine guidance. Driving past a number of homes with no porch light on, I drove around two bends and through what appeared to be a field. Then I spot- ted a small farmhouse—and, sure enough, the porch light was on. Lord, I quickly prayed, grant me wisdom and calmness. I turned up the driveway.

As I pulled in by the front of the house, I was surprised to see a middle-aged man sitting, rather calmly, in a rocking chair on his front porch. He stood up as I rushed from the car, forgetting the black bag. He tossed aside the straw on which he’d been chewing, and as he reached the bottom step, stopping only long enough to spit out a small stream of chewing tobacco, he proclaimed, “She’s in the barn.” He then turned and began to walk toward the barn. “Let’s get going, son.”

I stopped—stunned. As he approached the barn, I stood, mouth agape, thinking, He’s gotten his daughter pregnant! This first perverse thought was followed by others even more nefarious. He’s gotten her pregnant, and now I must complete the dirty deed!

I could just hear Gary Ayers proclaim on the morning news, “The new doc, who we thought was well trained and qualified, actually delivered an illegitimate child last night on School House Hill—the result of perverted incest—under the attempted cover of a moonless night. In the dark and in secret, he attempted to cover up this most heinous of sins. Now incarcerated in Swain County jail, he is expected to be quickly tried and, after permanently losing his license to practice medicine, will be transported to the state prison in Statesville to serve his life term.”

The farmer turned to shout, “Hurry up, son. She’s gonna deliver!”

As I began to follow quickly in the farmer’s steps, I heard a sound that chilled my blood.

Could it be?

It was.

It was a long, low-toned, painful, pleading—“Moooooooooo.”

It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be.

As I ran into the barn, I saw my first full-term maternity-care patient in private practice. I had delivered several hundred babies in medical school and residency, but never a baby like this—a white-faced heifer locked in breech—with the farmer placing the mom-to-be in a headlock device.



© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2016. 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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