Bryson City Tales — My First Home Victory (Part 2)

This is from the nineteenth 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 and family to join us.

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Tony Plemmons, the start quarterback, was laying on his back, moaning in pain.

With one hand I was instinctively feeling for his pulse — which was normal— while running my other hand up his jersey to the shoulder. The clavicle was intact. But the ball of the shoulder was prominent, and he yelped when I palpated the rotator cuff. I knew what it was and I knew what I had to do, but I’d have to act quickly before the shoulder muscles began to spasm—which would only make the pain greater and the treatment more difficult.

“What is it, Doc?” asked Coach Dietz, now at Tony’s other side.

“Think we’re fine, Coach.” I was trying to reassure him— and me too.

“Tony, I need you to lie back.” He slowly lay back, moaning from the pain of the sudden motion. I could hear a hushed groan from the crowd as they saw him slump to his back.

What is it, Doc?” asked the coach emphatically. “We need to call the paramedics? You need Doc Mitchell?”

I didn’t have time to explain. My mind was racing. I could hear Gary Ayers the next morning. “Swain County had a chance to win the game until the newest doctor in town broke the quar- terback’s shoulder trying to treat a simple dislocation.” Pete Lawson’s headlines in the Smoky Mountain Times would read, “Perfect record given to Sylva by an inexperienced team physi- cian. After the game Coach Dietz commented, ‘We’d have won the game if only I had called Dr. Mitchell out of the stands to care for our quarterback. Now we’ve lost him for the season.’” I could feel the cold sweat dripping down my forehead and was hoping no one would notice my trembling hands.

“Tony, let your arm go real loose. Don’t fight me. I need you to trust me, OK?”

“OK, Doc. Just make me better, will ya?”

“I will, Tony. I will,” I said, trying to reassure us both. “Hold on now.”

If my diagnosis was correct, what I was about to do would cure him. If I was wrong, if his shoulder was broken, what I was about to do would not only make things worse, it would put Tony in even more excruciating pain. With him now relaxing, I moved quickly. In less than one or two seconds, I was able to abruptly perform a simple manipulation of his shoulder and arm. Both Tony and I instantly experienced relief as his dislocated shoulder moved back in place.

Tony’s eyes widened, and he beamed. “Pain’s gone, Doc. It’s gone!”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Sit up, Tony. Let’s get you to your feet.”

As he rose, so did a crescendo of applause from the crowd as they saw him swing his recently crippled arm. The stadium erupted. The ground shook.

The referee stepped in. “Coach, you’re gonna have to sit him out a down.”

“No problem. No problem.”

As Tony ran off the field, the stands erupted again. Their hero appeared healthy. Coach and I walked off behind him.

“Good job, Doc.”

I handed him two Tums. He smiled and trotted ahead of me. I felt like I needed at least two myself!

After a quick check on the sideline indicated that Tony had suffered no nerve or blood vessel damage — and after a single play by a scared-to-death sophomore quarterback, executing his first play before his entire hometown — Tony hurried back onto the field.

His dislocated shoulder was just what he, the team, and the crowd needed. Sylva didn’t stand a chance. The junkyard dog was out of the pen. We scored three times in the last quarter. The opposition never even got close to the goal line.

It was one of the most joyous nights of my life. I had made a difference. I had become, in one glorious instant, part of the team and part of the community. From that moment on, for the rest of the game, I wasn’t watching their game, I was watching our game.

After the win the locker room was the scene of an ongoing celebration. Coaches, players, and parents were all slapping me on the back. There were enough cheers going around for every- one. Coach asked me to check on Tony. I did. His shoulder was in good shape. The rotator cuff seemed tight. It was his first and, hopefully, last shoulder dislocation. Fortunately it wasn’t his throwing arm.

“Should I ice or heat my shoulder, Doc?”

I looked at the coach. He smiled. “I’d like you to ice it tonight and several times again tomorrow,”

I said. “That OK, Coach?”

Boyce grinned from ear to ear. “Doc, you say it, that’s the way we’ll do it.” He slapped Tony on the back. “Great game, son. Tonight’s part of your legacy.”

“Thanks, Coach. And, Doc, thanks to you, too!”

Outside the locker room there were only a few folks left. The lights had been turned off and a sprinkler was already on — preparing the field for next week’s battle with Robbinsville.

A couple came up to me. The woman spoke first. “I’m Tony’s momma. He gonna be OK?”

I explained the injury and what I had done. I recommended that they bring him to the office on Monday for an X-ray — just to make sure everything was OK. I told them how to care for him over the weekend and suggested that they pick up an arm sling for the next day. It would make the shoulder more comfortable and guarantee plenty of sympathy at church. They smiled and thanked me.

Preston and Joe Benny strode up. They provided a running commentary on the game, praised me for my first game’s performance, and were effusive in their congratulations. It was all a bit embarrassing. When they went off, arguing about this or that play or call, I headed toward my car. There weren’t many left in the lot.

I suddenly stopped. At the gate stood Mitch and Gay. I felt a chill go down my spine. Was he angry? Should I have called him to the field? In my haste to care for the quarterback, had I dishonored his position and experience? The questions were rushing through my brain when he stepped toward me, extend- ing his hand. As he shook it, he asked, “Anterior dislocation?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Neurovascular bundle OK?” “Yes, sir.”

“Any pain over the proximal humerus after relocation?” “No, sir.”

“Sending him for X rays?”

“To the office Monday.”


“Yep. Mom’s gonna pick one up in the morning.”

He was quiet a moment.

“Good job, son. Good job. Don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed watching a game this much.”

He slapped me on the back as we headed out the gate.

“Should I have called you to the field, Mitch?”

“You stupid?” he asked, smiling. He paused for a moment and then laughed. “No, no. Absolutely not. Figured if you were in trouble, you’d call. Folks around me in the stands were yelling for me to go down, but I told them to just hush up. I told them there was a mighty fine physician down there. Glad you didn’t let me down.”

“Thanks, Mitch.”

“Thank you, Walt. I’m glad you’re here. Good night.” They turned to leave.

“Night, Mitch. Night, Gay.”

As they walked away I headed toward the car. Then something caught my eye. The scoreboard was still lit up: SWAIN COUNTY 35 VISITORS 14. And in the lights below the scoreboard, in the message section, it said, “Thanks, Doc Lattimore.”

My first home victory. Although my name was misspelled yet again, it was sweet indeed.



  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)

© Copyright Walter L. Larimore, M.D. 2020. 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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