My favorite granddaughter had to wait a couple of days to get in to see an “ear, throat and nose” specialist.

            My favorite granddaughter had to wait a couple of days to get in to see an “ear, throat and nose” specialist. She had a simple cold for goodness sakes! I was thinking “just take her to the doctor” but prudence and a quick glance from my wife sealed my lips. I reckon it doesn’t work that way anymore.

            It seems that everybody in the medical profession is specialized now-a-days. I’m thankful it wasn’t her left ankle. We might have been weeks finding a left ankle doctor who tailored his practice to little ones under 5. I would hate to have another kidney stone, low down on my right side and through the pain and the agony drag myself to the nearest Urologist…..only to find he was a left kidney specialist. Somebody in that office would have seen my bad side!

            It could be a fraternity thing. The first doctor you see is recommending you to an accomplice sometimes before you finish telling him where it hurts. Once you get in the “system” you can bounce around forever. I could be wrong about this but there seems to be a direct correlation between the amount of insurance you carry and your length of stay in the pipeline. Of course, there is a tremendous upswing to all of this. If a doctor specializes in right index fingers only….and you’ve got that exact bum digit, you could rest easy in knowing he should have a pretty good working knowledge of your problem!   

            J. T. Holmes was the first person on this earth to lay eyes on me. If he had any special comment as to my looks or well being, I was too busy filling my lungs and blinking from the bright lights to take note. He was the only doctor in town in my early years. Of course, I didn’t visit often. We only went to see him if the sassafras tea, mustard poultice or the burnt oil and sulfur didn’t work.

            My first emergency trip was when I closed the truck door on my left thumb. It was smashed flat and the pain was so awful I barely remember Mom saying, “You might lose it.” Dr. Holmes stuck a needle as long as a Texas flagpole right through it and began to sew it back together way before any “deadening” took effect. If he heard my screaming he didn’t seem to notice. He never took his eyes off my thumb, which by the way, is still functioning sixty years later.

            I went to see him when I had the Whooping Cough. We had tried Vicks Salve, Smith Brothers and White Rose petroleum jelly. Nothing could stop my coughing! Dr. Holmes listened to my breathing for a split second and brought out the Texas needle. I immediately went silent. I promised to never cough again as long as I lived— It was too late! He had my pants down in a nanosecond and while my parents held me down, he sank that thing all the way to Amarillo!

            Dr. Holmes specialized in making you well. He took care of “his” people from birth to death. He waded through fevers, rashes, wayward fish hooks, mumps, scurvy, puncture wounds, droopy eyes, dislocated shoulders and hemorrhoids with equal aplomb.

I thought of him as a crusty old fellow but he never seemed to take a vacation, be out of town or unavailable when a crisis occurred. If you broke your arm on Sunday, he’d meet you at the office and mash it back in place. He was one of those constants when we were growing up. You knew if it got too bad, you could go see Dr. Holmes. He might have been the last resort, but he was a good guy to have at the end of the health line. We didn’t fill out insurance papers or have to “pay before services were rendered”. Dr. Holmes WAS our insurance. 

            One of the worst crashes of my misspent youth occurred when I veered off the hill behind the swimming pool on my cardboard racer and went hurdling headlong toward the concrete walkway below. Just before my face made contact I saw that Texas needle plain as day! When I “came to” Billy Webb had me in his arms racing toward the house. I could feel hot sticky liquid spilling into my right eye. “Billy,” I was addled but not that out of it, “don’t take me home. I’m not going to the doctor”. Billy ran directly to our house, Mom covered my face with a cold towel and drove me immediately to Dr. Holmes. He held my face gently as he rammed the big needle into the cut above my eye. Five stitches fixed me right up.

            I thought I might catch a break when I went to get my freshman football physical signed. Listen, I had about had it with football. I was tired of getting run over by Bob Cassidy, David Paschall and Jim Williams. Maybe Dr. Holmes would think about the knee he sewed up and my thumb and certainly that big cut above my eye. I could have a Whooping Cough relapse. I couldn’t quit football but if I failed the physical…...

            The nurse took my papers and went off to the back somewhere. She reappeared in about two minutes with my physical SIGNED by Dr. Holmes. He passed me without even looking at me! I thought that was unfair and surely illegal. Until it dawned on me that Dr. Holmes had been examining me all my life! He wasn’t guessing or to busy to bother. He “specialized” in knowing me inside out!

            I hope and pray my granddaughter could be so lucky,