Drinking with doctors

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This month is a busy one for me because of umpteen family birthdays, including “First Wife” Iris, our two daughters, great-grandson and, of course, Mothers Day. Result? I needed to find a fun column for olden days. Our trip back this week is to the winter of 1992.

Wasn’t that a shame about Dr. Mark Horowitz? Why should a good guy be fired for practicing the Golden Rule? The major spoilsport in this deal was Jimmy Hughes’ wife, and the Veterans Administration has some pretty dumb rules, too. Why should they forbid doctors to socialize with their patients?

If I wind up in a wheel chair in a veterans hospital and a couple of doctors take me out for beer at a topless bar, I’m probably going to work them into my will.

Out to a topless bar! That’s what happened to Jimmy Hughes, and then his wife, Marie, finds out and starts telling everyone in town that it was an outrageous treatment and he was “souses to the eyeballs” when he got back. I figure nobody held a bayonet to Jimmy’s back and made him drink that awful stuff in those corrupt surroundings.

Chief of staff at the Tennessee hospital said the unusual treatment had no bad effect on Jimmy’s condition. Who know? Maybe it gave poor old Jimmy’s heart a healthy workout? But, Dr. Mark got fired anyway. This happened back in October and I have been wondering about something ever since.

Today, I looked Iris right in the eye and asked, “If I was confined to a wheel chair in the veteran’s hospital and a couple of doctors took me to a topless bar, would you make a big complaint about it?”

Iris thought a minute and replied. “Are we taking here about a situation where all your life insurance is paid up?”

“Well, uhh ya … I suppose.”

“Well then, I can’t see anything wrong with you having a little fun in the midst of your illness.”

“Thank you, honey,” I replied. “I had to know how you felt about the issue, but the truth is, even if I get sick like that, I wouldn’t think of doing anything to risk my health because I want to have as many wonderful days with you as I can.”

“What a thoughtful thing to say. Come here and give me a big kiss.”

After the smooch, Iris looked me in the eye and said, “George, I appreciate your little fib and want you to know I was just kidding about the insurance. If you ever do anything like Jimmy Hughes, I’m not going to make a big deal out of it.”

That’s what I was looking for. I’ve got my pass. Now all I have to do is sit around waiting to get sick and then hope for a doctor like Mark Horowitz.

Different story! Oh what a painful memory! I just recalled the time four of my buddies smuggled me out of St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula. I was in there with seven broken ribs, split sternum, skull fracture and a broken left leg. In the evening of the fifth or sixth day, the guys carried me out a back door and sat me on my favorite stool at the Smokejumper’s favorite watering hole.

I was sipping a second ice cold bottle of Schlitz (it was a long time ago) and a buddy I hadn’t seen for some time came in and recognized my back. He was big and strong and he sneaked up from the rear and gave me a big bear hug.

I never did hear a Catholic nun actually swear at anyone, but when the guys brought my badly fractured torso back to the ward on a stretcher, the Sister was not amused.

Somehow, guys with wives like Jimmy Hughes has just never signed up for the parachuting business, and that was good.

G.George Ostrom is an award-winning columnist from Kalispell.

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