Archive for the ‘house calls’ Category

House Calls

Friday, February 29th, 2008

Way back when, during a hiatus while awaiting for word on a grant application, I was a GP seeing mostly rural patients up in the Connecticut hills north of Simsbury. House calls were frequently required. One late evening I was called to see a sick lady for a “bad cough and fever.” Walking into shabby living room of a small farmhouse off the main road, I was ushered into the sparsely furnished bedroom by a tall, middle aged woodsman, unshaven, who looked vaguely menacing, reminiscent of a New England redneck. Sitting on one of the twin beds was a thin, almost skeletal lady looking much older than her stated age of 58. The patient was flushed, with fairly rapid breathing and a temperature of 103.

After draping the patient and asking her to take off her blouse, I began listening to her heart and immediately heard loud murmurs indicating valvular heart disease, along with loud crackles in her lungs, a sign of complicating pneumonia. By this time, her husband who had been lurking next to the patient and staring wide-eyed at me, suddenly left the room, returning with a large shotgun. Pointing the gun in my direction, he announced, “That’s enough. Get out!” I was dumbstruck, but though concerned about about the sick wife, I quickly departed.

The next day I told Ed, my older partner what had happened. He did not seem surprised, but explained simply, “Oh! that’s Clive Johnson. The guy’s crazy; always pulls something like that when you try to examine his wife. ”

P.S. The patient recovered after seeing Ed that afternoon. I never asked him if Clive was around when he examined her chest.