Say “2020” and everyone thinks COVID-19, Coronavirus and pandemic. On a brighter side, 2020 marks the rebirth of house calls by doctors. Not the old fashioned kind of house calls where “Doc” climbed the back stairs and knocked on the door. People who knew about house calls often lament their passing as the world became a more hectic, efficiency based place to live.
I still have childhood memories of Doc Gordon and his little black bag. It had magical, hinged racks inside that yawed opened to reveal a miniature pharmacy. He was our family doctor and the one who opened his office one night so our entire family could come in for the new polio vaccine shots.
Today my doctor’s house call uses Skype to connect us, face to face, electronically. I sit in the comfort of my home while I wait for my doctor to make his call. Calmly sipping my morning green tea, I finish one online jigsaw puzzle and start on a daily Sudoku.
Tablet hums and my doctor joins me via computer call
My Samsung tablet sits open, wedged between my desktop monitor and keyboard. I live in a very technically outfitted home. Rob waits nearby to help if the call comes in and I forget which button to press. Buzz …. Skype call comes in.
My doctor and I acknowledge that we can see each other. He comments on my haircut and we both laugh. In all the pandemonium of the pandemic, getting a haircut has taken on a whole new level of necessity. I admit that I finally gave in and got it all chopped off.
He asks how I’m doing and we discuss what brought us together this morning. Five minutes later he signs off and I’m good for the day. No muss, no fuss. Why did I bother putting pants on, I wonder. I push the button to disconnect the call and feel fortunate that today’s technology allows such human interactions despite the need for stay at home recommendations.
I think I’m going to miss these calls. Maybe our doctor will realize he can “see” more patients in a day using Skype? It might be better for all of us than having patients waiting impatiently in his waiting room. A new norm, born of a pandemic.
Another deadly virus remembered
Just as this rebirth of house calls by doctors has brought memories of Doc Gordon, it also brings memories of another deadly virus: polio. Those memories come tumbling into my mind, as vivid as if today were 1955. I recall the family conversations about whether or not to get the Salk vaccine. Even as a child, I understood the facts about polio. It was a disease everyone feared for their children.
Many families chose not to get the polio vaccine at first but it was our collective agreement that we would. We were fearless and believed in Jonas Salk as a healer and as a man of science. So one night we walked uptown to Doc Gordon’s office. We would get the vaccine as a family. But one of us didn’t.
Doc Gordon said my Dad’s limp was from polio he must have contracted as a child. Dad always thought he hurt himself falling during a basketball game but Doc said it was more likely he fell because he was ill. Before that revelation, I had bought my Dad’s story that his leg was carved out of wood and each hair was inserted by a master craftsman.
He even let us stick pins in it one day and never blinked. I think now that Doc Gordon had more to go on for his diagnosis than just seeing the limping gate.
Will we ever learn from our mistakes?
Associations of ideas and concepts are what get my mind to musing. Today I cannot help but wonder if future generations will learn from our foolishness during this pandemic. After all, we as a society apparently did not learn from the Spanish Flu fiasco of 1918, nor through polio. Some people today prefer to get their information from strangers on the internet.
Personally, I think humans are the only animals that don’t learn anything from those who came before them. Even crows can pass along the need to be wary of men wearing Nixon masks. Here we are, in 2020, surrounded by people who think the Coronavirus is a hoax.
Doc Gordon has lived fondly in my memory all my life
I was still just a child when Doc Gordon died, quite tragically. After carrying his two boys to safety, he ran back into his burning home for his wife. Neither came out. Over the years I’ve thought of them often. Doc and his boys. My mother said they went to go live with an aunt. I was never sure that was true or if she said that to calm me.
I remember him as kind and caring. He once visited my brother who was sick, in bed. After giving him a shot, he broke off the tip of the syringe and gave it to my brother to use as a water gun. Moments like those are what we are thinking about as we speak of “the good old days.” No rules and regulations to protect us from ourselves. We lived and learned by the rules of common sense.