Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 I had the privilege of assisting neurosurgeon -- "at-my-own-expense" -- Dr. Sid Tolchin in many operations which embedded in me a deep respect. No sense of humility by him should deprive humanity of his and the linked report. We need awareness of such people.

Sid reports:
I don't want to detract from this wonderful story, but it brought to mind vividly a personal vignette that I had almost forgotten.
It was in September, 1990.  I was at a significant personal crossroad and with a very busy practice but was still on USN Reserve status.
The Kuwait invasion had started by Saddam Hussein and Desert Storm/Desert Shield had not yet been formulated but was in early stages.
I called the Navy Bureau in Washington and talked with a great gal, a Medical Corps E9 Master Chief who was attending the Navy Surgeon General's office (and who herself was on the verge of retirement) and explained my military experience and my desire to be recalled to active duty.  I noted that I had several duty stations in war zones, especially during the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam, and felt that my involvement would be important in the early stage of Marine deployment.  She listened attentitively and with empathy. 
She got my records and said she would call back after she presented my request to an already scheduled meeting of the Bureau staff that day.  She did, later that evening.
She was laughing so I assumed it was good news.  It wasn't.  She noted that my offer was very well received and that the group discussed it in depth but finally decided that, at my rank and with the number of years that I had already served, it would be less expensive for the Navy  to send a squadron of destroyers to Kuwait than to deploy me.
My offer to go at my own expense was refused as "not legal," and that was the end of that opportunity.  Two years later, they booted me out (because of age) and I retired after 36 years of service.
I'm still carrying that disappointment. 
As it turned out, if you recall, there were very few, if any, neurosurgical casualties or other significant wounded in that operation so it would have turned out to be considered a boondogle rather than a useful deployment.
A few years later my youngest son joined the marines for a successful four-year tour and you can't imagine my pride (and my worry).
 A beautiful story told with Spielberg drama and sensitivity.

You have to wonder why these stories never hit the news……


Friday, August 2, 2013

My thoughts, as a retired surgeon, on medical care are posted under 2008.

Friday, April 26, 2013


If you didn't enjoy yesterday when you had it, today's regret will just waste another.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Reverend Bob Richards, the Vaulting Vicar.

When I was at Wabash College between 1952 and 1955, the national Decathlon was held. At that time, the Reverend Bob Richards was an outstanding pole vaulter, nicknamed the vaulting vicar. I had the privilege of eating breakfast with him at the start of the second day of track and field events. His forearms seemed to have more muscle than my thighs.

He was behind a younger athlete in scoring for the five events of the first day. He shared with me how much he would like to win, but that would take everything going his way through the day ahead.

I was serving soft drinks at the high jump event where the leading, young athlete had missed twice at the present height. This was Bob Richards chance to overtake him. If he missed his third attempt, he would be scored at his prior successful height.

Amazingly, Bob Richards went over to him and said, "You can make this jump. You are planting your foot a little bit too far away from the bar." Bob Richards took a silvery gum wrapper and placed it carefully in front of the bar saying, "If you plant your foot on this, I think you can clear it."

I was stunned, knowing how much Bob Richards wanted to overtake the young athlete, and yet, here he was helping him.

Then it really hit me. The leading athlete and his coach never hesitated with thoughts that Bob Richards might be trying to sabotage him. With confidence, he planted his foot firmly on that gum wrapper, glinting in the sun, as though it were a scripture from the Bible and cleared the bar.

I don't remember who won the high jump, but Bob Richards won the Decathlon.

As I saw Bob Richards on the package of Wheaties as a Breakfast of Champions, I thought how favored I was to have witnessed such a great athlete and one with such an unquestioned reputation of sportsmanship.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


For a country to succeed while having the capability of deficit spending and a central bank that has the power of creating money as though by simply printing, it demands a maturity of wisdom beyond that of our current leadership.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


"Whenever we try to do the impossible, such as trying to solve a true dilemma with an enforced grandiose scheme, we are likely to do more harm than good."

"The more the elements necessary for proper behavior of a consumer and a vendor are removed from the the point of transaction, the more irresponsible the result."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

An addendum to a birth certificate?

You are hereby informed that someone has used your imputed financial value to borrow money for their own use. It has been spent and is not recoverable. This may have been immoral, but was nevertheless quite legal because those that borrowed the money said so (made the laws). Payment on this debt will require your lifetime of labor. There is no way that you can escape this servitude. You have been, thusly, taxed without representation since you failed to vote before you were born or achieved legal age with wisdom. Try to bear your lot with its ever-present pain with the knowledge that the "Greatest Generation" that left you with this dire financial legacy did do some admirable things. Those may have been necessary for their own survival and welfare but do redound to your benefit. Keep in mind that they had a really good time with your money.

Some of it was used by the obviously futile goal of living forever. Learn from that and accept the official reality of "quality-adjusted years of life expectancy" as your guide. This will be determined by a government that has your entire electronic medical record and control over the delivery of what medical care they decide you warrant. Who better to know your worth? Study the authorized course in thanatology and end of life decisions early so that you will have perfected the psychological mechanisms of coping with death. Death will be the easier frustration with which to cope. You will be prevented from using your own assets to obtain existing medical services to fight it. After all, communal egalitarianism is the new foundation and must be honored, avoiding the greediness of self reliance and the quest to excel for yourself and your family. What medical care the government has deemed it can't afford for the masses, should be foregone with quiet acquiescence.

The example of consideration by the state of Oregon in denying a patient a cancer drug under the state's program of care with the compassionate touch of assuring the patient in the same letter that doctor-assisted suicide, however, is a covered benefit is a forerunner of the coming era.

Government officials will not be part of this program because of the ethically sensitive need to maintain an arms-length distance from it which will enhance objective management of it.