Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 13
Quite naturally, when I graduated from the University, I was determined eventually to make surgery my field. Dr. Middleton, who exerted such a great influence over me, was a surgeon; Dr. Peck, then the leading surgeon in the West, had his office across the hall from Dr. Middleton's office in Davenport; and, coupled with my friendship and contacts with these two men, was the fact that at college I had had the opportunity to do dog surgery.
Don't be misled by thinking that I was immune to the usual reactions to blood and cutting. When I saw my first operation, a leg amputation on a little boy, done by Dr. Peck, I was as sick as anybody ever was under similar circumstances. But I eventually overcame that and did everything I could to get information and experience in operative technique.
But being determined on surgery, it was a much of a surprise to me as to anybody else that before I had been in Hampton a week I was being called an eye specialist. Of course, if my public thought that, I had to qualify; so did the best I could and read everything I could get my hands on to gain knowledge about this specialty of mine!
My reputation was the result of treating a case of sympathetic ophthalmia. A young man, suffering from the disease, called on me; his physician had advised him to see me and at the time I questioned his motive. I still do.
I found that the young man was living in a horrible place. I moved him into clean quarters and sent for his mother who lived twenty miles away and who knew nothing of her son's condition. I told her that to save one eye for her son, the one worst affected must be removed. She urged that the operation be performed.
I removed the eye, and in time the man recovered enough so that with the saved vision of one eye he could earn his living as a laborer.
With his recovery, the word went around like wild fire; and soon I was fitting glasses and doing all manner of minor eye surgery.
It must be a dozen years ago that I spoke at a banquet in Burlington, a banquet which honored men who had practiced medicine a half century. I happened to remember that early experience as I was introducing Dr. Young, an eye specialist who had practiced in Monmouth, Illinois, before coming to Burlington. I said I wondered if he had moved from there for the same reason that I had moved from Hampton. Had he, like I, when going up and down the streets encountered so many glassy stares that after a while he just couldn't stand it?