Good Morning Doctor! - Chapter 17
If any of the other doctors had been at home that night in Hampton, I might never have met Miss Lottie Beed; and if I hadn't met her, the chances are that I would have missed much in the years that followed. But fate was kind. The other doctors were all away and it was I who was called by Mr. Beed to attend his daughter. It wasn't until later that I knew I had been fourth choice that night. However, by the time I did find it out, it made no difference, for by then I had managed to work myself up a little higher in the esteem of the Beeds, especially Miss Lottie.
Things worked out so well that eventually I had the temerity to ask for her hand in marriage; and I was accepted. We were married December 19, 1893, and we are still together after all these years. We must be old-fashioned, for we continue to enjoy each other's company; or perhaps it's just that we have grown so close to each other.
What Lottie hasn't been through with me! Time and again she has had her plans for an evening with me ruined by an emergency call; more often than not, when we have accepted an invitation to go out, she has had to go alone or stay at home because at the last minute I was called away. She has had to be chained to the telephone to answer calls day and night. And many times she has had to bring my clean short to the office so that I could freshen up that much for the new day after having been out on a case all night. In spite of this hectic existence, Lottie has always managed to be cheerful.
Yet even that phase of her help to me is overshadowed by her aid to me professionally. She is one of those born doctors and, while she has never had any technical training beyond that which I have been able to give her, she is an excellent assistant. Always interested in my work, she was during the first years of our married life my office girl, my homemaker, and my professional assistant. Of a morning she would get the work done at home, come down to the office, take care of callers, help me with minor surgery and then, after office hours, scrub up the place and rush home to get supper.
Her first experience with the surgical end of the business might have been her last if it had not been for her staunch spirit and her aptitude for surgical nursing. It was a tonsil and adenoid case--a bloody affair--but she stuck it out.
She often laughs about the second time she got sick during an operation. She hadn't been feeling well that day, and the sight of blood was just enough to push her over the line. About half way through the operation she felt herself swaying; she slipped out of the room, opening the door with her elbow so as not to touch anything with her sterile hands. Into the kitchen she went and flopped out full length on the kitchen floor, holding high her hands, for though she die she must not let those precious hands be contaminated. And there she lay, eyes shut, sick, arms up!
After a time she felt better, elbowed her way back into the operating room, and again took her place beside me. She swears I didn't even notice she was gone!
One Sunday afternoon, a pleasant day, I was called out into the country and Lottie went along for the ride. We hadn't been told the nature of the case. When we got there and found a woman in confinement about to give birth to a child, we had little time to do anything and little to work with, for the home was very poor.
The woman was lying on a straw tick, a tattered affair. Before we could make her bed any more presentable, the baby was born, tumbling out onto that ragged tick. I handed him to Lottie and began, as best I could with only my medical case with me, to take care of the mother.
I happened to glance around at Lottie. There she stood, methodically and carefully picking, much as she might a chicken, the bits of straw from that newborn babe!
And what happened to the baby? He thrived and grew and became a man. Years later when the call to arms was heard in the World War, he joined the United States forces and served in France. Then he was honorably discharged and has taken his place as a useful citizen.
When in May of 1897 we moved to Waverly, feeling that the professional field here held more possibilities, Lottie continued as my helper. And in these later years, when she hasn't had to be tied to the office, she retains her interest in my work. I don't suppose I ever came home from a confinement case without her rousing up enough to ask, "Was it a boy or a girl?"