A Fractured Ankle
I was sitting in one of Dr Haddock’s examination rooms waiting for him to review my x-ray. I was nervous. Four weeks previously I had been struck in the right ankle by a midfielder while playing high school soccer. Being the manly man I was, I had walked around for nearly a month enduring the pain and the growing swelling until my girlfriend threatened to tell either my coach or my parents if I didn’t do something.
Finally, I had admitted to my parents that something was wrong, and they had made an appointment with our family doctor.
My Family Doc
Dr Haddock was the man who sixteen years earlier had delivered me. He was the man who had been there when I needed allergy shots to handle my seasonal hay fever. He had burned a wart off my right hand; and had been the doctor to see me when I had fallen off the monkey bars in fifth grade and was seeing two versions of my teacher Ms Jackson (a nightmare for any grade schooler).
He was also the man who had sewn up the laceration on my right hand when I cut it on a piece of broken glass leaving behind a neat line of scar tissue that I am looking at even as I write this.
As I recall the urgent trip to his office with my mom driving and me cradling my hand in a clean kitchen towel to control what I was sure was a life-threatening hemorrhage, but which I now know was a relatively minor cut, I can still feel the numbness from the anesthesia, and nausea rising in my throat when I think about watching the needle and thread go in and out of my palm. Dr Haddock had also stitched up the laceration on my right thigh from a bike accident, leaving behind another neat scar that I carry with me.
I short, he was our family doctor. He was our trusted medical adviser and confidant that would see me through the ailments of childhood, adolescence, and even young adulthood. I looked up to him, and he was one of the first influences I had in my life that drove me towards a career in medicine.
In the same compassionate voice that would one day tell my father he had prostate cancer, and that he would do everything he could for him, I listened to Dr Haddock explain that my ankle was indeed broken.
He chided me a little bit for not coming sooner, telling me that the ankle had already begun to heel, and that unless I wanted him to break and reset it, there was little he could do. I can still produce a crackling noise in my right ankle if I twist it at the correct angle. And you guessed it, I’m doing that right now, even as I inspect the scar in my right palm. But I trusted Dr Haddock, and with time, and an air brace, the swelling went down, and I now walk without any difficulties.
Model Physician, Healer, and Humanitarian
You see, Dr Haddock was everything a doctor should be to me. He was part of our community, acting in local plays, and being part of the yearly Christmas fundraiser for the less fortunate. He also did free school and sports physicals. He donated his time wherever and whenever he could.
And no matter what the issue, he seemed to have an answer. A wise man, indeed. He was our family doctor, the prototype of the country GP–even though he had honed his skills as a battalion surgeon in Vietnam before coming to our small community–and we loved him.
Role Model for Many
Today, as I look back at my life, I realize there were many people who influenced the path I took, and the career I chose. Because of their influence I am what I am today. I believe that I have done some good in this world as both a practitioner and a medical academic. And for that, I have role models like Dr Haddock to thank.
Gary Haddock died in April of 2019. He had come to my small town in 1967, stopped practicing medicine in 2000 full-time, but continued to do part-time clinical work for several more years, as well as serving on the local school board. Sadly, I never had the chance to thank him for the influence he had in my life. But I imagine I am not alone, and plenty of others did.
As you read this, perhaps you can think of those who have influenced you most. Why not reach out to them today, before it is too late, and say thank you.
Live Your Dream: Become a Physician
Do you have a dream? Do you want to be the type of physician that Dr Haddock was? An inspiration to your community, a provider of quality, compassionate care?
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