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Tales from Kentucky Doctors

William Montell

Publication Year: 2008

The nearly 350 humorous, heartwarming, and sometimes tragic accounts presented in William Lynwood Montell’s latest book, Tales from Kentucky Doctors, offer an unusual perspective on the culture and tradition of Kentucky health-care practice. From the laughable to the laudable, Tales from Kentucky Doctors present illuminating portraits of doctors and patients, drawing stories from physicians with lifetimes of experience serving Kentucky families. In chapter 2, doctors recall the successes and failures that shaped their early careers. For Dr. Baretta R. Casey of Hazard, becoming a doctor was a difficult journey. Already married and with a child, Casey enrolled in college at age thirty, later completed medical school, and began a successful career as a family practitioner in the 1990s. Though patient visitations and doctors’ prescriptions are recorded on account ledgers, personal relationships and memories are not part of medical records. The section “Personal Practice” gives a glimpse of the intimate relationships doctors form with their communities. “I doubt that any individual was nearer to the family than the family doctor,” Dr. W. L. Tyler says in one story. For many towns, family physicians were heroes. Dr. James S. Brashear relates the challenges of practicing in Central City, a coal mining town, recalling an incident in which he saved the lives of two miners. Handed down to Montell in the oral tradition, the tales presented in this collection represent every part of the state. Personal experiences, humorous anecdotes, and local legends make it a fascinating panorama of Kentucky physicians and of the communities they served.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Tales from Kentucky Doctors

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pp. v-vi

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pp. 1-8

After reading my Tales from Kentucky Lawyers and Tales from Tennessee Lawyers books, several persons said to me, "Montell, since you came up with the two lawyer-story books, it's high time you did one featuring Kentucky doctor stories." As I had already been thinking along the same ...

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Choosing The Medical Profession

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pp. 9-23

Doctors' reasons for choosing the medical profession have remained rather consistent over the years, as is evident in these stories, which cover careers that started from the early 1900s to about 1970. One of the storytellers became a physician due to pressure from the military; ...

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Medical Training and Early Career

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pp. 24-43

Many of today's physicians experienced interesting, dangerous, difficult, and humorous episodes during their training and early career years. The chapter includes descriptions of a number of "firsts," including doctors' ...

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Other Doctors

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pp. 44-65

Stories that describe physicians' actions and attitudes, especially those of physicians who practiced during the early and mid-twentieth century, reveal much about the changing medical profession. It should come as no surprise that many stories told about ...

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House Calls

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pp. 66-100

House calls, also known as home calls, were medical visits that doctors made to patients' homes. They were common in the United States from its early history until the 1950s, and even more recently in some areas of the country. Automobiles were not available for patients, or even most ...

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Personal Practice

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pp. 101-138

The bulk of the stories in this chapter describe personal practice experiences in doctors' medical offices and a few other locations. Some of the stories were told or written by doctors who practiced medicine in the early years of the twentieth century. In particular, Dr. Carl Clifford ...

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Hospital Practice

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pp. 139-164

Some Kentucky physicians used to have to send their patients to large cities such as Louisville, Lexington, and Nashville in order for them to get the hospital care they needed. Others did the best they could with limited facilities. In this chapter, several storytellers describe their experiences ...

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pp. 165-171

This chapter includes stories about a doctor's devotion to the use of penicillin, a patient who refused to pay for medication, and a middle-aged wife who was fearful of pregnancy. Several of the stories deal with patients' experiences with Viagra and with contraceptives. ...

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Special Deliveries

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pp. 172-186

Many physicians' most memorable and meaningful experiences relate to the birth of babies. The stories in this chapter reveal the special role that physicians have played in the lives of rural families and communities and how adaptable they must be in responding to the call when the time for delivery arrives. The stories cover a range of unusual circumstances, ...

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Regrettable Cases

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pp. 187-195

Not many of the doctors interviewed for this book willingly shared accounts of poor decisions, but several told stories about cases in which they were unsure of the right course to take or had to take a novel approach in order to deal with an uncooperative patient. They also told painful stories ...

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Epidemics and Outbreaks

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pp. 196-208

Medical epidemics seriously threatened Kentucky families throughout the early twentieth century. Although doctors' medical treatments eventually cured most of these ailments, the epidemics claimed the lives of many local people. For example, typhoid had a 10 percent mortality ...

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Folk Healing

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pp. 209-215

In the early years of medical practice, many patients attempted natural remedies that were thought to be crucial to the healing process, and even some doctors resorted to alternative approaches to care. Many persons still believe that cures for all human ailments exist in the natural universe; ...

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Animal Stories

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pp. 216-224

This chapter includes tales about a dying dog that was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, a doctor who rode a mule, two physicians who amputated a horse's leg, and a physician who borrowed a frog leg to surprise her husband at mealtime. The chapter includes several stories ...

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Doctors' Social Events

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pp. 225-227

Although doctors most often congregate for formal gatherings of medical societies, during which business and professional matters are discussed, sometimes local doctors get together for social events that include beverage drinking and storytelling. Some doctors can't find ...

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Medical Practice Then and Now

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pp. 228-242

The practice of medicine has changed a lot since the early twentieth century, as has the social and economic environment in which Kentucky doctors practice. The landscape for physicians has been transformed not only by the explosion of medical research, the development of pharmaceuticals ...

Biographies of Storytellers

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pp. 243-249

E-ISBN-13: 9780813172903
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813124827

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2008