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Palabras Pintorescas - Grateful for the Mayo Clinic and good health

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By Editha Bartley

Anything medical catches my eye, and I discovered some small handouts that my doctor father kept in his office. These were brochures with a permit for immunization form on the back.

The titles of these brochures are: “Protecting against Lockjaw,” Safeguarding Children Against Diptheria,” “Catching Typhoid,” and “vaccination scene in the time of Jenner,” with an engraving of a child being vaccinated more than a century ago. The form on the back simply states: “Date ____. Age ____. Realizing the danger of infection from typhoid fever of diptheria, I hereby request that my child __________ be given the recognized and approved protective treatment.” There are spaces at the bottom for the doctor’s signature and his address. I can’t find a date on these brochures, but I think they were first handed out in our Valmora clinic in the 1940s. I vividly remember getting almost all of these shots, with typhoid being the one we had to get every year. That left us with a green arm (Doc’s term) for the span of several days, and sweet brother Bill and I always threatened to hit each other in the glass arm if we disagreed about something. We also got the tetanus/lockjaw shot if we had more than a minor scrape on the knee or arm.

Our father was a terrible shot giver, and when we realized Georgie, his nurse could give shots better than he did, we’d always ask her to do the damage. I don’t think Doc every figured out why we preferred her or anyone over him!

Fast forward into the early 1960s when my father’s youngest sister, my aunt Elvira, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Yes, she was a chain smoker. Doc was in a post graduate program at the Mayo Clinic earlier on, and he knew many of the doctors there. Dr. Mayo stayed at the ranch in the 1930s, and he branded his incision and stitches brand into our log fireplace mantle. We still have that fun memento.

Doc decided Aunt Elvira should go to the Mayo Clinic for her treatment, which included some serious surgery. She and I had spent a summer touring Europe together. After Doc returned from a visit with her at that famous clinic, he decided she should not heal alone, and since I was so close to her, he sent me to Rochester to look after her and to accompany her to her many treatment areas.

Oh, my! I came back from that experience with a totally different view of that medical clinic that was so famous. I got to walk the tunnels and push Aunt Elvira in her wheelchair from her hotel to the clinic every day. Then I got to wait for her in the many and varied waiting rooms they have. I soon discovered I was one of the very few people there who was not sick, and probably the only one who had not gone through the clinic for some problem.

These patient were from all over the country, and every one of them wanted to talk about their illness. Because they were all unknown, strangers to each other, they quickly poured out their hearts to anyone who would listen. I heard more about what ailed the person in the next chair to me than I ever wanted or needed to hear. Very often, the patient had come to the Mayo Clinic as a last resort. Some, like Aunt Elvira, had little or no family to accompany them. I quickly learned that all I had to do was listen.

The moral of this story is that I became very thankful for the good health I am blessed with, and I have nothing but total respect for the many health clinics that continue to treat the very ill. Thankfully, Aunt Elvira lived for several years after this treatment, and she finally quit smoking, to boot.

Editha Bartley  lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.