ER Adventures in Rural America
About the Book
This is the story of a General Surgeon in the American south, who grew up in a time when there was little or no air conditioning, accept for the super wealthy, and even some rural homes had no indoor plumbing. Following a two year stint in the Air Force during the Vietnam era, I completed my surgical training and began a long career in General, Pediatric, and finally Bariatric (obesity) Surgery in a medium-sized Southern American city. It was a sheer joy to be instrumental in totally changing people’s lives, particularly those who were morbidly obese. After doing over 4000 bariatric cases, and helping them to appreciate a new lifestyle and longevity, laparoscopy was added to bariatric surgery which almost spelled its doom initially. However, cool heads persisted, the surgeons got the proper training they needed, and open to laparoscopic bariatric surgery changed almost overnight, as “learning curve” complication rates plummeted. Rather than exposing my patients to same for the first several hundred cases in my late 60s, I decided to retire.
Since I still had lots of energy, and realizing that one can only play so much golf, I recalled my residency days “moonlighting” in rural ERs. This book is dedicated to an almost endless string of characters who were the basis of the stories you will read about herein. It is certainly not meant as a “how to do” book in layman’s ER medicine, but merely an entertaining treatise about so many things in this 9-year ER career, which brought so many smiles to my face. Not only did I get a great since of fulfillment as I realized how much diagnostic and fundamental surgical expertise is appreciated in “the boonies”, but also the thanks that I would get from the eyes and hearts of my rural patients.
I was so privileged to see so many changes in equipment and knowledge, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic skills, compared to my past experience in early 1970s. All these things are described herein, and I hope you enjoy their descriptions as much as I have telling you these stories. Thanks in advance for listening.
About the Author
Dr Jones grew up and was educated in the American deep south. He went to College in Virginia, then returned to Tulane for medical school, where he met his wife and best friend for now 55+ years. Together, they have three children and seven grands. He then completed his surgical training in Louisiana and Alabama, after a brief stint in the Air Force during the Vietnam era. After a 36 year long general surgery career, he retired, and with his experiences in mind while “moonlighting” as a surgery resident, returned to rural ER medicine. This was not without much soul-searching, as many would feel it was too much of a humbling move from the exaltation of a “big time surgeon”. So he bit his tongue, took the necessary courses, got the proper certification, and began a new part time career in rural ER medicine, and never looked back.
In so doing, he discovered a whole new world to enrich his medical
experience. Medical or surgical specialists tend to look at medicine with tunnel vision, usually learning little about general medical advances, unless they directly effect his or her specialty. Surgeons are certainly no exception, as they are so busy in their very stressful trade.
After getting into ER medicine, he quickly realized how sophisticated it had become since the early ‘70s, as his tunnel vision became wide-angled, and he began to thrive in his new career. This included a myriad of new and different things including CT, ultrasound, much faster lab results, very well trained ER personnel, and trustworthy EMTs who were indeed much more than sophisticated bus drivers. Bottom line: His new job became such a joy that it was difficult to retire from it also, as you will see.