The Doc’s Doc
By Richard Wangard,
Navy, Air Force
Writing Type: Prose
By Rich Wangard
I sit here tonight feeling like run-over garbage in a wagon wheel rut. I’ve got a gout attack going on. I take more medicine than five horses. Heart meds, gout meds, blood pressure meds, statins to control cholesterol, pain meds to control the chronic pain. But I stay away from the heavy ones. Eighteen years on fentanyl were enough, and when I kicked that habit, I celebrated by going out and buying my first Harley. That was eight years ago now. Since then, even with all that has gone on physically, I ride. If you took my Harley away, I really would die.
Which brings me to the subject of the best doctor in my world. His first name is Dallas (how cool is that?). My favorite movie has always been “Tombstone.” I feel I was born way too late and always saw myself as a Doc Holliday. My friends will attest to the similarities -- an educated wise ass who can shoot, have strange women walk over and start up a conversation, is very quick, talks way too much and is loud enough to be heard by the whole bar, always with a deck of cards in his pocket.
Back to Dallas, my real-life doctor. I am losing him because he is moving to the Denver area after taking care of me for 17 years now. Or is it 18 years? I don’t remember so good now. But he does.
After 10 major spinal operations, a gall bladder operation, two broken ankles, gout, COPD, a bad heart and countless specialists, not once has he ever been wrong about anything that concerns my health. I think he is some kind of wizard with a magic wand that puts Harry Potter to shame.
Beside all that, he takes his time with me and all his patients. He has a great, honest bedside manner and a real gentle way with people. All business, but you can see the care in his eyes.
He has seen me through so much over the years, and a couple of days ago when I went to see him he laid out the truth as only he could: “Rich, you should have been dead a couple of times.” But he didn’t even try to give me the “no smoking” speech because he knows I am hopeless with the cigs.
I came back with a smart-ass dumb remark about still riding my Harley. He didn’t laugh as usual. He said nothing and just looked at me. He knows me inside out, upside down, all my history going back to 17, what’s inside my head, what triggers me. He knows I am a gambler, smoke too much, maybe a drink too much here and there, but not as a habit.
Dallas genuinely cares about me, and he got that through crystal clear as he looked at me like he had never done before. He was trying to tell me that each day I wake up is a real bonus day for me and to make good with it. It took a while for me to process this; he has been trying to get through to me for years now. He finally did, and it scared me.
No, I am no Doc Holliday. I’m just a real nobody who has enjoyed life to the max. Have I seen my share of raw deals? Hell yes. Have I gone through all kinds of physical pain? More than my share. Have I seen and witnessed the true dark side? Been there and done that. And no, I never want to see it again, but sometimes it won’t leave me alone, so I have to fight with the help of friends and the Dallases of this world.
You can only wish a guy like Dallas the very best. I teased him, saying that with all the money he made off of me I expect house calls from Denver whenever I want. That one cracked him up.
But I am here to tell you all one thing for sure. Neenah, Wisc., is losing a great deal, and the Denver area is blessed. Thanks, Dallas, for all the great care and friendship you gave me as just one of your many luck patients. You’re a Doc’s Doc.