This is a powerful and well-written book about medicine at its deepest level of healing. It should be read by not only lay-people but by every medical student and physician, young and old. With insight and humor, Dr. Anderson Spickard,Jr. shares stories from his fifty year career as a teacher and a "black-bag doctor", a physician willing to make house calls. The reader encounters young athletes with heat stroke and a falling tree that creates an epidemic of histoplasmosis. We witness a preventable death in a horsehair chair and a merciful death in an ambulance. In Stay with Me Dr. Spickard takes us with him on a professional and spiritual journey. He finds new ways to stay with his patients as they recover from serious illness or face impending death. Through it all, Dr. Spickard explores the holy ground between patients and doctors, and shares important lessons for the practice of medicine in the 21st century.
“Spickard and Thompson (Dying for a Drink, 2005) team up once more to chronicle Spickard’s five-decade career as a doctor willing to make house calls.
Told in light, straight-forward and often witty prose, Spickard’s first-person narrative highlights a handful of Stories of a Black Bag Doctor and the
intriguing cases he experienced throughout his career as an internist, spanning everything from typhoid fever to misplaced chicken bones.
Beginning his career in the late 1950s and the days of 24-hour shifts, Spickard not only illustrates how far the industry has progressed, such as with mandatory safeguards limiting the numbers of hours a physician can work, but shows how far medicine has progressed, as evidenced in the story of a patient receiving treatment for botulism in an iron lung, as ventilators had yet to be invented.
In addition to exposing the not-so-pretty side of the job, such as the time he and a partner were assigned to sift through a patient’s bowel
movements until they found the head of a tapeworm, Spickard shines a light on just how incredibly humane, and humbling, the job of a doctor can be, not only by declaring his fear and lack of knowledge as a new doctor, but also by revealing how often doctors are relegated to the helpless role of spectator in cases where healing isn’t possible.
Despite the string of compelling, concise stories (averaging about three pages), the tempo lags slightly when Spickard veers off the general path of medical maladies and hones in on alcoholism, a stated topic of interest for him and Thompson, as they previously co-authored a book dedicated to the disease. But the added emphasis on this specific subject detracts from the work’s intended purpose, further narrowing the scope of an already slim book intended to cover half a century.
With Spickard’s skill as storyteller and his extensive career, the book’s brevity is disappointing, leaving readers to hope for future installments. ”
Kirkus Reviews - KirkusReviews.com
“These stories from Anderson Spickard's long and illustrious career as a Nashville-based physician are well-written and straight from the heart. He doesn't sentimentalize, but his love for medicine and his deep commitment to his patients--no matter what their personal failings--shine through on every page. Highly recommended.”