I received my doctor’s bag as a gift. Background story:
On a dark night in 1974, I heard someone yelling, “Doctor Eves Dr. Eves“. The guy yelling was Marty, a Navy medic. Marty and I were on duty at the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Hospital in Victoria BC. A retired Navy vet had diverted to HMCS Naden because he was certain his wife would not survive long enough to get to the Royal Jubilee Hospital. When the couple set out, his plan was to take her to the Emergency Room, but her breathing suddenly got much worse.
When I laid eyes on her, it was immediately obvious he had made the right decision. His terrified partner’s mouth and nose were bubbling a blood-tinged froth. She was a bluish colour, gasping, drowning in her own fluids. A quick assessment proved my first guess was right, she had pulmonary oedema. She was near death for about thirty minutes, but after some oxygen, furosemide, ethacrynic acid, nitroglycerin, a little morphine, rotating tourniquets and two phlebotomies, her air entry slowly improved. Once she stabilized I transferred her, by ambulance, to the civilian hospital.
About a week later, I asked my wife, who worked in the RJH CCU, how’s that lady doing, the one I sent over from the military hospital? My wife explained that she hadn’t heard anything about her after she was transferred to the medical ward. The next day, something was clearly off, my always-smiling wife looked sad as she approached. She had tried to follow up, at the hospital, but was told the resilient older gal had died. Whoa, what a shame, no wonder my wife had adopted a gloomy expression to prepare me for such bad news.
Many weeks later I was walking up the ramp from the surgical ward to the main hospital when I encountered an elderly couple. I recognized the man as the husband, from that dark night, but I didn’t recognize the lady that was with him. After saying hello, he related to me that the cardiologists at RJH had told him, “That young military doctor saved your wife’s life.” Wait, what, “saved”, was this really his wife? Ends up, it was. She looked so healthy I didn’t know her. Happy days! They presented me with a doctor’s bag, as a “small token” of their thanks. We then shared a cheery conversation.
Almost half a century later, I still have the bag. It was an excessively generous gift, crafted to endure and it still evokes an enjoyable, early-days-in-medical-wellness memory.
Confession: On the day I received my doctor’s bag, I’m grateful that, even though I was a chatty young fellow, I was able to resist blurting out the first thing that popped into my head, which was, “Oh, mmmmyyyy God, I thought you were dead“. 😉