By Dr. John McElligott
The fall of 2009 was like the beginning of the end of my medical life in private practice. That year was one of great expansion for Over the Road Trucker (ORT) clinics across the country, a dream I had for many years since I was in the military and got to drive 6 Bi-trucks whenever they needed a medical evacuation. Well, I never lost my love for big trucks and drivers. So, when I was recuperating from a paralysis in my right arm from a broken neck suffered in a helicopter accident in Vietnam in 1967. (The condition went undiagnosed for 42 years. (A typical medical department oversight during the war). Well, I had to leave private practice as an Internist since I could not do rectal exams with my left hand. So I decided to use one of my advanced degrees, Master Degree in Public Health (MPH), to start a new life and an occupational medical company. This went well until I started the ORT clinics across the USA and in 2009 the economy sank and so did the ORT clinics. My two Trauma/Occupational Clinics held up but I had to go to work in emergency rooms and hospitals nights and weekends in the mountains of Tennessee. I did this for 4 yrs after selling my house and moving into a single unit condominium complex. During this stint I was able to pay back a 4 million dollar debt, and was the only partner out of 8 that did not declare bankruptcy.
But that satisfaction did not even come close to the satisfaction of pleasing my wife, except knowing she made the greatest breakfasts for me after finishing a 36-48 hour shift at the hospital/ER. She was despondent, as I was, since we had no pool, yard, or giant hot tub that we both enjoyed plus our giant 4 bedroom house. But we did get a dog and that helped.
As for me, there was one event that kept me working hard, and that was the reason God took my home away and led me to become a renter of a very small condo.
One morning after eating a come-home breakfast followed my usual feeling of wanting to collapse, my wife said she was going out to visit friends and shop. This was our usual Saturday and Sunday morning routine. Monday was different since I had to go to my clinic and work the rest of the week.
One Sunday morning, as usual, my wife (aka Mama Lisa) went out and I collapsed into a coma. Little did I know this was not to be a usual day in my life.
About 2 hours or so after I fell into a coma, my door was being hammered on and someone was screaming for me by my profession “Doctor! Doctor!” Well, I was in my underwear since I did not wear PJ’s in the spring and summer, and I opened the door. Our nextdoor neighbor was screaming “He’s dying! He’s dying!” and I said “Who is dying?” She said the nextdoor neighbor’s son. So I slipped on a T-shirt and shorts and headed to the neighbor’s house across the street who had the only kid in the neighborhood but the neighbor said “No, he is in my house!!” I did a u-turn telling the neighbor to go in my bedroom and get my black bag.
Well, I go in the neighbor house expecting an older kid and what I found was a 2 1/2 – 3yr old boy having his back beat on by my neighbor’s husband. The kid was not breathing and being a black kid turning blue was not an option. So I took the child and turned him over and sure enough he was not breathing. I did my thing and cleared his airway and started mouth to mouth and 2 finger chest percussion while telling my neighbor to call an ambulance. Well, upon resuscitation, the child vomited in my mouth but I continued the chest percussion.
After a few minutes and spitting out something plus vomit, the young boy started breathing. Then the ambulance arrived and I handed the youngster to the EMT and I went back to bed.
The following week someone knocked at our door. My wife opened it and the neighbors asked if they could come in. I heard them talking and coming in and I looked at the little boy who was smiling as were his parents. Poor Lisa, my wife, was standing there wondering what was going on. At that moment I remembered I did not tell her or anyone about the incident.
Later we talked and decided that was why we were living in that condo on that day and never felt another moment of depression for loosing our first house. We still drive by once in a wile as a reminder that life is worth living.