Dr. K

When I first met Dr. K he was very businesslike, always in a hurry, didn’t spend much time with you and you had to wait at least an hour and up to an hour and a half to get in to see him. And, he never smiled much.

By the way, the reason I refer to him as Dr. K is that he had one of those unusual names that seemed to lend itself to being cut short for simplicity’s sake. After the good doctor’s death, I spoke with his son, who is an attorney is Texas, and asked him if I could get a copy of my records. I thought my medical records would come in handy if any of my combat injuries started to act up, especially the shrapnel that I had in my face.  The doc had told me that most of the pieces were pretty small and would just work their way up to the surface but I still had to be careful and keep track of my condition.   X-rays were okay but I had to be careful of other procedures.  Dr. K’s son said he would get back to me because he had to go through all the records that were in storage. After quite some time, Dr. K’s son did get back to me and told me that he could find all Dr. K’s records for every patient except for me. There was absolutely no record of me ever having visited Dr. K.

For few moments I thought it was very unusual and I told him that there were many people over the years who had been with me when I had an appointment with the good Doc. But then I began to realize the obvious that there couldn’t be a record of combat wounds from an average Joe citizen going to an average family doctor/surgeon.

So the times I had to see Dr. K, because of a bullet fragment in my back or stab wound or because of injuries from the time when  I was tortured for 2 days with electrical shock, would just have to remain as memories and nothing else.  I can vividly recall  showing up at his office with the smell of burning flesh still lingering after would-be killers burned my legs up and down as well as other parts of me.

I really enjoyed speaking with Dr. K towards the end of his days, because his whole personality had changed from a stiff straight by-the-book type of individual to a smiling happy guy, even once in a while telling a joke.

My lady had seen him too after I had to just about carry her into his office when my Mustang got scared, charged her, and in his panic, knocked her down and stomped all over her legs. My Mustang weighed about 1,200 to 1,300 pounds and had huge hoofs that were almost the size of dinner plates. He created a lot of damage but Dr. K had an answer for pretty much anything. I remember he wrapped her legs in a silver cloth and told us it would keep down any infections and help it heal faster. Then he proceeded to tell us the story of how silver was used when the first settlers crossed the United States in covered wagons, and how they would put silver dollars in the water barrels to keep bacteria to a minimum. Another time he told us how he worked on the combat field, patching up wounded soldiers and the arrival of a new medicine that they were to try out to see how effective it was. The new medicine was penicillin. Dr. K said penicillin changed everything.

I remember one appointment with him that I certainly wasn’t at all looking forward to.   I was coming back from an assignment where I was grabbed by some bad guys and part of their interrogation was trying to put a glass rod of my penis. The idea was to shove it up far enough into my penis and then use a mallet to break up the glass so the small pieces that would’ve been impossible to remove, the point obviously to give me great pain every day for the rest of my life.   They never quite accomplished  the task (which is another story) but I was cut in a very sensitive area of my body to say the least. So when I got back, Dr. K had to clean up a little bit of an infection, but I must say his demeanor was quite interesting. I was sitting up on the edge of the table in his office, he was sitting on a small stool so he could look straight directly at the target area. After he cleaned up the infection he said he was going to have to make an incision so that the opening was a little larger. I said okay.  I mean, what else are you going to say?   He’s got a scalpel and my business in his hand.  After a bit of cutting he said something you never want to hear from a doctor with a scalpel in his hand.  “Whoops”, he said.   He cut a little bit too much but, he said it wouldn’t be a problem. He said he’d just throw a couple of stitches in it, which he did. Everything ended up okay, but that was the day that I realized that surgeons are just like the guys that work on car bodies. They sand a little bit too much, they cut a little bit too much off and they just patch it up. Same thing with doctors and the human body, a little too much of a snip, just throw a couple of stitches in and everything will be just fine.

My relationship with Dr. K didn’t start out having him patch me up or the others because of combat injuries. I knew the Doc for quite a few years prior to having him as our medic. But I’m sure glad we did. I asked Chauncey about how we ended up using my regular doctor. Chauncey was never really clear about it. He said he had great respect for Dr. K and that he was a surgeon with a military background serving in combat situations. So I take it that Chauncey talked to people who talked to other people and Dr. K, being the man he was, took on the job.

I really miss him, the stiff, no smiling Dr. K as well as the congenial man he came to be.   I was fortunate to have him as a friend and a member of the 231 Club.

Letter from Dr. K