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Thomas Jefferson said that given the choice between government without newspapers and newspapers without government, he would choose to have newspapers.

In medicine we have government without newspapers. Patients cannot find out what they need to know to make informed choices. No one in medicine records or reports the information patients need to know the most. So patients will have to.

Dr. Masser

It's not as though Aaron never had reason to distrust people in medicine. Although the community in which he was raised had not learned that lesson. In the late 1970s when Aaron was growing up, people picked up hitchhikers. People weren't worried about strangers, let alone doctors and nurses. It was generally believed that all people basically were good. They believed that when children were born their minds were blank pieces of paper. Suggesting that some might be born with psychopathic personalities resulted in ostracism to the point of a rant. The idea that some people could have their good intentions subverted to evil ends by cultures or institutions whose hidden agenda was achieving its own ends regardless of all else, was not considered except in extreme historical cases like Nazism. Flower power and "all you need is love" and cooperation were on peoples' tongues.

So Aaron wasn't worried about people. Not even truckers. When he was five years old, one of Aaron’s friends had shown him how to make a hand signal that mimicked a trucker’s reaching up to grab the handle of an air horn. He said that was how to signal a trucker to blow the horn. Walking on the sidewalk as a semi-truck approached Aaron gave the signal. The trucker blasted the horn half a dozen times. The man controlling that huge rig had responded to the boy’s tiny hand signal. He was amazed, in part at the size of the community that responded positively to him.

A couple of years later, he and his friend tried doing something they saw older kids doing. They put their thumbs out and hitched rides. The drivers asked them where they were from and where they lived. There was nothing in his experience to suggest he shouldn't trust these people.

Especially doctors and nurses. There were only three doctors he knew growing up. Two of them were neighbors. Dr. Smith was retired and lived next door. Dr. Masser, who was older but still working, lived across the street.

Dr. Smith appeared outside only to mow his lawn or retrieve his newspaper. He was reclusive and barely hid his dislike of people. Aaron was familiar with adults who didn’t like children, but this wasn’t that. Dr. Smith didn’t like anyone.

Dr. Masser was the opposite. He loved children, liked everyone, was loved by everyone, and couldn’t have been more generous and loving to everyone he encountered. He was attached to Aaron and the rest of Aaron's family like the ideal grandfather even though they were not related. Dr. Masser's own children were grown and not living in the neighborhood, so he more or less adopted Aaron’s family, the Roarks, as surrogate children and grandchildren.

Although one time Dr. Masser did create a question with which Aaron wrestled for a long time. He broke the needle off of a syringe and handed it to Aaron telling him it would make a good squirt gun, but saying not to tell anyone where he got it.
“Why not?”
Because it was against the law to give it to him.
“Why is it against the law?”
“Oh, they’re worried about people using them to inject their own drugs.”
“Why would they do that?”
“Some people do it for fun. They’re not people you’ll ever be around. No one is worried about you. It’s okay for you to play with this.”

This created a quandary for Aaron. It was a really great squirt gun for the time. He wanted to play with it. But it was illegal. Dr. Masser had said not to worry about it, but it was against the law. How could a doctor break a law? He wanted to ask his mother, but Dr. Masser had said not to tell anyone. He was afraid to let anyone know about the syringe, let alone squirt anyone with it. So he hid it under a rock in the field next to his house where no one would find it.

This did not tarnish his near reverence for Dr. Masser. The man was so infused in Aaron’s consciousness that it was unlikely that anything could tarnish it. There even was a sandwich named for him. In keeping with the nutritional ideas of the time, Dr. Masser had invented a sandwich that he himself ate everyday at lunch and that Aaron’s family adopted as one of their favorites. It contained an egg with a runny yoke, two slices of bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. It was best when the yoke ran through it like a sauce.

In order to have a ready supply of the best tomatoes for these sandwiches, Dr. Masser made a deal with Aaron’s family. He would use a machine to till a few rows of soil in the field next to their house if they would plant tomatoes that they would share. Two rows of tomato plants produced more tomatoes than the two households could eat. When Aaron wanted a snack in the summertime, one of his favorite things was to take a salt shaker out to the field, pick a ripe tomato, and alternately take bites and salt it as he stood in the sunshine facing Dr. Masser’ house.

Growing things and planting things was a passion for the doctor. The trees between the street and the sidewalk were oak trees that had planted as acorns when Dr. Masser first moved there decades before Aaron was born. He had a passion for plants and planting things. When he was 18 years old, on a train on the way to college, trying to decide whether to study agronomy or study medicine, a stranger persuaded him that he would be able to do more good for humanity by becoming a doctor.

Now there were summer days when he knocked on Aaron’s door and asked if he wanted to go for a drive. They would drive to the countryside to visit some piece of property or other he had purchased. Walking on it he could tell from the plants if there was a spring underneath it and how fertile the soil was. He bought forested land, had bulldozers clear it and put ponds where he knew there were underground springs. He turned the properties into working farms, then sold them and scouted for more land. On the way to visit his pieces of property he taught Aaron how to recognize Guernsey and Jersey cows from each other and how to recognize trees that indicated different things about the land.

Back home he pointed to two trees in Aaron’s front yard to show him the difference between an oak and a maple. The oak trees planted by Dr. Masser were bigger around than Aaron could reach. Dr. Masser was bigger than life. He created life. He took care of life. He was the archetypal doctor. How could a syringe buried under a rock fifty feet from the tomatoes tarnish that?

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Medical Novel Table of Contents

Persons, places, events, and situations in this story are purely fictional.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Rough Draft / Under Construction


Home | Table of Contents | It's a Path
Silence versus Patient Safety
Loyalty versus Patient Safety
The White Wall of Silence versus Patient Safety
Blacklisting Patients
Freedom of Speech for Patients
Medical Complaints - How to

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It's a path

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