Two weeks ago last Monday, I was sitting in Dr. John Hollon’s office on West Main Street. I was there to have him examine me for the same flu and bronchitis symptoms that have been prevalent throughout the community for the last several months.
I like Dr. Hollon’s office. It has character. There are historic pictures on the wall, and just to pass the time, I looked at them at length. Soon, my mind began to drift back to another time and place.
Our original family doctor, Dr. William Wead of Sabina, provided care to the Haley family long before I was born. In fact, he delivered me at my parents’ home in Port William.
As I grew to know him, I learned a couple of essential truths about Dr. Wead: He strongly believed in penicillin, and if you showed up in his office for any reason, chances were good you were going to get a shot, usually in the rear end.
Let me be clear — I don’t like shots. As a young boy, I thought it prudent to avoid visits to the doctor for that very reason.
Dr. Wead’s office had character, too. The strong smell from a variety of pills stored high within the large glass bottles came wafting into the waiting room when his nurse, Gladys, opened the large wooden door. It was the scent of healing.
No prescriptions were written. If oral medications were needed, Dr. Wead would open a small white paper envelope and place a few pills inside.
I often hoped against all hope that Dr. Wead would one day say, “Pat, you won’t need a shot now. We’re just going to give you a few pills.”
It never happened.
Around my sixth birthday, I woke up with a sore throat. My mother decided I needed to see Dr. Wead, and within the hour we were in Sabina. As usual, the waiting room was packed.
We waited and waited until finally I asked my mom if I could go outside for some fresh air. She stared at me suspiciously for a long time before responding, “Yes, but you stay in front of the office. Dr. Wead will be seeing you very soon.”
As I walked out the door, I made my first life-changing decision. I was going to hide in order to avoid getting a shot. I stepped out on the sidewalk and happened to see Earl Milburn standing near the alley. “Pat, where are you going?” Earl asked.
“I’m going to hide. I’m not getting another shot from Dr. Wead,” I foolishly replied, as I ran down the alley beside Miller’s Five and Ten.
I noticed a small shack behind the store and decided that would be a good place to hide. I opened the door and slid behind a large box. Suddenly, the door swung open, my mom grabbed me by the shirt, and quickly escorted me back to Dr. Wead’s office.
Earl had squealed on me.
I knew I was in big trouble. I had just sat down when Gladys announced, “Pat Haley. Dr. Wead is ready to see you.”
I thought about crying, but the scowl on my mother’s face discouraged the idea. “My throat doesn’t hurt anymore,” I told Dr. Wead. “I bet a couple of pills are all I need.”
“Let me take a look,” the doctor said as he looked down my throat, peering over his glasses while depressing my tongue with a flat wooden stick. “You’ll need some penicillin,” he assured.
Of course he gave me a shot.
“Pat Haley,” nurse Ellen Marine called, jarring me from my peaceful daze. “Dr. Hollon will be right with you,” Ellen said pleasantly, after taking my vital signs.
Within a moment, I heard a gentle knock on the door. Dr. Hollon greeted me warmly. “How are you today, Pat? Good to see you.”
After completing the examination, he sat down and thoroughly discussed my treatment.
After my exam, I did something I rarely do. I returned to the waiting room and sat down momentarily. As I watched the steady flow of patients, I thought how Dr. Hollon has favorably touched so many lives over the years. Day in and day out, he sees patients with a variety of ailments, and to those patients at that moment, he has made a major difference in their lives.
The reward must be great for Dr. Hollon, seeing people getting better with his medical care. In my case, time was the healer. However, so often he has changed the outcome of serious illnesses, and has even saved the lives of his patients by consistently making the proper diagnosis.
Dr. Hollon is a dedicated physician, getting up on most days before the sun to make his rounds at the local hospital. He is a caring man, and treats everyone with a kindness that has marked his practice for decades.
And best of all, he has never given me a shot. Not once.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.