December 29th, 1965
Well we are getting pretty far down on the shank of another year. The older you get, the faster they fly.
We are spending the Christmas Holiday at Tuchodi. What a place to relax, get some rest and get a little writing done. No telephone, no T.V. and no visiting. Well we’ve been here a week, we’re relaxed and rested but writing uh uh. I’ve cut wood (it is 40 below zero to-night), overhauled the Skidoo (power toboggan), tuned up the power saw and referred the odd kid fight but so far have not set pen to paper.
To-night Mother said, “Don, if we don’t get a Christmas letter written before we get home, you know it won’t be done”. I know she is right because leisure time is non-existent in our St. John environment, but what could I write about? “Why don’t you write about some of your hunting experiences”, says the good woman, always the willing helpmate, “people always seem interested in those”. This starts wheels to turning but where could I begin? A lot of my experiences that make fair campfire copy look pretty pallid when put down on paper. I wonder if anyone would care to hear about my experiences with the Doctors? To my surprise Mother opines that it might make a fair diversion so herewith, for what it is worth and with the apologies of the writer, is a true experience from my 1965 hunting activities.
During my many years as a big game outfitter, one thing has always caused me some concern and I think the same thoughts must occur occasionally to all conscientious outfitters. What would you do if you were out in the hills and one of the party contacted a real serious illness? I’m sure that during my span in the hills I’ve doctored my share of bumps, bites and bruises and to date have effected 100% cures. I’ve never lost a customer. My theory has always been “keep it clean” and it will heal up and hair over on it’s own accord. To date this treatment has served me well but what would be your course of action if you had a mess of broken limbs to contend with or an acute appendix or any one of a dozen respiratory ailments that could be aggravated by over-exertion or misfortune?
I reflected as I walked over to the plane to meet my four man Michigan party, “I won’t have that concern on this trip as three of these fellers are Doctors”. One was a leading gynecologist from a large city in central Michigan, his partner was a orthopaedist from the same town, while the third doctor was a surgeon and general practitioner from a small upstate town. The 4th member of the party was a plumber.
Although it has no bearing on the portion of the story to which I am now referring, it should be noted here that this particular party proved to be tops as sportsmen, good companions and an everlasting pleasure to hunt with although I must confess that we got off to a somewhat dubious start. The story proceeds-
My complacence was furthered when I helped unload the pack horse load of pills and painkillers that they had seen fit to tote along, it was obvious they’d come prepared for all emergencies.
The hunt got under way with the usual question and answer period, and artillery barrage while the guns were being sited in and the final pairing off of hunters and guides.
The surgeon and I headed downstairs for a few days on a combined grizzly and elk hunt and it was the 4th morning when, our mission accomplished, that I became aware that all was not well on one end of the operation. The Doc confided that as yet he had not had a bowel movement. I was slightly concerned but as we were travelling light and heading in the next day, I figured we’d be able to get assistance from his colleagues.
Back at the ranch and safe in the hands of two highly efficient doctors, all should have been well but it soon became obvious that it was not as the gynecologist said, “If you were pregnant I’d know what to do but under the circumstances well” “That’s right”, chimed in the orthopaedist, “if you would break your leg or something simple, I’d know what to do but I just wouldn’t worry about being constipated. Everything will come out alright, it always does”. I began to have a sneaking suspicion that we’d come to the wrong clinic. It was obvious that our hero was bound up tighter than the proverbial fiddle string. The plumber said, “If you’ll hold him Don, I’ll fix things in the reluctant rectum by inserting a sharp piece of green soap”. Vague memories from my early childhood, where Mother had a home remedy for everything, told me that here was a plan with merit. The simplicity of applying a sharp subject to a hard object appealed to me, but this plan was ruled out as being too harsh by the attending physician.
Meanwhile, the patient continued to expand. He measured 5′ 8″ and weighed 220 when he stopped off the plane. Although he had temporarily lost the use of his disposal department, his appetite continued to be enormous. All this talk about letting nature take it’s course and so on is well and good when you are not going to be held responsible for the consequences. In this instance I was all for giving nature what assistance we could. For one thing the rotund figure of the patient was beginning to take on an inflated and pudgy look and I was becoming fearful of an explosion. The prospects of an explosion of this type in the confines of a hunting lodge were horrible to contemplate. But alas the best efforts from all concerned couldn’t extract as much as a puff of foul air from the beleaguered Doc.
The 7th day of the hunt dammed bright and clear. While the healthier members of the party set out in quest of the big game trophies, I elected to stay home and concentrate on a cure for the ailing surgeon.
Had this been a problem relating to the acquiring of trophies, the finding of horses or any other outside activity, I would have taken counsel with my native guides. but as this was what could be termed an inside problem and setting upon the old adage that two heads are better than one, I decided to talk things over with the cook. To maintain good liaison with the grub dispenser is essential in a camp, and over the years I have had some marvellous cooks and Paul rates with the beet, he was priceless. He listened to my problems which were by now fast becoming common camp gossip. His first comments were, “There are more ways of killing a cat than by pouring hot butter up his bun”. By which you mean what”, says I. “ell I’ve got the dope here that will literally move the devil out of hell if we can get him to take it”. “He’s sure enough pretty skeptical about these patent medicines”, I says, “but he’s getting real desperate, I think he’ll try most anything”. “What have you got to offer that’s so potent”?
Paul started rummaging through his ruck sack and presently comes up with a trail battered container. The front of the box was adorned with a picture. of a fierce looking Indian Chief, complete with war paint and eagle head-dress. “This”, says Paul, is Big Chief Black Hakk’s Blood and Body Tonic”. “Hell”, I says, “that’s no good, I think his blood’s 0.K, it’s his blow hole we’re trying to open up, “Can’t you read”, comes back Paul as he puts the container in my hand and points at the fine print on the back of the box. The whole thing smacks of the ole time medicine show and the carnival barked to me, but as I read on I see that the manufacturer claims that this potent powder that I now have in my hand is a sure fire laxative, it is also good for relieving head and chest colds, colic, insomnia, quinsy and ingrown toe nails. It also could be used as an antidote for rabies and makes an excellent laundry detergent. That sure enough. looks like the real stuffs, I tell Paul, but we better keep that container out of sight”. “Besides that, says Paul, I would recommend it for coughs, colds, sore holes and pimples on your peter. Now listen to me”, I says, “if we are going to get this learned man to take this wonder drug, we’ve got to put it up to him as a tried and true laxative, nothing more, nothing less and that is your Job. I’ll get him over here”. The latter won’t hard to do. I used hot cinnamon rolls and coffee as a lure. Once in the cook shack, Paul started expounding the strength of his laxative. The man got interested and with me holding and Paul holding and pouring, you would never believe how easy it was to get a double dose of Black Hawk’s tonic down the threat of the dubious Dos. I then hit for the corral to wait the results. They sure were’nt long in coming.
As the good man’s time drew near his cohorts, like wise men out of the East, arrived to take charge of the delivery. At 3:15 P.M. Mountain Standard Time the patient made his initial passage. All present agree that it could only be described as a plopping success. There was only one way the man could go and that was ahead. It was obvious he could have never backed over it.
And so one more crisis in our lives had passed and disaster has been averted. That is one time if had anyone asked me if I was practicing medicine I’d of said, “Brother, your’e right, practicing is the word”.
This story was told for your amusement and I hope in a small way it did just that. However, the story could be used to point out a change that has taken place in the medical profession. To-day so many of our more brilliant doctors are so highly specialized that they seem to have lost the good reasoning power and all around common sense we used to associate with the general practitioner. We certainly had it demonstrated to us in a most illustrious fashion. Here were three successful doctors with thousands of dollars worth of education behind them but without their laboratories and familiar surroundings, couldn’t cure a common case of constipation. This must surely be one of mankind’s oldest anatomical problems.
And so we are back at Tuchodi for the holiday. Many of our friends wonder what on earth would possess parents to take a family, with some small children, out of a comfortable home in the dead of winter and fly back into the mountains where the accommodation is primitive by comparison. Well there are a lot of reasons why we came to Tuchodi. We like it here. It is nice and peaceful and the mountains are just beautiful but we also like to teach the kids a few things. We want them to know that when that ole mercury is knocking on 40 below and your’e heating the shack with wood, you’d better get in quite a bit or you’re going to be cold before morning. We want them to know that if they want water and the crik is frozen over, the sooner they start chopping the sooner they’re going to get er.
These lessons might seem ridiculously simple to a lot of people but Judging from the younguns we meet nowadays, there’s not many learning them.
Now to anyone who has read this far, we’d like to wish you the very best of Health and Happiness for 1966.