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Patients Are People, Too
The Memoirs of Trester Smith Harris, M.D.

Chapter 1
Introduction

In thirty years of medical practice, there are many interesting and amusing occurrences. I have endeavored to bring into focus some of these for the sole purpose of entertaining, and not necessarily of educating the reader. In order to avoid embarrassing any of my very wonderful patients, all names have been changed, and if a name should be that of a living person, it is strictly coincidental.
 
I have enjoyed the practice of medicine. In general or family practice, especially, I have been able to come closer to the various families involved, and having attended births, weddings, and funerals of the patients over the years, I felt as if I were a member of the families.
 
But the times change. As the years passed, many families moved away from our Crenshaw [Los Angeles, California] area: some to San Fernando Valley, others to Orange County, and still others to Riverside County. Although many of them continued to come in to see me, I realized it was a hardship to come so far, and they really should find a doctor in their neighborhood to depend on, so I decided to retire from the area myself. It was a wonderful area, one of homes and fine people, but there comes an end to everything. But the memories of all those nice people still lives, as thirty of the best years of my life were spent among them.

My wife has been very patient during all these years. There were times she had to break social engagements, re-heat meals, and wait interminably for me to come in. It really requires an unusual woman to successfully be a doctor’s wife, and I was blessed with just such a woman.

There have been times when I was so tired it was almost impossible for me to practice medicine, or to drive home at three o’clock in the morning, yet I had to arise at 6:30 for 7:30 surgery many times. One night the phone rang and I answered. I couldn’t understand a word, for awhile, until I discovered I had the receiver upside down. Another time I thought I answered the phone, yet it kept ringing. It happened that I picked up the small table lamp, and my wife had to waken me to really answer the phone.

There was no danger in making house calls then, either day or night, and there was not one time in thirty years that I was robbed, assaulted, or bothered in any way. And I never refused to make a house call, except for one time when the caller was obviously drunk. We could not communicate properly, and I did not like to treat drunks anyway. After all, they are not sick, as some people indicate, but are guilty of imposing a self-inflicted condition that they well could do without.
 




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About the author
Trester Smith Harris, M.D. was born in Konawa, Oklahoma Territory, on October 17, 1903. His father was also a medical doctor. Dr. Harris was in private practice for many years in Los Angeles, then worked for a few years at a the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, California. After retirement, he wrote these memoirs about 1973. He passed away on September 21, 1975.

Note: This memoir of my father’s experiences and opinions is not intended to constitute medical advice. If you have medical questions, consult qualified medical authorities.


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