The Doctor’s Office

The Doctor's Office

My mother worked as an assistant to the town and country doctor back in the 80’s in a small town in the heartland of the USA. We lived about 30 miles from the world famous Mayo Clinic, but I was unaware of this until much later in my life. My childhood memories are before computerized medical records and patient privacy laws came into full practice. I feel old just admitting that fact!

My sisters and I from a young age were able to enter the rooms of willing patients and watch certain procedures such as sutures being administered. We also got to “work” in the office filing billings and patient histories (which were hand written by the Doctor on index style cards in a unique and barely legible style) My mother and a few other people were the only ones who could decipher the Doctor’s handwritten codes!

One of my “jobs”” after school would be to file the patient cards by last name. I was about 7 years old at the time. I asked the Doc what hemoglobin was and if a certain patient had a certain disease based on his blood (I had watched the patient’s blood draw procedure as it coagulated in a blue kidney shaped dish) It was extremely thick and I will never forget it, the patient was also a neighbor of ours.

The doctor apparently had a talk with my mom and terminated me from my job as filer. I was notified of my termination at the dinner table. I was devastated. I didn’t understand how being smart or being able to read words larger than cat, sat and rat could get me terminated!

Neither my Mother nor the Doctor knew I could read large words in his handwritten scribbles on the cards when they assigned the position of professional alphabetical filer to a 7 year old. They never knew how heartbroken I was to be demoted to stock girl. I recently told my mom about this and she had no recollection of it!

I am so grateful for the experiences growing up in the Doctor’s office.I I stocked medical supplies, watched the oscillator spin samples of blood, dug through huge colorful medical encyclopedias on the Doctor’s desk, played in the back storage room full of medical samples, put on the extremely heavy cloaks in the x-ray room while pretending to heal the sick, looked at hours of x-rays of broken bones, and and delivered prescriptions to the local drug store for patients.

I was paid very well. I received 25 cents per day which I always spent on a bag of candy from the dime store. Every once in awhile, I would splurge and spend it all at the uptown bakery for a Long John or Jelly doughnut hand made from the wonderful people at the bakery. They all knew we “worked” for the doctor and never charged us the extra 2 cents for tax! I guess it was a nice perk.

Our experiences as young girls are not allowed in today’s medical world, at least not to the degree we were allowed. Sometimes I wonder if it is good or bad, but either way, I hold the experiences near and dear to my heart. I hope in some settings a certain degree of this young hands on learning is still available.

The founders of the Mayo Clinic Dr. Charlie Mayo and Dr. William mayo learned everything from their father,  Dr.W.W Mayo. They were raised as young boys during that time to become physicians. I wonder sometimes if they had the laws we have now, if they would have been able to have the hands on experiences which made each brother into historical figures.

We must as a society become creative to find ways to nurture medical and scientific genius within our children in my opinion. I hope we are using technology to bring information to young minds while still protecting patient right’s  and general health precautionary practices, of course.

Back in my day, a hot scrub of the hands with a little soap was all we needed to pass the test to enter a room to watch a procedure. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer was not yet an option. Now, I feel REALLY old!

My parent’s bought the Doctor’s house and have lived here for over 20 years. I sit and type this now at the same desk Dr. Kulstad would have sat. He was a rare an unique individual. Humorous and gentle, he was a huge influence in my life and continues to be.

My love for science and medicine stems from my childhood experiences at the Doctor’s office. I figured I would end up in one of those fields of research, but instead I am a co-producer and co-host of an internet radio show!

My childhood experiences in the office setting is part of why I love the study of light, sound and healing. I hope to bring guests on our Lounge Talk Radio Show who will expound on those principals and help humanity reach our highest potential individually and collectively!

Peace and Love
Thanks for reading xxx
Gretchen Cooper


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