Physicians and Patients,
Life changing stories of Primary care.
University of Wisconsin Press.
Is the name of the book, and to my surprise is still available. (a niece who saw a copy in my house wrote to the Press and was able to get a copy!)
Jeff Borkan, a member of the Department of Family Medicine, was an editor of this book in the making and asked me would I recount one or two stories for the book. It so happened, that during the first part of my sabbatical at Duke University I had taken a writing class, so I was quite enthusiastic to test out my newly enhanced writing skills. I wrote two patient stories that in due course I sent off to Jeff entitled - The Alternative Patient, and The Next Generation, both of which were published in the book.
Thur 16th Feb.1996
I took the day off and Irene and I drove to Tel Aviv, only about an hour away to drive from B.Sheva. Unbelievable how small this country is in the huge Middle East, and how the Arabs resent its creativity, prosperity and industry and would, for the most part like nothing better than to wipe it off the face of the earth. Walked around down town looking at the buildings, the people and the shops. Some turkey backed into my car downtown, trying to turn in a street about 3 feet wide with cars parked on each side. Since there was no damage done to either car we parted amicably after a polite exchange. We drove down to the seashore along the coast road and then parked and walked up to Ben Yahuda St. where we found some very nice restaurants and settled on one called Bebeles, and enjoyed a very good 'typical Askenazi Jewish' meal including chopped liver, fried kreplach, cabbage rolls, tzimas and salad. We were getting a little tired of hummus, tahini and falafel etc.
February 16, 1996
Today we went to Ashkelon, this is where Delila cut off poor Samson's hair and drained his strength, where Herod was born, and where there was much evidence of places where crusaders and Romans had dwelt. Ashkelon has beautiful beaches, and a National Antiquities park, in which are some fascinating archeological finds including some remarkable sculptures. By this time it was getting dark, so I hoped my photos by flashlight would do them justice. We will certainly have to go back by daylight and take another look at this area. Earlier we walked along the beach coming to a little cluster of restaurants and shops, including a scuba rental store. Went in and got some information re rentals etc. in case David comes. Apparently they have weekend diving locally, as well as excursions elsewhere. Drive to Beer Sheva took under an hour.
Went to visit Nimrod Shosun and family at his Moshav (village) in the western Negev. The Moshav is called Dekal. Nimrod is a Family Physician who is a part-timer in the Dept of F.M.,and invited us to visit him as soon as I arrived in the Dept. He lives in a moshav in the W Negev, about 50 km SW of Beer Sheva. His wife is a nurse who works with him in the Kupat Cholim Clinic. He also looks after a couple of kibbutzim in the area. In addition to their medical duties, both of them operate a mango and lemon farm. The fields are behind their home, and the sandy soil in which they grow, requires irrigation and fertilization. Soon after we arrived Nimrod took us on a tour of the orchards and showed us with pride the lemon trees which bear fruit in all seasons, and the mango trees which give fruit in the fall.
After a pleasant and prolonged lunch,Nimrod took us on a tour of the surrounding district, showing us a monument to the dead of the six day war. Here, in the centre of the monument is a very tall observation tower. A staircase winds upwards in tight recurrent spirals to an observation deck from which can be seen the meeting of three borders, Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip. From here we headed out along the road to Gaza. We soon arrived at the check-point and stood taking photos of the crossing until the soldiers on guard came up to us and told us politely that we weren't allowed to take photos at this point and that there was a notice saying this. For a while I wondered whether they were going to take the film away, but they didn't, finishing up with 'have a nice day',in English. Went back to the Shosun's and chatted for a while before taking off for home.
An enjoyable and interesting day.
Sunday Feb 18th
Work for a change. Worked on the low back pain project.
Monday Feb 19th
Left for Kibbutz Katura to visit Jeff Borkan and wife Suzanne. Drove by the Mizpa Ramon route, past the great Ramon Crater. the crater is 40km long and 2-10km wide. The story of its formation is fascinating. Truly astounding scenery most of the way. On the way down we passed Sde Boker, David Ben Gurion's Kibbutz in the Negev, to which Ben Gurion would retire for renewal for time to time, and to which he ultimately retired. What a visionary he must have been! At a time when Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were regarded by most as the most vital areas of the country, Ben Gurion already realized the vital importance of this part of the country and stated that Israel's future lay in the Negev. The scenery was spectacular and diverse. The mountains of Jordan to our left as we drove south presented an ever changing kaleidoscope of colours, oranges, rust-browns, copper-greens, grays, pinks and reds. To the right were the smaller ranges of the Judean Hills. We stopped to admire the scenery, take some photographs, and have some lunch. After lunch we continued on through the forest of spontaneous growing foccacia trees to Kibutz Ketura, opposite a date-palm oasis. We drove in through the kibbutz gates, and I used one of my few Ivrit phrases, "speak English?" Everyone did. So I asked, "where's Jeff's?" We were pointed in the right direction anad made our way to Jeff"s . The kibbutz surroundings were attractive and Jeff and Susanne, the couple we were visiting live in a small bungalow, together with their three children. The living quarters are very small, and we were accommodated in a separate apt., which was probably one of the original kibbutz homes. We had supper in the dining-room, a sparse meal, mainly of salads, cream cheese and herring, adequate but not appetizing, and short on the protein. We took a walk around the kibbutz, where one family had a pet camel tied up outside their house, which the children came out to feed. The camel makes a strange roaring sound like a lion, and contrary to usual camel behaviour seemed very good-natured.
We woke up at the crack of dawn to the sounds of the birds - and the trucks. we grabbed a quick bite of breakfast, suspiciously reminiscent of the previous nights dinner, and headed out to a nearby kibbutz, where Jeff carries on a clinic. Irene went for a walk while Jeff and I saw patients at the clinic. The chair of the department had asked me to make observations and recommendations regarding the many rural clinics I visited and comment aout how they compared with Canadian rural practices. There was a considerable cross-section of clinical disorders, ranging from the minor to the major. It was of interest to me that the Kibbutz employs a number Thai workers, mainly as fruit-pickers. Jeff thought the official figures were 30,000 Thai workers. Probably there were more, he thought. We saw a couple of them at the clinic. It was very difficult as they spoke only Thai. The technique was to phone an interpreter, and once on the line the patient would relate the problems to the interpreter, who would then relay it to the doctor. Then the phone would be passed back and forth, and the story relayed. Time consuming and sometimes the translators skills aren't the best, but it's the best that is available.
After the clinic was over we drove to Eilat. Following along the awesome Jordanian Mountains, the border a mere few hundred metres to our left, we arrived at the Red Sea and Eilat in a short while. We spent a while on the beach, then walked along the promenade, looking into various shops, then around back to our car. We drove back up the Eilat Road back to Beer Sheva by the Dead Sea route. Took us about two and a half hours to get home.
Wed 21 Feb.
Went to work this am and picked up a bunch of mail that was dispatched express from home. It took 11 days to get here. In the mail was a sad note informing me of the death of my old school friend, Bernard Green. The note was from his wife, with no return address. I must try to get her address so I can send a note. Bernie and I were the closest of friends during our formative years, and were in and out of many scrapes.