George Washington and me

george washington image

For most of my life I’ve admired him from a distance.

George Washington was someone I knew from history classes in school and from biographies I’ve read as an adult.  He deserves to be remembered with gratitude for his role in the founding of our country.

But then, yesterday, the former President and I suddenly had something in common.

I went to see my primary care physician early yesterday morning with a sore throat.  I was certain it was a strep infection.  I couldn’t swallow without pain.  But then I can be dangerous when attempting to make diagnoses while surfing the Internet.  I’ve convinced myself that I’ve had all sorts of serious illnesses, just by reading WebMD.

The primary care physician took a look at my throat and suggested I head over to the ER.  Which I did.  After the usual wait, the ER doctor took one look at my throat and said, “Oh, yeah.”  I like quick diagnoses.  I never want to be anyone’s interesting case.  The ER doctor sent me up to the seventh floor to see the “ear, nose, and throat guy,” who wouldn’t be back from lunch until 1:30.

“How are you today?” he asked cheerily, as he entered the examination room.  By that time I couldn’t answer without pain.

So, he took a look at my throat and said, “George Washington died from that.”

Now, just think, George and I have something in common, with the big exception that I have access to antibiotics.  After a quick, but nasty little procedure involving a lot of blood and pus (one reason many people do not go into health care professions), I was on my way with a bunch of pills, including some Vicodin.  I even stopped in the hospital cafeteria for a little ice cream to celebrate.

On the way home in the car I remembered hearing a similar comment during the birth of our first child.  My wife had been in labor for hours and hours.  (She doesn’t want me to give the actual time, but it was a long time.)  Finally, our OB came into the delivery room and said, “Oh, a hundred years ago, you would have labored and labored and then died.  I think we should do a c-section.”  Of course we quickly agreed.

I’m thankful for antibiotics and other drugs. I’m thankful for the breakthroughs of modern medicine.  I suspect people will look back a hundred years from now and marvel over the painful and barbaric treatments we use today, but right now I’m more grateful than I can say to be alive (and to be the father of a very healthy 29 year old, who came into the world through a c-section).

George Washington ultimately died by suffocating.  For hours, like me, he couldn’t swallow.  And then, at the end, he couldn’t breathe.  It was a painful way to go.

I am more thankful today than I can say.  There’s nothing like a little visit to the doctor’s office to put the rest of life into perspective.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

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13 Responses to George Washington and me

  1. Lizzy February 26, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Doug Brouwer- 1, George Washington-0 🙂

    Glad to hear that you are feeling better!!

    • Doug February 26, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      Your birth was uneventful, sweetheart, which sounds boring, I know, but I’m very glad for that! We were just as happy to see you, pink and happy!

    • Georgia Hamilton February 28, 2013 at 10:41 am #

      Oh, how eloquently (and humorously too)stated about the value of Dr.’s
      and health care in general! by the way, my elbow replacement surgery went well—stitches come out tomorrow!


      • Doug February 28, 2013 at 11:08 am #

        Glad to hear it, Georgia! Elbow replacement isn’t something I hear about very much. I hope yours gives lots of relief.

  2. Bob Sadowski February 26, 2013 at 11:31 am #

    and back then no one was able to get a pacemaker, so your heart just kept on slowing down until you died, now the doctor can “talk” to your pacemaker and make adjustments through the telephone. I wonder if your pacemaker will demand its own cell phone?

  3. Miss Mandana Sharifi February 26, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I pray for your quick recovery as we need you to do what you do best on Sundays,,,preaching the word. GOD bless you…FYI…a glass of warm water & honey always works for my legendary artists prior to going on stage.. Mother & I wish you well…Mandana.

  4. Bob Sadowski February 26, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    rum is my remedy.

  5. Sandy Steffen February 26, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    I agree with Bob!! Feel better quickly!!! ( :

    • Doug February 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

      Alcohol is not what the throat needs right now!

  6. Gloria Neer February 27, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    When Howard was in medical school, and discuss with fellow medical students what they ‘had learned in school that day’, I was certain I had every symptom and/or ailment that they were learning about!! Now. as with you, all I have to do is go to the internet!!

  7. Lynda February 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I am among the many who are pleased that you were saved by antibiotics. Enjoy the Vicodin also, and get back to preaching!

  8. ENT Los Angeles August 24, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    Dr. Farhad Sigari is an Otolaryngologist, specializing in conditions of the Ear Nose Throat. His

    medical office location is in Marina Del Rey, Los Angeles CA.

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