Category: Huntsville

Redlining: A Tale From the Trenches of Primary Care in America

If you could walk in my shoes, and look through my eyes, as I daily fight the good fight in the trenches of primary care in America, you might see something like this:

It would begin with a fight between two homeless men, probably over some spare change or a scrap of food, under the I-565 bridge. One of them, a 61-year-old black male, would get the worst end of the exchange–a fist fit neatly into the orbit of his right eye, his assailant’s bare knuckles impacting like rocks from a slingshot.

The concussive force of the blow would send a shock wave through the eye and crystalline lens, which is about the size and shape of a plain M&M candy.… Read the rest

Red Fog Rising

When an eye doctor goes blind, there are no special dispensations or exemptions. He does it just like everybody else–one eye at a time.

My recent self-diagnosis of a retinal tear in my right eye took a colorful, and ominous, turn on July 4th. I was driving around Huntsville when a blood vessel which crossed the area of the retina that was treated with laser burst open like a uncapped oil well. No black gold or Texas Tea, Jed, just blood.

It started with a single red ribbon which began to flow upward from my inferior visual field. Other scarlet streaks soon joined it, each dividing into tributaries and tendrils which filled my clear field of view with smoky-red smudge.… Read the rest

How Mary Nell’s Handbell Got Saved

Jesus said to “Love they neighbor” and “thy enemy.” But what do you do when the person who lives next door to you is both?

I guess there aren’t any special dispensations for that scenario. You’re just supposed to suck it up and go. When it came to Mary Nell, our neighbor from 1995-2011, we tried–and failed–over and over and over.

We first met Mary Nell in August 1995 when we stopped by Corley Drive to check out the 10-year-old brick rancher with the huge backyard that had just gone on the market.

Well, “met” only if you count a dried-up prune of a little old lady glaring at you through window blinds as a “meeting.”… Read the rest

Homeless Hank’s Christmas Miracle Turkey

I smelled it long before I saw it. You’ve seen those cartoons where the character catches a whiff of a powerful, pleasant odor and suddenly rises off the ground, borne along by the fumes like a slave in chains. That was me, right before lunchtime a couple of days ago in my clinic.

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter. I’m used to the pungent odor of burned popcorn coming from the break room microwave, but this was different; more like Sunday brunch at the Ritz. It was deep brown, slightly crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, seasoned with just the right amount of rosemary, garlic and basil.… Read the rest

Senior Coffee

I bought my first bottle of cheap wine in the fall of 1984 at a small convenience store near my apartment in Blacksburg, Virginia. By then I had graduated from Harding and moved on to Virginia Tech, so I didn’t run the risk of having two bullet-less Barney Fifes in a golf cart accosting me and frog-marching me to the Dean’s office for immediate expulsion.

I knew they often nabbed Harding students out celebrating their 21st birthdays at restaurants in Little Rock, but alumni in Blacksburg? Surely, purity had its mileage limits. The peace of mind and freedom were more intoxicating than the wine would ever be.… Read the rest

A Moral Paper Bag

My wife often substitutes at a local private school, one of the area’s finest.  It is where many of Huntsville’s professional elite send their children to be prepped and to gain that special leg-up that only money can buy.

Sometimes, she comes home and tells me stories.

Yesterday, she read her 5th graders the short story, “Thank You, Ma’am” by the noted 20th-century African-American writer Langston Hughes. In it a young boy with a hankering for a pair of  “blue suede shoes” decides to steal the purse of Mrs. Luella Bates Washington Jones, a hairdresser who is walking home one evening after leaving her shift at a local hotel.… Read the rest

“Huntsville International”–A Rap Song I Actually Like, Yo!

I’ve never been afraid to embarrass my sons with my bungled attempts at humor and middle age antics–I consider it part of the job description of being a “Dad.” But truth be told, whenever I do something they think is cool, it thrills me to no end. But please don’t tell them that, because that would ruin everything.

For instance, my recent acquisition of a taste for (and reputation for listening to) rap music. Well, not all rap music, but one song in particular–“Huntsville International” by the local rap group, G-Side.

Here’s how a mortuary-white, hopelessly off-beat, middle age, pointy-headed pseudo-intellectual got turned on to a piece of hip-hop:

I’ve a long-time fan of the magazine Oxford American, which is sort of a distinctly Southern version of The New Yorker or The Atlantic.… Read the rest

I May Have “Pink Eye,” But I’m No Commie

In the aftermath of the tornadoes in Alabama, armies of Good Samaritans have rushed to our aid with a million good deeds. Taking up their various instruments of mercy, they have come to attention as the Master Conductor has waved his wand, and the resultant symphony of compassion has been sweet, soothing music to our ears.

But they say “no good deed goes unpunished.” “They” are right.

When cell phone service returned to near normal two days after the storm struck, I downloaded my email and saw that a local church was offering an 8:00 AM communion service followed by an opportunity to go into the tornado-stricken areas around Harvest north of town and help out.… Read the rest

Special Edition: The Eye of the Storm

Last Friday, the most powerful man in the world and his wife were walking through the debris-strewn streets of Tuscaloosa, Alabama when they came upon two university students picking through the remains of what had formerly been their apartment. Looking up, the students’ eyes widened in surprise as they struggled to mentally digest this extraordinary development.

President Obama stuck out his hand in greeting, and the two students quickly gathered themselves, took off their gloves which were coated with a patina of dust and fiberglass, and held out their own in return. In doing so, they touched the hand that only hours before had been lifted in command, setting into motion events that reaped their own powerful whirlwind in a far distant land.… Read the rest

I Am Dr. Michael Brown, Optometrist; I Am Not @plutokiller

My name is Dr. Michael Brown, aka “Mike the Eyeguy,” and I’m an optometrist who has always loved Disney characters and small, remote planets.

I would never kill Pluto. I may be more of a Goofy Man myself, but I have no interest in dissing  Mickey Mouse’s lesser-known pet pooch. Nor have I supported demoting poor little Pluto from the status of noble, outermost outpost planet, guarding the far boundaries of our Solar System from alien invasion, to a mere member among many in the Kuiper belt, a rather shady band of steroid-enhanced asteroids and dwarf planets.

And I think I can speak for the other three Dr.… Read the rest

Like Wool

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

–Isaiah 1:18

I am sending out this dispatch from Ground Zero of The End of Days, Huntsville, Alabama.

Although I have yet to whip out the measuring stick, there appears to be about 8 inches of snow on my patio. To top it all, tonight Auburn plays for the national championship in college football. It appears the Mayans were almost right, just off by a year.

We are warm and toasty.… Read the rest

Good Geezer, Bad Geezer

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about my impending geezerhood.

Actually, I think a lot about it every week since the majority of my patients are on the far side of fifty and serve as a “sneak preview” of the doctor visits, pills, surgeries and saggy body parts which are waiting for me just up the road around the next bend–if I’m lucky. Each day I stare mortality in the face, and it stares right back at me, sticks out its tongue, and proceeds to regal me with stories of blurry vision, “itchy-burny” eyes and prostrate problems.

Yes, apparently spending inordinate amounts of time stretched out with one’s face to the ground in the universal posture of adoration or submission is something that all of us guys have to look forward to.… Read the rest

Optometrist Quits Job, Goes Optical

Huntsville police and SWAT teams are currently at the scene of a hostage situation in the Medical District.

An optometrist (OD) employed at an ObamaCare-affiliated medical clinic (the one with the new Death Panel drive-thru window) is apparently fed-up to his eyeballs with all the incessant yik-yak from his patients, the constant sniping and backstabbing from co-workers and the drowning deluge of mind-numbing emails, bureaucratic buzzwords and meaningless acronyms (MNEMBBMA) raining down from his overlords on Mt. Olympus.

The OD–OMe! OMy!–has apparently quit his job and gone optical.

Police will identify him only as “Mike the Eyeguy.” According to a department spokesperson, Dr.… Read the rest

The All-Important First Touch

So much for another “stouuury book endin’.” Instead, another World Cup, another loss to a more organized, powerful and faster Ghanan team. The “Great Equalizer” strikes again.

I can’t say I’m shocked given the fine players Ghana has (and two of their best weren’t even on the pitch), but I am disappointed that the US National Team squandered a fine chance to equal and perhaps surpass their best finish ever in World Cup play. Poor possession and defensive organization led to the first goal (even US keeper Tim Howard, one of the world’s best, was about a step off in cutting down the angle and protecting that near post), but the overtime game winner by Asamoah “Baby Jet” Gyan was pure soccer artistry.… Read the rest