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Thankful for local hospitals

There’s nothing like a few hours in a hospital waiting room to get your priorities straight. I admit the decorators at King’s Daughters Medical Center have done a good job with their palette of soothing greens on the walls and well-cushioned chairs, but there’s just no way to soften some scenarios. Even happy births have their serious side.

So we wait, and I have time to consider how this community hospital has served my extended family through births and beyond, providing all the prognoses and procedures that make up a lifetime of health history. My husband was born here while his father pastored Montgomery Baptist Church. My grandfather spent time on the same floor where two of our children were delivered decades later.

Downstairs, my mom was diagnosed with the stuff those pink ribbons are for. When I was a teenager, we came to visit an ill relative and were surprised to see my brother being wheeled down the hall. It seems he failed to mention a certain motorcycle accident and the need for a bit of surgery.

Our most notable KDMC story, however, involves my dad. In fact, the biography of the man sitting beside me in the waiting room during our family’s latest birthing adventure would read quite differently were it not for the facility.

In 1939, he had an emergency splenectomy at the old location at the corner of N. Jackson and W. Congress Streets. That was back when medical centers were just hospitals, and primary care physicians were just doctors. He was seven. From all indications, the surgery was the first of its kind in the area.

At least that’s what Dr. Atkinson told my grandmother, though he would later perform many such operations on wounded soldiers during World War II.

Dr. Atkinson, however, didn’t do my dad’s surgery. Instead, a two-man team from Jackson arrived on a Sunday morning to do the deed. The patient lost so much blood during the operation that my grandfather Solon (isn’t that a cool name?) later lay on a table beside him and shared some of his own.

In those days, the successful removal of a spleen made the papers, and we have a yellowed account that reported “every effort known to medical science was resorted to, to save the unfortunate victim’s life.”

The recuperating youngster remained in bed for 30 days, after which he was allowed to get up – and learn to walk again.

And while an array of circumstances have landed my offspring in KDMC’s emergency room — a puncture wound, viral meningitis, RSV, a broken fibula — in my dad’s case it was a mule with a powerful kick. But he doesn’t place any blame.

“We were making brush brooms. The mule was hooked up to a wagon and must have thought I was going to whack him,” he remembers.

As a child, I marveled at the long scar my dad carries, seen only on rare occasions when we visited the Moose Lodge pool. Today, watching him enjoy his cup of coffee while we wait, I’m reminded to be thankful for local hospitals. Especially when they deliver our newest grand-darling, safe and sound.

Welcome to the world, Grace Joanna. Welcome to the world.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.