Surgical patients should be thankful for Doctor's Day

Monday, March 30, 2015

Today's National Doctor's Day, and if you see yours, wish him or her a happy holiday.

More than likely, he or she will be on the job, not giving National Doctor's Day a second thought in the course of caring for patients with everything from minor maladies to life-threatening conditions.

We're fortunate to have access to great medical care throughout Southwest Nebraska, with a shortage of doctors no small concern in years past.

If a U.S. News and World Report site is up to date, two doctors live in Arapahoe, two in Cambridge, three in Imperial and 12 in McCook, although many visiting specialists serve patients in our area as well.

But why was March 30 chosen as National Doctor's Day?

If you've undergone surgery in recent years, you should appreciate the reason.

Dr. Crawford W. Long first used ether anesthesia for surgery on March 30, 1842, removing a tumor from a man's neck.

Following surgery, the man would swear that he felt nothing and was unaware of anything until he awoke.

Long, a college roommate at the University of Georgia with Alexander Stephens future vice president of the Confederate States of America, and a cousin of western legend Doc Holliday, went on to use ether in amputations and childbirth.

While results were published in 1849 in the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal, we don't know if it caught on in time to be of much comfort during the Civil War.

Long died of a stroke at 62, in 1878, shortly after helping to deliver a baby.

Medical care, specifically how to pay for it, has been a topic of dispute for years, especially since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and unfortunately, doctors on the front lines have been forced to deal with the fallout while simply trying to take care of their patients.

Our thanks to doctors, and all those who make it possible for them to do their jobs, on this National Doctor's Day.

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