Monthly Archives: March 2016

Midwest Book Review of Carrying The Black Bag


My book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales recently received this wonderful review in Midwest Book Review. I am gratified to share it with you:

From March 2016 issue of Midwest Book Review…

MBR Bookwatch: March 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575

Dunford’s Bookshelf

Carrying the Black Bag
Thom Hutton, M.D.
Texas Tech University Press
PO Box 41037, Lubbock, TX 79409-1037
9780896729544, $27.95, HC, 240pp,

Synopsis: During his thirty-plus years of practicing in West Texas and Minnesota, physician and neurologist Tom Hutton discovered that a doctor’s best teachers are often his patients. From these (extra)ordinary individuals, he gained a whole-hearted respect for the resourcefulness, courage, and resilience of the human spirit. Part memoir and part homage to those patients who faced major illness with grace, grit, and dignity, “Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales” invites readers to experience what it is like to be a doctor’s hands, eyes, and heart. Imagine the joy of witnessing a critically ill five-year-old who, against all odds, claws her way back from a coma and near certain death. Meet a lonely Texas widower with Parkinson’s disease who hosts elaborate pinochle parties for a pack of imaginary canines. Step into the surgical booties of the author when he attempts to deliver his own child amid heart-stopping obstetrical complications. Through real-life patient narratives, Dr. Hutton shines light on ordinary people facing extraordinary challenges. Moreover, this captivating tale captures the drama of medicine, including its mystery, pathos, heroism, sacrifice, and humor. For more than just those working in the healthcare profession, “Carrying the Black Bag” also shares a behind-the-curtain peek at the rapidly changing American health care system.

Critique: Impressive, exceptional, absorbing, informative, thoughtful, and entertaining, “Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales” is a compelling and rewarding read from beginning to end. “Carrying the Black Bag” is very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections, as well as to the attention of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the ‘real world’ experiences of a dedicated physician.

Michael Dunford

Seeing Double

Several weeks ago one of our mama cow gave birth to a set of twins. I performed the classic double-take, thinking I must be seeing double. The two newborn calves were distinct from one another with a bull calf having a white face and otherwise light brown color and the other being a gray heifer.

Somewhere I’d read beef cattle reject one twin more often than do milk cows because beef cows produce less milk than do milk cows. In any event, rejection was the case with us. It didn’t take long to determine mama paid little attention to her bull calf and was downright mean to him when he tried to suckle.

On viewing this, I immediately took off to the feed store to purchase colostrom and a large bag of powered cow’s milk. The next challenge was to separate the bull calf from his mother in order to feed him. While the cow in question was not a good mother, she still had protective instincts for her bull calf as well as for her heifer calf. She tried to run me down several times when I approached, brandishing a bottle of milk. Having twice before during an earlier calving having been run down and rolled by this unpleasant mama, I was surely on my guard.

The frequency of twinning in beef cattle is about half a percent, that is one in every 200 births. We have never before encountered this on our ranch. The twin calves are usually smaller than single births and have a higher rate of birthing complications. Just imagine eight legs and two heads trying to exist the uterus. This gives rise to all sorts of possible complications and explains the increased rate of dystocias.

While unfamiliar with twins, Trudy and I have previously had to bottle feed several other calves. This proves time consuming (feeding twice a day) but gratifying. It is fun to see the bottle calf emerge running from the herd in the direction of a bottle toting person.

Follow on articles will touch on the naming of the calf and the phenomenon of freemartinism that frequently occurs with one bull calf and one heifer calf. More to come.