Category Archives: Inspiring Patient Stories

Appearance on Alternative Talk Radio

What fun I had as a guest on KKNW 1150 AM, alternative talk radio for the hour long program “Sunny In Seattle“. Sunny Joy McMillan hosts this wonderful program and asked insightful and probing questions about my book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales.  We also had well-informed callers who  provided thoughtful observations and questions.

Any opportunity to discuss my book and writing method is always welcome, but particularly when it is carried out with the joy and intelligence shown by Sunny. Below is a MP3 link to the interview on “Sunny in Seattle” should you wish to listen to the full program

I wish everyone a marvelous Thanksgiving. It is good to stop and ponder that which we are grateful among which I am grateful for you, the readers of my blog.

TV/Film Rights to Carrying The Black Bag

15998415Felt emotionally uplifted when I recently received an inquiry from L.A. area for the TV/Film rights for my  book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. The inquiry asked who to contact and I responded with the contact information for my agent, Don Fehr, at Trident Media in New York City.

Suspect many inquiries are made and few books are acquired. Nevertheless, it’s wonderful to be sounded out. This would give a boost to the book and extend the stories into a new medium. Here’s hoping!

Continue to give talks on my book and have several scheduled over the next month. Have particularly enjoyed the interaction with various book clubs, but also the various women’s clubs and service clubs have been great fun. These are enjoyable experiences, as I always enjoy telling the stories within the book. Trudy has been a great help in this regard.

Remain open to additional invitations to speak. Am willing to travel. Trudy keeps the calendar of events and can be contacted at trudy_hutton@yahoo.com.

Lubbock Book Tour This Week-Carrying The Black Bag

21122377Looking forward to several book related events this week in Lubbock. Thursday morning I’ll tape a thirty minute program for Dr. Tom McGovern”s radio program that will play on the Texas Tech University NPR station. Dr. McGovern is a fine Ethicist and a wonderful human being whom I always enjoy being around and learn from.

Then on Thursday evening at 7 pm I will be presenting at the Texas Tech University Library on my book, Carrying The Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. The event is open to the public.

Friday evening my good friends Judy Wilkins and La Nelle Etheridge are having a “Celebration and Conversation” event where I will speak about my book to their invited guests. This is such a generous invitation and one I’m greatly looking forward to.

Then on Saturday morning I will again share stories from my book at the Lubbock Roundtable at 11:00 at the Hillcrest Country Club.

I feel fortunate to have been asked to give numerous book talks since Carrying The Black Bag came out three months ago. These are all fun events. I particularly enjoy gaining feedback from folks whose lives have been impacted meaningfully by my book and from learning their stories. Let me know if you would wish to schedule me for a book talk and Trudy and I will try to make it happen.

If you are in Lubbock this week, hope to see you at the TTU Library Thursday night or as Charles Osgood says, “I’ll see you on the radio.”

Midwest Book Review of Carrying The Black Bag

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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…www.midwestbookreview.com

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
http://www.ttupress.org
9780896729544, $27.95, HC, 240pp, http://www.amazon.com

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
Reviewer

West Texas Book Tour

Trudy and i at book signing following the Lubbock Women's Club presentation

Trudy and i at book signing following the Lubbock Women’s Club presentation

Pleased to say I had three book presentations last week- two in Lubbock (Lubbock Women’s Club and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Texas Tech University) and one in Big Spring (Greater Big Spring Rotary Club). Enjoyed seeing the historic Settles Hotel that has been recently refurbished and was at 15 stories for a time the tallest building between Fort Worth and El Paso. Had a great time meeting some wonderful folks and presenting on Carrying The Black Bag.

Special thanks to Judy and Paul Rostad for arranging the Lubbock events and Emily McCann for setting up the Big Spring event. I continue to be gratified by the impact the book has on people, many of whom have a family member with a chronic illness or else care for someone with one.

Paul Rostad who organized my OLLI presentation and an attendee

Paul Rostad who organized my OLLI presentation and an attendee

Blog Tour and Recent Presentations

My wonderful publicist, Maryglenn McCombs, recently arranged a 10-Texas Blog Tour. This has brought about increased information and excitement for my book, Carrying The Black Bag. One blog asked me to answer a series of questions. Since I have found these to be frequently asked questions, I wanted to share this now with my blog readers (see below).

Also have enjoyed recently speaking at the Hondo Rotary Club and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the Texas Hill Country. These were a lot of fun and met many nice folks. i continue to be extremely gratified by the overwhelmingly positive response to my book including reviews by the Manhatten Book Review, The Chicago Sun Times, and the Austin American Statesman among others. I welcome opportunities to share these stories with other organizations. Just let Trudy or me know if you would like for me to speak to your groups and we will see if we can schedule an event.

 

Blog Tour Questions

  1. What made you want to share your story and write this book?

One reviewer described Carrying The Black Bag as part memoir and part love story between a doctor and his patients. While unusual, this statement is largely true. The wonderful patients described in my book have by now passed on, making me the last person standing who can share their poignant, humorous, and courageous stories.

The sobering impact of life altering illnesses crystalizes what is most important in our lives, deepens commitment to spouses and families, increases reflection on spiritual lives, or even, in rare instances, as described in the book, leads to revealing hallucinations due to loneliness and illness.

Family caregivers are usually irrevocably changed by intense caregiving and might just discover unknown depths of resolve and determination.

Such insights allow intriguing insights into the human condition.

 

  1. What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

First, I want them to experience a good read. Without reading enjoyment few would continue turning the pages. Secondly, I hope these stories will help others deal with current or future medical problems with greater insight and confidence and be inspired by the patients described.

I also hope readers will develop greater understanding of the importance of good doctor-patient-family communication and how this benefits patient care. The reader should as well enjoy and experience “a behind the curtain peek” at the medical profession.

 

  1. What is the most important thing you have to do as an author of nonfiction vs. fiction?

Nonfiction must have authenticity as well as be engaging. Whereas fiction can be spun from whole cloth, nonfiction must strive for accuracy, develop context within our life experience, and inform to a much greater extent.

 

  1. Did you find writing about your life as a physician a difficult or therapeutic process?

Reliving the excitement of a fulfilling medical career was a wonderful experience. Admittedly dredging up the intense challenges, the anxieties of a newly minted physician, and recalling the overwhelming fatigue proved emotionally difficult but overall proved therapeutic and satisfying.

 

  1. Now that you are retired, what do you say was the most challenging part of your profession?

Doctors along with their families must sacrifice in order for the doctor to be available for patient needs. Illnesses and injuries ignore social calendars. For example, my formally dressed wife on several occasions spent her evenings sitting in a busy emergency room amid feverish people, inebriates, and the injured waiting for her sidetracked husband to finish up. Trudy fortunately was able to accept my demanding schedule. Many doctors were not so fortunate and suffered high divorce rates.

I don’t know if my children realized the effort required to be present for their events, to enjoy a regular family dinner, and make sure family vacations came about. On the other hand, I know I missed events important to them while attending my patients who had first claim on my time. This proved painful for me. Managing these medical versus personal challenges proved the most difficult part of my professional life.

 

  1. What do you say was the most rewarding part of your profession?

Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of my medical career was the unique relationship that develops between a doctor and patient. The doctor/patient relationship is like no other in that trust has to exist. Few other relationships involve this degree of intimacy and sharing of personal information. Open communication also becomes vital in order to provide the best of care. The trust and appreciation shown by my patients proved incredibly rewarding.

Practicing neurology also proved extremely satisfying. Neurological diagnosis requires careful history taking and examination. This teasing out of clues is paramount to making a correct diagnosis. In a way in this day of enhanced medical imaging and laboratory evaluations neurology is an anachronism. Due to the amount of medical instruments required for the examination, its practitioners may appear old fashioned as they still carry black medical bags.

 

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing medical care now and in the future?

The inherent conflict between the need to combat rapidly escalating medical costs and the ongoing desire of people for individualized medical care presents the greatest challenge to medicine today. Drastic limitations on time spent with each patient driven by third party reimbursements, increased record keeping requirements, and cookbook medicine detract from patient-specific needs.

I hope the art of medicine and careful communication between doctor and patient will not be compromised in a headlong pursuit of cost saving nor will the art of medicine give way entirely to technological advancements such as in imaging and laboratory evaluation.

The sharing of electronic medical records has potential for great benefit. A less attractive aspect is the growing diminished face-to-face communication among members of the medical team. Such institutions as the “midnight meal” for interns and residents may become a thing of the past. Nevertheless newer means of exchanging and gaining further information than from chart reviews and fostering collegiality will be needed.

 

  1. Any other projects planned for the writing world of Tom Hutton MD?

At least two projects interest me. First I would like to write a sequel to Carrying The Black Bag, perhaps titled Retiring The Black Bag. With the tremendous number of baby boomers retiring each year, a continuation interests me including my own personal challenge taking off the stethoscope and becoming, what my wife refers to as a real person. Further I wish to share the unusual/incredible role an amazing Border collie named Bandit had in effecting this challenging transition. Moreover the colorful people involved in this important phase in my life would provide interesting reading and relatable events. It might prove helpful to others anticipating and hopefully planning for their own retirements.

Secondly, I am interested in writing an expanded version of the account of Adolf Hitler and his medical problems. In addition to his neurological disorder, Hitler had serious heart disease and a litany of other medical complaints and disorders. The horrendous impact that der Führer had on the twentieth century continues to fascinate and too little attention has been paid to the impact his poor health had on his decision-making.

 

 

 

Cover Release

 

 

My book, Carrying the Black Bag: A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales, will be released mid-November by Texas Tech University Press. The cover design for the book is above. The design is simple and immediately conjures up a physician with his black medical bag and dangling stethoscope. I believe the cover describes what the book is about, a memoir detailing patient stories that tell of courage, pathos, and humor.

I welcome your thoughts on the book cover. My book is intended for a popular audience. It shares  stories of brave individuals living with and thriving despite their neurological illnesses. All of us at some time will likely face a chronic illness in ourselves or loved ones and this book will assist in preparing for this challenge. It also should benefit health care professionals and serve as a reminder of the wonderful opportunity we have to involve ourselves so intimately in the lives of those for whom we care.

The book is dedicated to those who trusted me enough to share their personal stories of courage, pathos, heroism, and inspiration.