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P&S Journal

P&S Journal: Spring 1996, Vol.16, No.2
Letters/E-mail

Dear Editor:

When I received the last P&S issue with the front page photo of the Bard Hall Players (obviously performing a scene from "Guys and Dolls") it brought back memories from years before when I was in the Bard Hall Players performing (among other things) that same musical. I immediately thought of Ed Leahey--a quite unforgettable personality involved in our theatrics when I was an impressionable medical student. It was quite gratifying to open to the article and see the tribute on page 27 to this man who, although not living a very long life, lived a full one and touched many of us.

Now 15 years since I have left P&S, I find that the most memorable people were those who taught me the "arts" of medicine and life. Ed was one of those, an example of somebody who showed that a good physician can (and should) have interests other than medicine, and that a diversity of experiences enriches rather than detracts from one's professional practice. Non-medical pursuits such as the Bard Hall Players provide a contrast and alternative to the "science" of medicine, and help alleviate some of the "tunnel vision" that is inevitable in medical school and beyond. I am only sorry that I cannot enjoy watching the productions (due to geographical limitations), but reminiscing is free.

Michael P. Shear'81
Tierra Verde, Fla.

Dear Editor:

I am sure that by now you will have received several millenia worth of letters contesting your description of the class of 1999 as "the last class of this century."

Just as the first century was not over until its 100th year was completed, so will the 20th not be over until midnight, December 31, 2000. Thus, the class of 2000 will be of (and the last of) this century.

Jack C. Childers Jr.'64
Baltimore, Md.

Dear Editor:

This letter is prompted by your most recent edition in which you describe the Apgar instruments. We first met in 1951 when I was a third-year medical student on the anesthesia rotation. On arrival in labor and delivery we were promptly taken to the Neurological Institute to see a patient who had suffered damage as a result of oxygen deprivation during anesthesia. Following a discussion of this anesthesia risk we repaired to labor and delivery when we sampled nitrous oxide, discussed other risks and benefits, and concluded with discussion of caudal anesthesia with the aid of direct palpation of her caudal canal. Having one's hand grabbed by Dr. Apgar and placed on her caudal canal has stayed in my memory.

On July 1, 1954, I began my five years as an OB/GYN resident, where we became fast friends. Working with her, Dr. Stanley James, and others has remained a major influence in my understanding of research and patient care. Most interesting was the effort spent in trying to elucidate the reasons for the low Apgar score and finally showing its close correlation with cord pH. I have always felt her finding of the low pH's was the first time a pH of less than normal was found in a human. Blood pH was not the routine at that time. Another memory occurred in either '57 or '58 when the AMA had its clinical meeting in New York City and Dr. Apgar arranged to transport stillborns to Madison Square Garden, where I and others taught the passing MD how to intubate the newborn infant so as to better assist in overcoming respiratory depression-a typical example of her interest in teaching and improving patient care.

What really prompted this letter was the article about her violins. I can clearly remember the day I was in the Harkness Pavilion elevator when she got on and showed me a piece of wood. Did I know where she had obtained it? No, was my answer. She then went on to explain that it came from the telephone book rack in the front hall of Harkness and would be very valuable in making a violin. She apparently had been watching it dry for a number of years and during a renovation she had grabbed it. Whether this piece is part of those now permanent at P&S may never be known, but I like to think that integral to the sound produced is the piece of wood she showed me in the elevator that came from the telephone book rack at Harkness Pavilion.

J. Courtland Robinson'53
Associate Professor, OB/GYN
Johns Hopkins

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Editor, P&S Journal
College of Physicians and Surgeons
630 W. 168th St.
New York, NY 10032

E-mail: edb3@columbia.edu


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