Contributor: Barry Tharp
Another story concerned one of those all-nighters on Osler. We had six or seven admissions and were scrambling to get everybody worked up before Dr. Stead came on rounds in the morning.
One of my patients was very sick with pneumonia, cirrhosis and pancreatitis. He was dehydrated and diabetic as well. I devoted most of my time that night to him. I filled up the black board in the resident office with flow charts of my progress getting his sugar down and electrolytes balanced. I was barely able to spend time with my other admissions. I remember even grabbing a few minutes in the wee hours of the morning to read a little on pancreatitis, my first case as an intern.
When Dr. Stead arrived in the office the next morning, he looked up at the blackboard crowded with data and I prepared myself to respond to all his questions concerning pancreatitis and diabetes. He said "Well, it looks like you have this case well in hand, let's go on to your next patient."
Title: Elderly Gentleman with End-stage Lung Disease
I was an intern in 1962. I left for the Army in Sept of 1963 and returned two years later to do a neurology residency from 1965-67. I have many stories about Dr. Stead to pass on.. I wonder how much they've grown in size over the years!
I live in a small university town in California, Davis, and occasionally get together with my old friend, Andy Gabor, who was a Neurology house officer with me from 1965-67. Though Andy was in a surgery residency before switching to Neurology and therefore never worked under Stead, he seems to have picked up many Steadisms. We had dinner together a few nights ago and I told him my story about an elderly gentleman admitted to Osler with end-stage pulmonary disease.
Dr. Stead saw him on rounds and left a brief note in the chart: "Elderly gentleman with end-stage lung disease ..." and moved on to the next patient. That night the patient deteriorated and was really close to dying. My resident (Earl Metz or Bruni Herrero) and I decided that the only thing we could do to save his life was perform a tracheotomy, which we did.
By the next morning the patient was doing much better (albeit temporarily). Dr. Stead saw him on rounds, examined him briefly and said he wanted to leave another note. I was really feeling proud of our accomplishment. His note read, "Elderly gentleman with end-stage lung disease, now with hole in throat." ... and went to the next patient.
I got the point!
Another story I still remember vividly was between Dr. Stead and me in the men's room near his office. I was stopping in for a quick pee when in walked Dr. Stead. You may remember in those days that most of the rooms in the old hospital were not air-conditioned, including the rest rooms. To keep down odors, large blocks of ice were put in the urinals.
Dr. Stead took the urinal next to me, greeted me and then said, "Don't you have fun trying to cut these in half?"
A resident colleague of mine in Neurology (who will go unnamed) was an independent sort and often got into clashes with the attendings. I don't recall the exact event which prompted his being called into Dr. Stead's office, but he told me the details later.
Dr. Stead told him to sit down and after a brief recital of his transgressions pushed an envelope across the desk to him. He told my colleague to either shape up or take the envelope. When my colleague opened the envelope it was a one-way train ticket from Durham to Pittsburgh, his hometown. He chose to shape up!