Eugene A. Stead Jr. A life of chasing what I did not understand
My Story
The End of a Chapter
Postscripts from Stead's World
My Photos
Mostly My Thoughts
Thoughts from housestaff and friends
Thoughts from Others
For the Curious

From the housestaff - one side of the story ...

Title: Dr. Stead's Intern

Contributor: Putt Pryor

Our intern group was not a very happy one. If my memory is correct there were only 13 of us. We were expected to work six days a week, be on call in the hospital five nights and then attend "Sunday School" each Sunday morning. To provide enough places for us to stay at the hospital, bunk beds were put in most sleeping areas. This included rooms created by closing a hallway and walling off part of the student house staff lab.

I brushed my teeth in the same sink I'd poured down all kinds of specimens. We had to fill out all requests for lab and x-ray studies and do blood counts, urinalyses and EKG's at night. It was a real grind when you were on a ward service. I was the only intern to stay on as a junior resident.

An example of how strictly the rules were enforced is what happened when a newly wedded intern left the hospital late one night after all his duties were finished. He had arranged for coverage while going home to be with his new wife for a few hours. Unfortunately, one of his patients died while he was gone and he was not there for the autopsy. Dr. Stead called him in for a "walk in the garden" conference. He told us later that Dr. Stead had told him that if he left the hospital again without permission, he would be dismissed without credit for the year. Rumor had it that the chief resident would make bed checks after that event.

Title: High Arches

We were making rounds on the porch of Long Ward. I presented the history and clinical findings on a patient very carefully. I could not figure out what Dr. Stead was interested in until he asked me what I thought about the patient's high arches. Luckily I knew the patient was a painter, so I responded that I thought that they were the result of standing on a ladder all day.

Dr. Stead looked at me, stroked his chin and said, "I never thought of that!" I am sure Dr. Stead knew that I had not observed the high arches. He pointed them out to me and chose to overlook my failing.

I felt that I had won a victory when I was just trying to stay out of trouble for missing a possible important physical finding. After that I looked at arches.

Title: I'll Eat My Hat

While an intern on the private service, a gentleman was admitted complaining of difficulty chewing and swallowing because of tightness in his jaws and increasing generalized muscle stiffness.

He had a history of sticking his finger with a sandspur about a week before the symptoms started. When told about the patient, Dr. Stead suggested that Sam Martin should be asked to evaluate him for possible tetanus. Sam had been in the South Pacific and seen many cases.

Dr. Martin made a diagnosis of tetanus, but the Chief of Neurology, Dr. Graves, I think it was, disagreed and proclaimed he would eat his hat on the front steps of the hospital if this patient had tetanus.

Within 12 hours the patient was having periodic spasms and trismus. Dr. Martin was correct. Although everyone involved in the case watched expectantly, the neurologist never ate his hat.

Title: My Mother Taught Me To Be Neat

In those days everyone smoked except Dr. Stead and a few house staff, including me. One day during rounds one of the interns took a cigarette out of his mouth and ground out the burning butt on the floor of the doctor's office on Nott Ward.

As the intern started to present his findings, Dr. Stead calmly bent down and picked up the cigarette butt and put it in the trash. He then looked at the intern and said, "My mother taught me to be neat, did yours?"

The house officer blushed but held his comment until Dr. Stead left, when he loudly proclaimed, "He can say anything he wants about me, but not about my mother!"

Title: Nickel Bet

I was paired as an intern with Paul Filmore. He was 6' plus to my 5'4. Paul would wrap his legs with ace bandages before we started the never-ending afternoon rounds with Dr. Stead. Leaning against the wall, a chair or bed was never considered an option.

We were making rounds on Nott Ward and the traditional nickel bet about the diagnosis was invoked. I'd never known Dr. stead to lose, but Peritz Scheinberg came up with the right answer to win the bet on that patient. I expect Peritz remembers the details.

Title: A Great Experience

Dr. Stead told us early on in the year that he felt that the internship was the best opportunity one would have to learn about medical problems, therefore we should be willing to devote whatever time that was required to get the experience during this time in training.

Looking back, I agree, even though at the time it was hard to accept. The change in my attitude and the pleasure of working with an enthusiastic group during my years as Junior and Senior Assistant Resident with Dr. Stead was a great experience.

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