She would keep track of the patients and work them in for examinations. If they needed any medicine, Doc would write out what medicine they were to have along with the directions for taking it and give this to Olivia. If the patient or any family member could read, she would type out a label, stick it on the box or bottle, and collect for the medicine and office call. She was performing these duties one Sunday afternoon when the following event occurred.
The train had just stopped, which meant that more patients were arriving. Two or three had come in when a large clamor arose in the colored waiting room. Olivia stepped into the room to be confronted with an unusual sight. A large black woman was leading an entourage of litter bearers who were carrying an even larger black man on a homemade stretcher. With a voice that could be heard in the next county, the woman was shouting, “Let us in, let us in. My man is bad off. We’s done brung him a long way to see ‘de Jesus Doctor. Oh, please, kin we see ‘de Jesus Doctor?”
By this time Doc had come out of one of the examining rooms to see what the commotion was. When the woman saw him, she clasped her hands to her breast and began to wail, “Oh, Doctor, Doctor, please hep my man! We knows dat if anybody kin hep ‘im, you kin. Kin you hep ‘im, Doctor, kin you hep ‘im?”
Doc walked over to the man who had been deposited in the middle of the waiting room floor. He walked around him looking at him from all angles before he said gruffly, “Well, I don’t know. He looks to be pretty far gone. But take him in there and put him on the table and I’ll see what I can do.”
Doc examined him and prescribed some medicine. As he handed the slip to Olivia, he said to the woman, “You give him this medicine, and if he’s still alive in two weeks, bring him back.” She left clutching the bottle of medicine, leading her small caravan toward the railroad to flag the next train back home.
Olivia was again helping out two weeks later when the man returned. He walked in with his wife who was full of loud praises for ‘”de Jesus Doctor.” When Doc saw them, his greeting was, “Well, I see you didn’t die.”
“Oh, no sir, no sir,” replied his wife. “Jes” look how much better he is. I tol’ ‘im I knew’d you’d cure ‘im if he jes’ do what you say. But, Doctor, it ain’t been easy. He didn’t wanna drink all dat water, but I made ‘im. I made ‘im drink every drap of it.”
The statement about the water puzzled Doc. He picked up the nearly empty bottle of medicine the woman had brought back and read the label. He turned toward Olivia and gave her a look over the top of his glasses that made her blood run cold, for in that instant she realized what she had done.
The directions should have read, “Take two teaspoons three times a day in a glass of water.” However, on the day the man was carried in, Doc had seen several women with vaginal infections whose directions for their douche solutions read, “two teaspoons three times a day in a gallon of water.” Olivia had mistakenly used those directions and had the unfortunate man drinking a gallon of water at one sitting three times a day.
Doc sat for minute or two and then said to the man, “You’re not well yet, but you’re going to be. I’m glad to see that you can follow directions and do what I want you to do. I’m going to give you some more medicine, and because you’re doing so well, I’m going to cut back on the water.”
The man almost fell on his knees in gratitude. “Thank you, Doctor, thank you! I sho ‘preciates it. I done had ’bout all the water I wants for a while.”
After they left, Olivia said that Doc took her into the medicine room and gave her a chewing out she never forgot. She also admitted that she deserved every word of it. And that was one mistake she never made again.
(For more by Luke Boyd’s “Coon Dogs and Outhouses V1” go to www.totalrecallpress.com or www.amazon.com.)