University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – More Letters Home From Medical School Pt. 4

On Reading

August 26, 1947

Dear Dad:

I let your birthday slip up on me this year. Sorry. At least I remembered “the big one” last year [his 50th].

Never before have I enjoyed a bit of leisure more than recently during senior year medicine. I have taken the time to read most of the books that I ever wanted to read and hope to keep up this non-medical reading habit in the tough years ahead. Somehow, I seem to think most clearly when my mind is in a book. In fact, it’s hard for me to think constructively without some goad; otherwise, I usually day-dream and reason speciously about trivial issues of the moment.

Anyway, I wish you a very happy and quiet, maybe even a reading birthday. Love, Henry, Jr.

Still today I find myself most alive intellectually when actually reading. I notice an elevated feeling particularly when reading the “Sunday New York Times Book Review.”I doubt this sentiment is unique.

First Surgery

October 14

I am in clinics at Charity or at Hutchinson Memorial every morning and two afternoons a week. At Tulane, my office number is 801, with my own nameplate and a private waiting room. There I see several patients each morning. In Charity, I see dozens, and for the first time I am actually doing something for sick people: lancing, debriding, suturing, bandaging. Friday, I scrubbed for my first operation, cap, gown, gloves, and mask, to assist in a vein ligation for severe varicosities of the leg.

I drive hard, with little time to sack off during the day. The hard wood examination table in my office occasionally serves for a short snooze at noon.

Sorry to hear about Aunt Waddie’s suffering. Large bowel cancer often isn’t manifest until it obstructs, when it may be too late. I’ve indicated in the drawing enclosed the more common sites for it. Right-sided bowel cancer rarely obstructs at all and thus is rarely recognized early enough for “cure.”

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