Office Upstairs

A Doctor's Journey

Charles H. Banov M.D.

"Office Upstairs" The Book

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Sample Chapter

Chapter 2: Medical School and Beyond

At last I was a medical student, on my way to becoming a real doctor. I was back in my hometown, living in my childhood home and the world was about to open up for me. Id been waiting for this all my life.

During our first orientation session, I met a student who would become one of my best medical school friends. Julian Atkinson was from the upper part of the state and a graduate of The Citadel Military College, but he was quite the opposite of the square-shouldered, self-confident, rigid, military schooltype so many of us imagine. He was a country boy, a hunting-and-fishing Baptist (without the Bible quoting) who had probably never been farther than twelve miles from home. He was a wonderful member of our four-man anatomy team, and he was the only person in the class more nervous than I, or more compulsive, although he would never admit it.

As medical students, Julian and I shared a special part-time job. On Saturday mornings, we were paid ten dollars to drive more than five hours to Columbia, the state capital, in the Medical College truck and bring back the cadavers of unclaimed bodies from the state mental hospital. In those days, there was no interstate highway, and we had to pick up some ice to keep the cadavers cool. Ill always remember the look on the faces of the ice workers when we drove our truck in, opened the box and said, "Please give us a load of ice before we go fishing."

During one Saturday morning cadaver run, we stopped in the town of Holly Hill so Julian could visit the restroom and buy a pack of cigarettes. As I waited in the truck, I heard a tap on the door. It was a hitchhiker we had passed about a mile back. He asked if he could have a ride to Charleston. I explained that we were medical students taking some cadavers to the school, so there was really no place for him to sit. The hitchhiker said that was fine with him; he himself was a pre-med student. He would be happy to ride in the back.

The young man climbed in the back of the truck. When Julian returned I either forgot to tell him that we had a hitchhiker or, more likely, couldnt resist the opportunity of giving my friend the fright of his life. Wed gone a few miles down the highway when Julian opened his pack of cigarettes. Our passenger, who could see us in the front seat through a glass window, decided hed like a smoke too. He tapped on the window, and Julian swallowed his cigarette. To this day, I believe I saw cigarette smoke coming out his nostrils.

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© 2007 Charles Banov M.D. , All Rights Reserved