Friday, December 14, 2012

Dr. Tramontana, Our Family Doctor...

Many, many, many years ago, before I was even born, my family had a doctor who took care of all of us. Dr. Joseph Tramontana was a general practioner. Back in the day, they didn’t have many specialists like they do today. So he was a jack of all trades in the medical field. My mother loved this doctor. He was tall, distinguished, handsome, and always wore a dark suit. Best of all, Dr. Tramontana made house calls. We never had to leave the house with a fever, the doctor came to us. Whenever my mother called for one of us he would come over between or after office hours. She would let him in, he would take off his overcoat and lay it over the kitchen chair and then come over to the couch with his little black bag. My brother and I always stayed on the couch when we were sick. We would watch television all day and we only had one (yes one) television back then and it was in the living room.

Dr. Tramontana went through his usual routine, checking our eyes, ears, feeling the glands in the neck and then placing that big stick on our tongues saying, “Say Ahhhh.” Then he took out the stethoscope and listened to our chests and backs as we took deep breaths. And finally, the dreaded moment came when he would reach into his black bag for the syringe, needle and the little bottle of antibiotic. My mother would come prepared with the alcohol and cotton ball to cleanse the area on our little butt cheek…then BAM, the needle was plunged in, a few tears, and the medicine was on its merry way to kill off the infection. Then he would write a prescription for any medication needed, which my mother could start giving us the next day. 

Now, my mother told me that Dr. Tramontana delivered me and my brother. She went to him for prenatal care. And, he was the doctor who recommended that I get my tonsils out at four years old, before starting school…and while they were at it, they should remove the adenoids too. I never did find out what the hell adenoids are or what they do, but I guess not that much because I never missed them. My mother did whatever the good doctor said and arrangements were made (that story is in another blog).

I remember one time when my brother had pneumonia. He was young, maybe four years old. The doctor had examined him on the couch and told my mother he had pneumonia. Just hearing the word terrified me. I really worried my brother could die. I couldn’t stay with him either because I had to go to school. The doctor came to see him ever day until he was starting to feel better. I never told anyone how worried I was about his being so sick or how relieved I was when he got better. It was a big scare for me.

Of course, that is all a nice little story except that’s not the end of it. Dr. Tramontana was my doctor from birth, but when I reached my teenage years I became very, very modest about my body, like many teenage girls. I had been properly raised and all the virtuous values were instilled in me. Basically, what I am saying is, that I did NOT appreciate being examined by our good doctor. So when my mother took me to his office one day and he had to do an exam, I literally freaked out. I was angry and felt very violated and even called the doctor “a pig.” My mother was humiliated and insisted I apologize, but I refused. You can imagine how embarrassed my mother was, but the doctor told her it was alright. I guess he understood where I was coming from. If I recall correctly, we went back to his office for a follow up visit and, at that time, I apologized for my bad behavior. I’m not sure I meant it or just did it to shut my mother up. But, it was never mentioned again. Oh well, at least my daughters have never done that to me.

Looking back, Dr. Tramontana was a very nice and kind man. He was a good doctor, dedicated to his patients. I do regret my outburst, and I hope my apology was sincere. It was very much unlike me to do such a thing, so I know my feelings about it were very strong. I wish there were more doctors like Dr. Tramontana today, ones that make house calls and call to check to see how you are doing…and care. Once on a while we get lucky and find such a doctor, but he/she won’t make house calls.

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