News from the Tennessee Valley Columnists
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2005
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TOM WRIGHT

Getting older means new doctors

Dr. Jim Hunter's been our physician for at least 20 years. After each checkup I tell Jim that I'm going to stay with him as a patient because he's the greatest.

That's because he never finds anything much wrong. He chuckles and says to call him if I need to. I do sometimes.

We've never talked about retirement but I think Regina and I might be looking for a new doctor one of these years. That's because a lot of people our ages are retiring.

But Jim, like me, says he plans to stay around for awhile.

People don't like to break in a new doctor after a bunch of years so it's bad news when one retires.

More than 400 patients and friends showed up in February to wish Dr. George Hansberry well after he turned over his 40-year practice to Dr. Jeff Johnson.

George wouldn't quit until he found the right successor.

People get as anxious when their dentist retires. Many of us had rather break in a medical doctor than see a new dentist.

It's probably psychological and has to do with long needles and the sound of drills boring into teeth.

Our dentist retired last month but saved his patients the anxiety. He didn't tell anybody.

While we were on vacation, I managed to crack and chip the crowns on my two front teeth.

I called Dr. David White.

"I'll see you as soon as I get back next week," I said.

He hesitated, then said, "Tom, that might be a problem. I retired."

Doctors get as attached to their patients as patients do to doctors.

So, why did David surprise us?

I suspect he couldn't stand 1,000 goodbyes.

David recruited a bright, young dentist from the dental school at The University of Alabama at Birmingham into his practice several years ago, knowing that this time would come.

So, the next week I was back in the same office, seeing some of the same people and having Dr. Forrest Bryant say, "Now this may hurt just a bit."

It didn't and I now have my new front teeth.

So, thanks David for all those years, and for leaving us with Forrest.

Tom Wright Tom Wright
DAILY Executive Editor

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