Last weekend Lions Clubs from Edgewood, Sandia Mountain Lions, Albuquerque and Santa Fe came to the Mountain Valley Church and set up a Health Fair and Arts and Crafts show. Frank Lasky and I had our standard competition, his green chili stew against my red chili posole. We contended for top seller, and again we tied. Every bit was eaten. The crowds were good, smiles all around.

But, a few, and I will not name names, did not wish to gird up their loins and go into the Health Fair which was giving free exams of all kinds. Lions are strongly associated with diabetes as well as issues for the blind, so you could get your blood tapped and read, blood pressure measured, and eye exams. The works were free. Soooooo why did some stay away? Well, I will give you for instance: There is something called, “White Coat Syndrome.” Yes indeedy, when they put a painless blood pressure cuff on your arm, your pressure goes up and up and you could float a hot air balloon on the pressure. If they took your pressure at home, it would be normal, but when you are surrounded by these medical personnel, you get spooky and you blow it… up.

I recall being 12 and having my mother take me to our doctor for a simple shot for tetanus. I bolted out the door and ran three blocks to my grandmother’s house. Oh, my mother caught me and whacked me all the back three blocks back. You see all my family was in the profession, nurses or doctors, and so my white coat syndrome lasted only one day. I got the shot. Oh, tetanus, is still 100% fatal if you get lockjaw. Anyone around horses knows that.

If you have trouble going to a medical facility, think back, way back. The first recognized doctor was Imhotep, 2,600 years ago, to Pharaoh. The Father of Medicine was Hippocrates around 460-370 BC. His rule was “First do no harm!” Well, that is the subject of another column.

The Knights Templar protected pilgrims before the first Crusades and opened a hospital in Jerusalem called St. Mary Latin. From there we jump to religious orders in both convents and monasteries, receiving people who were ill or injured. To this day, nurses in England are called “Sister.” Not all took the veil but they wore caps to indicate their order.

The next jump should be the Civil War. Both doctors and nurses were handicapped by not knowing germs cause disease. The cleaner you were the more lives to be saved. A Confederate nurse, Captain Sally Tompkins, had the lowest death rate; out of 1,600 only 73 died because they were so clean. Out of a staff of six, four women were black slaves who worked to make a difference. Ether was first used in operations in 1843. Before that they held you down to cut off a leg or arm.

At this time Clara Barton helped set up the Red Cross and she fixed a way of identifying those killed or missing in action. While she was skilled at setting up medical facilities, her role to the MIA and DOA is most notable. The Civil War was a time when volunteers, who were called “Camp Followers,” nursed the troops. It made being a nurse less than desirable. Victorians thought if you went to a hospital, you would automatically die. They sent flowers there to be used on your grave. Mothers were the ones who healed and took care of those around them (unless they were proclaimed to be witches). Nursing was not proclaimed to be a profession until the 1900s.

I grew up among nurses and doctors. I am not afraid of them, however, when I got bitten by a bat this summer, I stood in Presbyterian’s emergency room for 8 hours and then finally got my rabies shots, which did NOT hurt, I was looking hard at the door. My brother Arch, is still hitting me with holy water just in case the shots did not work, and I might turn? Roaring Mouse, not afraid, not afraid. Out.