The first trip to a doctor’s office that I can remember with real clarity took place on my first day of first grade. At recess, I’d decided to try out a fascinating new playground torture device: the seesaw. New to me, at least; up to that point, I’d never ridden one. I hopped on one end and another kid hopped on the other and we began defying gravity. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Uh-oh. Later I would discover the structural flaw that sent me screaming to the nurse’s office, blood cascading from the back of my head: The seat I was sitting on inexplicably rotated to an upside-down position at the very height of my ride. This being my first time on the damn thing, I stayed in place, clinging like a barnacle to the handle and maintaining my upright (er, downright), seated position. I also remember thinking, as I plunged headfirst to the asphalt, the ball-peen to the seesaw’s hammer handle: “Wow. This seems a little unorthodox, but in for a dime…” Of course, when that thought crossed my lips, it came out more like: “WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”
Mom was called, I was picked up in the old Ford station wagon, and soon I was staring for what seemed like eons at the faux wood paneling on the exam room walls as the doctor carefully stitched up my scalp. Later still, after the pain wore off and I got used to feeling like Frankenstein, I remember the strange pride I took in showing off my stitches to friends on the street.
Everyone has a story like that, it’s just that some are more harrowing than others. This month, in addition to our list of 388 superlative local physicians who have been recommended by their peers, we have included profiles of seven doctors operating on the cutting edge of the medical frontier. Whether designing a new type of “smart catheter” to measure the vital signs of a traumatized brain or devising new molecular smart bombs to destroy cancer cells, the lengths and depths to which these doctors are going to make us all feel better will make your head spin. And then Dennis O’Connor’s wry and unvarnished account of his battle with stage III colon cancer (“Another Day in Cancerland,” page 78) will make it spin some more.
Once your head has stopped spinning, be sure to make time for some of the other good stuff we’ve got in this issue: Alyssa Brandt’s tour through the elegant digs where Anne Wainscott is still making beautiful art at 93. Jack Heffron’s visit to the hookah bar putting the “new” in Delhi. Jason Cohen’s profile of The Greenhornes, the band that crawled out of the garage after a five-year hiatus with a stellar (literally) new album. Donna Covrett’s ode to the wonders of Crock-Pot cooking. Then make a little time for yourself. Happy New Year.