Country Doctor's Casebook: Tales from the North Woods
In the years after the Second World War, a young doctor took up his post in one of the most remote regions of northern Minnesota. His term of service turned into a lifetime of caring for the people who made this isolated and often lonely place their home. The story of this remarkable adventure in frontline medicine forms the heart of this wonderful book.
For almost four decades, Roger MacDonald was the country doctor who tended to those in need in an area larger than the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined. Because he was the only doctor for miles, MacDonald traveled to the small towns and remote fishing villages, the logging camps and Indian reservation, the one-room schools and the remote backwoods cabins to practice his craft. In the course of his work, he encountered a remarkable group of tough, independent, and idiosyncratic individuals—all of whom relied on him for medical help. In turn, they taught MacDonald the importance of patience, human strength, wisdom, humor, and simple grace.
MacDonald came to know the people he cared for in extraordinarily intimate ways. Treating more than just the body, MacDonald became a confidant, advisor, caretaker, and friend as he plied the back roads of the north woods.
As a storyteller, MacDonald shows us the beauty of this remote region and the charm of those who make their lives there. With respect, affection, and humility, MacDonald relates his experiences with those who placed their well-being in his hands. The result is a warm and warm-hearted tale of the life of a north country doctor.
“This pioneer physician’s account of medicine, life, and death in the north of northern Minnesota is suffused by humanitarian warmth and humor. We all are there: Native Americans and immigrants, our lives beset by accidents and illness, and above all the love and dedication making us who we are, helped by our own Galen. A great read.” — Robert Treuer, author of The Tree Farm: Replanting a Life
“A delight—wonderfully written with a wry sense of humor. These stories ring true: compassionate, gentle, loving portraits of people for whom Dr. MacDonald cared deeply.” — David Hilfiker, M.D., author of Healing the Wounds: A Physician Looks at His Work
“Beautiful, humorous, and lucidly written, this is a heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking treasure of American rural medical history.” — Pierre Delattre, author of Woman on the Cross, Episodes, and Tales of a Dalai Lama
"Roger MacDonald has had the wisdom to realize that his own work as a rural doctor constitutes not just history, but important history, and, even more significantly, interesting history. To our good fortune he is an unusually articulate narrator and sensitive observer. His stories are not just interesting to read, but moving, sometimes hilarious." -- Roger Welsch, correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning and author of Love, Sex and Tractors
Roger A. MacDonald, M.D., was a rural physician from 1948 to 1980, when he became associate director of the Rural Physician Associate Program at the University of Minnesota Medical School. Now retired, he divides his time between Grand Marais, Minnesota, and La Verne, California.