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Authors: MD Walt Larimore

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Bryson City Tales

BOOK: Bryson City Tales
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Praise for
Bryson City Tales

With homespun warmth, my friend Dr. Walt Larimore tells stories that integrate the science and art of medicine. Walt is a brilliant lifelong learner who is patient-centered.
Bryson City Tales
portrays medical practice as something deeply personal, relational, and spiritual.

Randy Alcorn, author of
Deadline and The Treasure Principle

What a delightful work!
Bryson City Tales
brims with the charm, color, and character of the North Carolina mountains and its unique folk. Dr. Larimore's gifted storytelling makes us wince, gasp, laugh, and cry with these charming people and their “fresh out of training” doctor. A television script writer could only hope to do as well as this over-the-shoulder peek at real-life medical drama in a small town.

Richard A. Swenson, M.D., physician, futurist, researcher, and best-selling author of

Walt Larimore has the gift. His fine book brings before the reader a vivid world inhabited by colorful people. We see the tragedy and triumph of their lives, and like a master, Doc Larimore employs the old show-business adage, “Make 'em laugh—make 'em cry!” If you are seeking a book that delights and informs, you need look no further than
Bryson City Tales.

Gilbert Morris, best-selling author of the House of Winslow series, the Appomattox series, and
The Edge of Honor

The title
Bryson City Tales
is a modest cover for a lot of personal true stories that illustrate some highly profound principles. How does a young doctor manage to integrate his background of high academic medical training and simple Christian faith into the hurly-burly of established human relationships in a mountain community? This sounds like heavy stuff, but it turns out to be light—almost hilarious—reading.

Paul Brand, M.D., coauthor of
Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
The Gift of Pain

I became an M.D. because doctors were my heroes growing up, and many of them still are—including Walt Larimore, M.D., the author of
Bryson City Tales
Bryson City Tales
shows the character, motives, surprises (awakenings), and disappointments of a first-year small-town family doctor. I loved it. I laughed. I cried. And, most important, my faith has been reinforced that there still are loving and caring docs out there.

Paul Meier, M.D., cofounder of the Meier New-Life Clinics and
author of fifty-two books

Books by Dr. Walt Larimore

10 Essentials of Highly Healthy People
Alternative Medicine
(coauthored with Dónal O'Mathúna)
Bryson City Tales
Bryson City Seasons
Going Public with Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence
at Work
(coauthored with William Carr Peel)
The Highly Healthy Child
Lintball Leo's Not-So-Stupid Questions About Your Body
Why A.D.H.D. Doesn't Mean Disaster
(coauthored with
  Dennis Swanberg and Diane Passno)


Copyright © 2002 by Walt Larimore

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of Zondervan.

ePub Edition June 2009 ISBN: 0-310-86124-1

Requests for information should be addressed to:

Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Larimore, Walter L.
Bryson City tales : stories of a doctor's first year of practice in the Smoky Mountains / Walt Larimore.
p. cm.
ISBN-13: 978-0-310-25670-0
1. Walter L. Larimore. 2. Physicians—North Carolina—Bryson City—Biography. 3. Medicine, Rural—North Carolina—Bryson City. I. Title.
R154. L267 A3


All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the
Holy Bible, New
International Version
. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other—except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.

Illustration by William Rozek

06 07 08 09 10 11 12 • 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5

To Barb,
the love of my life

and to Bryson City and her people. These selected
stories represent only asmall portion of all that could
be told. These people, our “southern highlanders,”
represent—at least once you come to know them—
awarm and gentle people. They slowly took me in.
They slowly welcomed me. They always taught me.
This volume is, in away, my thanks to them—
for who they are and for what they meant
to me and my family.


Some of the characters revealed herein are real—they still reside in Bryson City—and Barb and I have had the pleasure of visiting with many of them over the last year. The vast majority, but not all, are still friends and still friendly. Others have moved to other towns, to other places. Some keep in touch with me from time to time.

Other characters described in this tome are composites of real people and bear names that are purely fictional—primarily to protect the identities of those who formed the origin of the story itself. In many cases the name, gender, and age of patients have been changed to protect the confidentiality and privacy of my many patients who never planned or wanted to have their stories appear in the public square. Therefore, those readers who think they recognize a friend or acquaintance in these pages should consider it a most unlikely coincidence.

Many of the most influential characters mentioned in this book have passed on and will have no opportunity to tell their side of the same story. Some, I suspect, would be pleased with what has been recorded about their impact on my life. Others, I'm sure, would protest—perhaps vociferously.

Indeed, most (but not all) of the stories actually happened—although not all occurred exactly as they are written. Some
artistic license was employed in the timing of certain events.

Looking back over the decades at the events occurring at the dawn of my medical career, I suspect that similar accounts could have been recorded by countless other family physicians in rural America with, of course, some personal variations. This writing is intended to be more a record of this type of practice and the personal and professional growth it produces in almost any young physician than the full autobiography of a single one.


Cover Page

Title Page




1. The Murder

Part One

Rewind: First Stop in Bryson City

2. The Arrival

3. The Hemlock Inn

4. The Grand Tour

5. The Interview

Part Two

Fast-Forward: Awkward Beginnings in the Smokies

6. Settling In

7. First-Day Jitters

8. Emergency!

9. The Delivery

10. The “Expert”

11. The Trial

12. Shitake Sam

13. Wet behind the Ears

14. Lessons in Daily Practice

15. White Lies

16. The Epiphany

Part Three

Play: Making Bryson City Home

17. Becoming Part of the Team

18. Monuments

19. My First Home Victory

20. Fisher of Men

21. Fly-Fishing

22. Something Fishy

23. A Good Day at the Office

24. An Evening to Remember

25. Another New Doc Comes to Town

26. 'Twas the Night before Christmas

27. A Surprising Gift

28. The New Year

29. The Home Birth

30. The Showdown

31. The Initiation

32. Home at Last

About the Publisher

Share Your Thoughts


s I write these acknowledgments, the Swain County Maroon Devils have just won the 2001 North Carolina state football championship. I wish I had been there with them. I am so appreciative of the Swain County High School athletic department, coaches, and fans. Being allowed to serve as their team physician was one of the highest honors of my professional career. A special thank-you is due from me to Coach Boyce Dietz.

The idea for this book started with an informal lunch at Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Scott Bolinder, executive vice president and publisher; Lyn Cryderman, vice president and associate publisher; Cindy Hays Lambert, senior acquisitions editor; and several staff members were meeting with Barb and me to discuss a series of books on medical topics. During lunch, Lyn said, “Walt, tell us about your first year in practice.” I began to relate some of these stories. We laughed and our eyes got misty, and with some stories we were deeply moved. At the conclusion of our lunch, Scott, Lyn, and Cindy had decided to publish the “Tales.” Therefore, I must first and foremost acknowledge that the birth of
Bryson City Tale
s is due to Scott's, Lyn's, and Cindy's encouragement and affirmation.

A special thank-you is owed Cindy Hays Lambert, who tirelessly worked with me during the development of this book. Cindy's care, her coaching and direction, and her friendship and handholding during every phase of the growth of this “baby” were instrumental in the process of coming to a final manuscript. She single-handedly took the raw stories of a writing neophyte and assisted him in shaping the final work. Cindy, I appreciate what you have done—but most of all I appreciate who you are.

The editors who labored over the final manuscript, Traci Mullins and Dirk Buursma, are owed my eternal gratitude for their loving care and molding of the
My administrative assistant, Donna Lewis, unselfishly assisted in manuscript review and in many, many research arrangements. Thanks, Donna.

BOOK: Bryson City Tales
6.83Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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