Carrying the Black Bag
By Tom Hutton, M.D.
Note: This review was published in West Texas Historical Review, Volume 93, 2017.
“After all, I’d been lucky enough to avoid a sneak thief due to a very loyal, if not terribly bright Dalmation. Surely, good luck, along with the incorrigble Dice, must have been riding shotgun with me.”
Carrying the Black Bag is an eclectic and insightful collection of stories from the author’s time spent working as a neurologist in both Texas and Minnesota. The stories reveal an inside look about Hutton’s work as a doctor in both states. He shares the most important stories of his career with compassion, empathy, and humor.
In this well-written book, Hutton recalls the complexity of some of his most remarkable cases from the emotional toil to saving a young girl with Reye’s Syndrome to how he wound up playing detective on uncovering why a man was poisoning himself with arsenic. In one of the chapters, the author shares the humorous travel episode of him and Dice, the family’s dog as they traveled to Lubbock, Texas.
The symbolism of his black medical bag is interwoven throughout the book. Readers find out medical tidbits along the way like on the meaning of the lengths of medical coats.
Carrying the Black Bag should be a must read for all medical students. Why? Because Hutton gives readers glimpses in his memoir of his take on being in the medical profession to revealing that listening to patients is often more important than just treating an illness.
Carrying the Black Bag. A Neurologist’s Bedside Tales. By Tom Hutton, M.D. (Texas Tech University Press, 2015. Pp. vi – 250. Prologue, index, afterword, illustrations, photos. $27.95 Hardback.)