Amongst the Planes


For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29: 11

I strongly believe that each of us has been created for a specific purpose, to carry out a great plan. And I am quite certain that I was made to be a family doctor. Long before I knew the Lord, He guided me to this calling, and it was the best plan ever! There were so many forks in the road to get there, but somehow together we chose the right one. One of those forks was to spend time in a small east Texas town. The physicians of the Glenn-Garrett Clinic in Linden, TX taught me and modeled for me what it takes to be a family doctor. And I am forever grateful.

As I’ve thought back about those times, I realize that I learned most from being confronted with situations; some uncomfortable, some funny, some needing a trained hand that I didn’t possess at the time. Dr. Vernon Glenn was the patriarch of medical care in Linden and became a huge influence on my life and my career. He was crusty and rough around the edges, but wise and caring for the families that called him their family doctor.

One evening I was called to see a patient in labor. She was the wife of the town banker, an especially important couple in a small town. I called Dr. Glenn, and he assured me that he would be there if I needed him. As her labor progressed I called the nurse anesthetist who provided anesthesia care for the Linden hospital (at the time they still used general anesthesia for deliveries). This particular nurse anesthetist lived in a single-wide on the edge of town. It seems that someone’s husband had caused him to vacate in a huge hurry with food still on the stove! I had no anesthesia.

I called Dr. Glenn in a panic, but in his usual Texas-casual way he told me to not worry, he was on the way. He arrived in his cowboy boots and Stetson hat as always. He assigned me to handle the delivery and he would give the anesthesia. Now to explain, when a patient responds to the effects of anesthesia they progress through a number of levels of “asleep-ness.” These levels are called “planes” of anesthesia. This baby was coming quickly, my patient was in pain, and I needed to perform an episiotomy, a surgical procedure to allow easier passage of the baby’s head through the birth canal. Anxiously I looked up at Dr. Glenn shouting, “Where is she?” (meaning “Is she asleep yet?”). In his casual Texas drawl he said, “Hell boy…. you just go ahead and do what you need to do. She’s somewhere amongst the planes!”

A healthy boy was born that evening without complications. And a young doctor learned a great deal about how to handle tough situations. As we left the hospital that night Dr. Glenn walked out with me putting his arm around my shoulder telling me I did a good job. And I marveled at the wisdom of this medical man from rural east Texas. Thank you Dr. Glenn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *