In July 1976, my wife, Nancy, who was pregnant with our first child, Erica, and I moved to God’s Country. It was hot, and the air conditioner in our duplex barely functioned. Only Channel 8 out of Salinas came in on our black-and-white TV.
There were three hospitals and one traffic light. A big night on the town was for us to walk to Courthouse Park and watch the cars go by.
My mentors were Dr. George Faris, Dr. George Richardson, Dr. Phil Lamb, and Dr. Russ Hoenes. The nearest CT scanner was at UC San Francisco, and HIV was three years into the future. At night working in the ER, the Rucker boys would give me a choice between a chest X-ray or a CBC for a sick patient, and I could not get both. I learned to diagnose with minimal lab and imaging.
At his retirement party, Dr. Chris Mills stated it best: “We could do anything. We managed inpatients, outpatients, and I assisted in surgery. I placed a temporary pacemaker while the nurse was reading the directions. There was no cardiologist.”
In the early 1980s, Dr. Spitze and Dr. Austin joined me to form Sierra Internal Medicine. I had the pleasure of working with the for the next 30 years. We learned from each other and evolved with the advances in medicine by educating ourselves. Many a night I spent reading New England Journal of Medicine after putting the kids to bed.
I’ve had the opportunity over the past 42 years to be involved in this wonderful community. Rotary has been a big part of my life. We have built parks, swimming pools, a senior center and major projects in Baja California. Giving back to the community has been an honor and fun.
None of this would have been possible without my wonderful wife, Nancy. While I was out being a hero, she was on the homefront raising our two remarkable children and making the whole thing work. For the past five years, she has been my partner in a small medical practice. I could never have done it without her.
As a physician, what have I learned? First of all, the patient must always come first. Do not allow technology and computers to pull you away from the patient’s bedside. Secondly, marry wisely. Thirdly, enjoy your community and have fun. Finally, read and keep up.
I would like to thank my patients and friends for trusting me to be their doctor. It has been an honor that I will always treasure. I have made errors but, working together, we have also had some successes. Hopefully, I have helped most of you achieve a better life through health and humor.
As the sun sets on my career, I am reminded of the line sung by Led Zeppelin. “It’s time for me to ramble on.”
James D. Mosson practiced medicine in Sonora for 42 years. He graduated from University Of California, Davis School of Medicine, and specialized in internal medicine.