Friday, June 30, 2017

Review: Bag Balm & Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor by Beach Conger

Review of Bag Balm and Duct Tape: Tales of a Vermont Doctor by Beach Conger, M.D.
Paperback, 272 pages
Published September 1989 by Fawcett
Dates Read: March 30, 2015 - November 8, 2016

As you can see by how long it took me to read this book, this was a difficult book to get through. It was chosen for book club out of about 5 selections with a Vermont theme because it seemed to be the most appealing. Since the book club is based in Vermont, we wanted to read something based in the state.

The book started out slow as he's describing the countryside and transition to living in Vermont, in a "slower" pace of life than he was accustomed to previously. It read like a journal that was adapted for publication for the serious reader and the casual reader. The serious reader notes were a bit hilarious and at times unnecessary because it could've easily been worked into the story instead of being added to it to be published.

Many of the chapters (or should I call them journal entries?) seemed to be mostly him complaining about everything that is wrong with Western medicine. About halfway through the book is when it got better when he learned how to treat patients rather than the disease. It took him moving to a small town to learn that everything he learned in med school and practiced elsewhere isn't necessarily the right way of practicing medicine. He learned that he needed to treat the person and earn their trust rather than treat the disease.

I don't remember the specific point in the book when it happened, but I do remember suddenly enjoying the story and appreciating his humor, grace, and appreciation for the hardy lifestyle of Vermonters who don't take shit from outsiders they call flatlanders.

The book was obviously dated with there being references to specific treatments and medications that are no longer recommended, which will happen with many books on the topic of medicine.

Because I felt like the book read as a journal and it was dated, I got bored easily and had trouble getting back into it at first. I did not finish it in time for book club, but did pick it back up when a friend and I started talking about it. I finished it so that we could discuss it more in depth and he felt similarly disappointed in the title being misleading.

Rated: 3 out of 5 on Goodreads. My definition of 3 out of 5 is that it was an okay read. It's not for me, but I can see why others enjoy it.

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