London, ’79

My classmate friend and fellow author Sandy Northrop Jones asked if I got “college credit” for the 2 months I’d spent in London as a medical student. That begged a response, which I offered:

Oh my, yes.  U of C encouraged study abroad, and my favorite cardiology attending Dr. Resnekov had connections.  He set me up with Aubrey Leatham at St.George’s Hospital while I applied as a general visiting student to the Brompton (the national chest hospital).  Before I decided on rheumatology, my two favorite specialties were cardiology and pulmonary.  It was a wonderful experience.  I learned a bunch – more and different than I would have had I just hung around Chicago for those two months – saw many interesting things, and enjoyed the bird watching.  I’ve assembled a couple of triptychs for you. 

The first shows St. George’s Hospital on the left.  The big white building dates to the early 1800s and, situated right across from Hyde Park Corner, was said to be the most expensive piece of real estate in London at the time.  The next year, St. George’s moved everything to Tooting, where the medical school had moved several years earlier and where they put me up.  Tooting is a working class neighborhood 6 miles south of Hyde Park.  I took the 11 mile train ride in each morning.  If you know your London postal codes you’ll know that Tooting (SW.17) is just a stone’s throw from Wimbledon (SW.19).  SGH became a luxury hotel.  In the middle is the Brompton.  It’s west of SGH, still near Hyde Park (great place to run) and close to Royal Albert Hall, where Kathy and I were all set to go see Eric Clapton May before last before COVID ruined everything.  I liked it better than SG, as I was exposed to a variety of attendings and a wide range of odd and interesting diseases.   Plus, the students’/trainees’ quarters were right on the hospital grounds.  On the right is a picture of the phenomenon engulfing London at the time, the NUPE strike (National Union of Public Employees).  NUPE was the union of the garbage collectors so see what happens when they go on strike.  This was an open field in Tooting where people just stacked their garbage bags against the fence.  That strike probably did more to bring Margaret Thatcher into power than anything else then.

So let’s move on to the birds. 

See her the two I caught and the one that got away.  First, see Gillian M.B.Dyson, nurse at the Brompton.  Doesn’t she look cute in that getup?  Starched white apron, pale blue dress, big ornamental belt, black stockings, black leather shoes, and of course the cap.  I always liked a nurse in a proper uniform, but those British uniforms had it all over American versions.  My friends in the UK say their nurses stopped dressing like long ago and they go full slob now, just like their American counterparts.  That saucy redhead in the middle is Jenny Wood, visiting medical student from Adelaide Australia.  And yup, she had the personality to go with that look.  I think the only reason I could keep up with her is that I was twice her size.  Finally, there’s Dr. Deborah Baldwin.  She was one of the two registrars (sort of like a resident) attached to my service at the Brompton.  She was friendly in a British cool sort of way.  I think she presented herself to me as available if only I would do something.  I took that picture of her as she was sitting in the chair in my room at students’ quarters!  She probably got to wondering what’s wrong with this big dumb American boy.

Well, thanks for spurring me to revisit those good old times.  I was going to direct you to a story in Volume II,  but none of my medical stories “My brilliant career” made it in there!  I’ll be asking Amazon/Kindle if I can just insert them rather than make a whole new book. Here’s the story, mainly about me and the British cardiologists.  One of my favorites.

Published by rike52

I retired from the Rheumatology division of Michigan Medicine end of June '19 after 36 years there. Upon hitting Ann Arbor for the second time (I went to school here) it took me almost 8 months to meet Kathy, 17 months to buy her a house (on Harbal, where we still live), and 37 months to marry her. Kids never came, but we've been blessed with a crowd of colleagues, friends, neighbors and family that continues to grow. Lots of them are going to show up in this log eventually. Stay tuned.

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