The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives. —Anthony Robbins
The best standard for finding a good doctor, for my money, is communication. Making a good friend is often an exercise of “the right place at the right time.” Bill Ginn was a perfect example of both axioms in my life.
What good is medical advice you don’t understand because the good doctor can’t communicate it? What better doctor or friend is there than one who is honest to a fault? Dr. Ginn never failed on either point, administering a healthy dose of his trademark wry humor with both.
Dr. William “Bill” Ginn, Jr. passed away March 8, 2018, in Center, Texas, at 87. He came to Center in 1977 to join Memorial Clinic with Doctors Mallory and Hooker. I arrived a couple of years later, and he became my physician and a good friend.
Common interests and humor lead to our friendship, but he remained my physician earning my trust as a no-nonsense communicator. Patiently explaining how my niacin “OD” before breakfast one morning had me thinking I was done for, he was also quick to discredit the list of vitamins I felt was contributing to my healthy status. He pulled no punches telling me how and why I was wasting money, adding, “Just eat healthy, it’s the better option.”
On another visit, one seeking help with my expanding waistline from eating too much healthy, his no nonsense advice was, “It’s easy. Eat anything you want.”
Before I could question this unorthodox prescription for weight loss, he added with a smile, “And, if it tastes good, spit it out.”
Office visits became routinely predictable. “How are you today,” was his standard greeting as he reviewed my file.”
“Fine,” was my usual reply.
This is when he would drop his chin, look over his glasses and reply, “Don’t lie to me. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you were fine. Now, tell me why you’re here … but first, how’s the family? How are things at the newspaper?”
In the beginning, this seemed like friendly chat, and I’m sure to some degree it was. However, it soon dawned on me that he was following the teachings of the older physicians that many today have foregone—knowing what’s going on in the patient’s life is the beginning of diagnosing medical issues.
Those conversations were also the revelation of common interests that included things like flying. His path to medicine and our conversations included a stint in the U.S. Army as a helicopter pilot and instructor. My path was earning a fixed-wing pilot’s license in Mount Pleasant, Texas before moving to Center.
Dr. Ginn had a newfound interest in ultralight aircraft at the time, so I offered to fly him up to Mount Pleasant where a manufacturer was located. Capitalizing on the trip to my hometown, I left him at the airport to research while I enjoyed lunch with my parents.
During his tour of the facility, the owner suffered a heart attack. So it was that while in Mount Pleasant to glean knowledge about his hobby interest, the physician recognized someone having a heart attack, summoned help and stayed in constant communication with both until help arrived.
Recounting the unpredictable events of the day while flying back to Center, I noted that his decision to look at an airplane very likely saved a life. “Right place at the right time,” he smiled as he watched the East Texas country side passing below us.
I entrusted my health care to Bill Ginn for many years. The bonus was a friend and many memories of his wit and wisdom, stories I delight in communicating any place and any time.