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They called me “Wounddoc.”

The Wounddoc Bruce Ruben, M.D. at a press shoot, Encompass HealthCare & Wound Medicine, West Bloomfield, Michigan

They called me “wounddoc,” long before I became a doctor.

The residents in my college dorm called me “Wounddoc” because I had every kind of bandage, ointment and over-the-counter medicine known to man. Gauze, ACE bandages, steri-strips, surgical tape, splints — I practically ran an urgent care out of my dorm room. 

My favorite bandage was the knuckle bandage.  I had cloth knuckle bandages which were a dramatic improvement over the plastic strips because they flexed nicely.  (It’s not that I got hurt often,  I just had a thing for first aid supplies, I guess.)

So one day, Mike from upstairs knocked on my dorm door holding his arm which was wrapped in a towel. He said he needed a “band-aid.” In reality, Mike needed an emergency room, 15 sutures and at least a third-year med student.

See, while everyone else in the dorm were studying for finals, Mike was out taking down a 14-point buck, gutting it, dragging it up to his dorm room and butchering it. And in the process, he accidentally made a 10cm. cut in his left forearm. But it was worse than that.

Ever the naturalist, Mike decided to take care of his wound in his own way, which I’m sure differs from what the AMA recommends. He took some stringy part of the buck’s innards, dried it out in his toaster oven and with a Singer sewing needle, sewed his own arm wound closed. Sort of. Well, kind of.

Let’s just say that Mike didn’t do the best job suturing — probably because he had anesthetized  himself with a decent amount of Jack Daniels before attempting the procedure. Actually, it looked like something I would have come up with in arts & crafts and I have no artistic talents whatsoever.

I used up my quart stash of saline cleaning out the wound and ascertained that it was mostly superficial.  I remember feeling so useful and so indispensable as I skillfully applied my Johnson & Johnson sterile steri-strips. (Mike refused my extreme urging that he visit an ER proper.)

Well, that was it. I was hooked. The next morning, there was a beautiful 10-ounce venison fillet outside my door and a note that said simply, “Thanks Wounddoc!” What a great memory, yes?

When I think about those early days, I feel good that I landed in wound care. And all the new bandages we get to use!!!  I’m in Heaven!





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