We had no idea who "Dooley" was until arriving at LPCH (Lucile Packard Children's Hospital). At LPCH we had seen multiple Doctors and several mentioned they enjoyed reading Dr. Womack's charts as he was an entertaining writer and his personality showed through in his report writing. I think it might have been after the echo cardiogram when one Dr mentioned she would send a copy to "Dooley". We had just been talking about Dr Womack so I inferred the two were the same but inquired to validate. I mentioned "This is the first we've heard of him being referred to as such, I'll have to ask him about it when we get home."
We've liked Dr Womack since our first visit with the Chuck Taylor wearing Doctor. From the get go we figured he was OK, a little off but that just makes someone more interesting. If I were to distill his demeanor (which I am) I would describe him as a grown-up sandlot kid, the nice kind. He always seems ready to break into a joke or tell a story or laugh at yours; you know laugh lines at the edge of the eyes always poised and ready to crinkle (critical potential humor). Except when he's at bat or building a fort or doing something else equally as critical and requiring extreme focus, like looking at a baby's heart in utero or something. I think our first visit was about 2 hours (twice as long as what we'd expected). When Beth initially jumped (maybe sat on after stepping on a stool) onto the procedure bed, Dr Womack told us he didn't like to talk while conducting the echo cardiogram and we could all discuss the results when he was finished. We figured that was OK as we really wanted him to focus and see if it was a curve or a slider coming at him. About an hour later he did crack and mumbled "I haven't spent this much time on an echo in years, this guy's tough to get a picture of." Another 1/2 hour and he finally decided to call it quits and sat back and talked to us. He didn't administer a prognosis and depart, he sat and engaged in a verbal discourse (with us) for another hour. He told us what he thought he had found but confided he wasn't positive and we would need to look again. He also volunteered the worst case scenario and then just talked to us. His significant vocabulary lost us a few times but we could glean what he was talking about via the context of the conversation. His speech wasn't intended to ostentatiously impress though, this was just a smart guy talking his talk about his walk and if you're going to walk your walk you might as well talk about your walk in the manner in which you speak. The really delightful part of being technically and linguistically overwhelmed is that he assumed we were grasping most of what he was saying, he thought we were as intelligent (or close to) as he was! That's a pretty incredible way to treat people! It worked too, the more he talked the more we grasped and fathomed fairly semi-adequately.
As near as I can tell the guy either has no ego or has realized how to place it in check (probably the latter as you can't be that capable and intelligent and not realize it). Bottom line is it's not apparent and shouldn't be for any of us but that's damned difficult to do. This was blatantly evident on our last visit prior to heading for Stanford. Dr Womack thought the septal defect was looking better but wasn't absolutely sure and stated "I'll just send this to my colleagues at Stanford and let the most nervous person in the room make the call".
For those of you reading previous editions/dates/pages of this blog you might remember the red converse, Dr Womack's footwear of preference. Gabriel ended up with multiple pairs of Converse socks (red and non-red varietals) so Beth and I thought we should emulate the lad and honor Dr Womack.
After performing his evaluation and declaring Gabriel as "fantastic" I had to ask where "Dooley" came from. You can't help liking to say "Dooley" and it suggests a familiarity and kinship and immediately makes you a better person if you have a friend named "Dooley" which is why I understood the LPCH Doctors referring to Womack as Dooley, but where'd it come from?
Dr Womack stated "I've actually been named Dooley twice." This story was improving before it even began. He talked of a Jr High School gym coach who had played minor league ball, coached baseball and wrestling and threw a mean dodge ball (which Womack had caught in the face a few times). I don't know if dodge ball is still allowed in schools and if it is I'm sure the gym teachers don't get to peg kids like they used to. We played with the big red playground balls augmented with just a few of the small light blue balls, those things seemed rocket propelled and when hurled from an adult arm into a child's face were awe inspiring but character building. The gym teachers never hit the girls hard or in the face, but the boys... it was their job to toughen us up. If you could take that ball in the face or really anywhere and not bleed or tear up... that was a rite of passage. You knew you were something and the other kids observed that you had chutzpah and the self discipline to keep your blood and tears to yourself. The saving grace was that you were out and could stand on the sidelines and breathe and work at holding onto your composure, I don't think any kid could have taken two of those in a row. The gym teacher had played minor league baseball and therefore was an expert on all things baseball and immediately labeled Womack "Dooley" after the Major League pitcher Dooley Womack.