A MEASURE OF MY DAYS: The Journal of a Country Doctor by

A MEASURE OF MY DAYS: The Journal of a Country Doctor

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A muted self-portrait of an introspective, spiritually grounded family physician. Loxterkamp chronicles one year in his life, from July 1992 to June 1993, in the small, blue-collar town of Belfast, Maine. His daily pattern is to rise at 4:30 A.M., make coffee, feed the cats, put on some sacred music, and then, while his wife and daughter are still sleeping, sit clown at his computer and write in his journal for two hours. The book drawn from those journals offers a richly detailed picture of a physician's life bearing little resemblance to Norman Rockwell's version of the country doctor. Loxterkamp shows us a man fighting off depression, an outsider working hard at belonging to a community, a family-practice physician who sees specialization in medicine changing the world around him, and a husband whose marriage is going through rough times. His medical practice seems to alternate between deliveries and deaths; there are plenty of encounters with the hardscrabble poor for whom alcoholism and despair are the chronic diseases shaping their lives. A committed Catholic and an admirer of Thomas Merton's autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain, Loxterkamp attends faith-sharing meetings at his parish church, often wears a chasuble and stole to deathbeds, and goes on retreat to a Trappist monastery. He's also a champion worrier, a dogged runner, a conscientious doctor, and, unfortunately, a rather pedestrian writer. He speaks of celebrating the little things, and of what May Sarton called the ""sacramentality of the routine,"" but here the abundance of details of Loxterkamp's everyday life deadens the reader's interest. Unlikely to inspire many young physicians to take up the life of a country doctor.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1997
Page count: 334pp
Publisher: Univ. Press of New England