Paying a Housecall to Sen. Frist

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Check out the pictures posted today — they are pics you won't see anywhere else! We took a short "road trip" yesterday — by foot — to the U.S. Capitol to interview Senate Majority Leader Bill First (aka Dr. Frist).

In fact, it as his "aka" that brought us to his office. As you may know, Senator Frist is a lung and heart transplant doctor in addition to leading the U.S. Senate. We have been putting the spotlight on the miraculous transplant surgery the last few weeks while watching our colleague Catherine Herridge and her son go through their medical steps... and so we wanted to talk to Senator Frist.

We air our interview with Senator Frist tonight. Don't expect a political interview: this is not a political interview. Rather it is a chance to learn a bit more about transplants and also a chance to learn a bit more about a Senate leader.

I walked away from the interview with a few observations: one is the suspicion that Senator Frist misses the action of being a full-time surgeon, but that he also loves his current work. I should note that Senator Frist does still practice medicine: from time to time he travels to Africa to provide medical care, but obviously not full time.

Here is something you probably didn't know: Sen. Frist checked a gorilla's heart — I am not kidding — at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. In some informal research that he did on his own, Sen. Frist found that almost all gorillas in captivity died of hardening of their hearts. So he wanted to research on why that was. He proudly showed me a picture of one of his patients lying on the operating table. Of course since I am an animal lover, I was immensely impressed... and a bit jealous. (The last picture of my photo essay today is of Senator Frist showing me the pic!)

Senator Frist allowed us free rein in his office and I took lots of pictures, which are posted. He has portraits of former Republican Senate majority leaders hanging on his wall in his conference room — which I took pics of. What you can't see in any of the pics is Frist's stethoscope — he keeps one on his desk, but you can't see it in the picture (the picture is not a close up.)

As an aside — and to keep this "fair and balanced" — I intend to take other "road trips" to Capitol Hill to interview Democrats about their former careers. Before many became politicians, they had successful other careers. There are the obvious "other careers," like being a first lady, but there are other not so obvious, but fascinating prior jobs. (Senator Feingold went to college with me, but I still can't get him on the show!)

Finally, I hope you watch this interview with Senator Frist. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, it is always interesting to see other or former careers of those in positions of influence. I get a bit bored from time to time seeing our politicians talking only about politics — I like to see more and, of course, I think transplant surgery enormously important to all of us even if we never need a transplant ourselves.

On another note: Sunday, as you may know, is Father's Day. If you are looking for a great gift, it is not too late to get Tim Russert's "Wisdom of Our Fathers." And, if you don't get it before Father's Day, get it after and read it! It is a book that will inspire you — it has many personal stories from the famous and not so famous. I must be right about the book since it is topping all the best-seller lists!

Now for some e-mails:

E-mail No. 1

Dear Greta,
In a past life I was a teacher, and at only a couple years older than my students (and pretty much a cutie pie) I was VERY careful about my dress, demeanor, etc. In fact, I refused to take a part in a local dinner theater because it called for dressing as a "French maid." A sentence of 20 years seems a bit harsh, but I don't see how this teacher has any classroom management and certainly there is NO integrity when this behavior is part of the mix. (All the kids know what is going on.)
What bugs me the most is this rash of behavior. What the heck is going on? Story after story of teachers having sex with their students. What do you think the answer is? Couldn't the colleges screen for psychological problems in teacher candidates?
My husband and I own a bar. You can't get a license without a background check. However, even though I have held insurance, real estate and teaching licenses in this state, it was not until I bought a bar that anyone seemed to be interested in my character. All I am doing at the bar is serving alcohol to willing participants of a certain age.
I think our priorities are a bit out of whack, to say the least.
Sarah Hirz

E-mail No. 2

Dear Greta,
I was a professor and public school teacher for over 35 years before retiring. There is a line that as a professional, you do not cross — period. That line must be absolute with respect to high school students. It can become somewhat blurred on the college level. Personal case in point: I was dating a college student while I was a professor (she was not one of my enrolled students), after about a year of dating, she found out that she needed my class for graduation... so, she quietly enrolled. We went to the "ends of the earth" to insure that first, no one knew we were dating and second that I treated her like everyone else. Truth be known, I was actually harder on her with respect to papers and examinations than I was with the others... couldn't help it, because I knew she was capable of more AND I wanted to insure that if someone found out, everyone could attest to the fact that I expected nothing less than excellence from her. No one ever knew until later...
Well, we were married two years after she took my class, and have been married for the past 20 years and have a lovely daughter. Kind of funny, at our wedding, several of her friends, who were also in the class with her, asked me/chastised me for giving her such a hard time... but, they understood and said that they respected my decision. So, there is always an exception on the college level... but none (at least for me) on the high school level.
My wife and I are both retired now and look back with some fond memories of that time, so many years ago. BTW, she still gives me hell for being so hard on her... my reply, it gave her character. When I say that, I get a night on the couch.
Thanks for listening,
Dr. James Clary

E-mail No. 3

I received my second Bachelors degree at age 46. While I was a student, why should I not be allowed to have sex with my 40-year-old professor?
Robert Riddick

ANSWER: Robert, we are talking about HIGH SCHOOL, not college.

E-mail No. 4

When I was in high school in 1967 one of our teachers MARRIED a student. She was a senior, cheerleader. He was a chemistry teacher. I had a mixed (grade level) class as a junior with him and SHE was in our class. We had a suspicion that something was going on and midway through the year they married. Today? How would they handle that? To the best of my knowledge they stay married.

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