While there were other mission doctors from time to time, she was the one I remember the most because she cared for me through a childhood illness. When I was 12 years old, home from school on holidays, I complained to my parents that my arm felt funny, that I couldn't always control it. At first, since this was the mid-1950s, my parents were very concerned that I might have contracted polio.
So, Dr. Kauffman was contacted, and she came, did a thorough physical exam and took a blood sample. The diagnosis--rheumatic fever. Of course, I couldn't have the usual symptoms--I had to develop St. Vitus' Dance, a spastic condition that renders a limb or limbs uncontrollable. That explained my quirky gait and the fact that my left arm would suddenly fly out to the side.
I have written before, in My Sibling Stories entry, about some of the things I did during that illness. I was confined to bed with complete restriction on any movement, excepting to get out of bed to use the toilet. What I did during that time I remember somewhat. Since my mother was pregnant with my sister, I was cared for by one of the missionary women who was a nurse. And weekly, Dr. Kauffman would come to see me, and draw blood. What she was doing with the blood was allowing the blood to settle to see how quickly it would separate into liquid and sediment. Frankly, I don't know why. Caused by A Streptococcus bacteria, rheumatic fever is nothing to be messed with, as it can leave residual heart valve damage.
One of the things I did during that time was look out the window. From my bed, I could see a stand of tall eucalyptus trees that was on the mission station. When the wind caught the leaves, they moved gracefully dancing and flashing. I stared out the window alot. So, when I heard that Dr. Kauffman had died, I looked out my study window. Not quite the same view, but evocative nevertheless.
Obviously, I was very grateful to Dr. Kauffman for the care she gave me. In addition to the weekly visits, she started me on penicillin and instructed me to continue it until past my teen years. I did, and whether from that, or good fortune, or her care, I rebounded with no residual cardiac damage at all.
For a while, during high school and my first year in college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor. No doubt I was influenced by the fine example of Dr. Kauffman. But, then in my freshmen year, I ran head long into chemistry--two semesters of it. And once I got a C the first semester, and a D the second, I determined that maybe I wasn't meant to be a doctor after all.