PORTLAND, Maine – In his new memoir, “Go by Boat: Stories of a Maine Island Doctor,” Chuck Radis has a quote from another doctor: “Illnesses are easy; the patients are tough.
When Dr. Radis began serving residents of four islands in Casco Bay (Peaks, Long, Chebeague, and Cliff), he discovered something else that was difficult: getting around. He spent about eleven hours of each week working on a ferry, going from island to island making house calls. Many Islanders had no interest in coming to Portland for medical treatment.
“I used to meet people who saw me at the clinic,” he recalls, “who said,“ I haven’t been to this side of the island for ten years. “It should be noted that you can travel the length of Peaks in about five minutes.
Soon after, Radis settled into the rhythm of island life and became very affectionate for his patients, a warmth emanates from his book. “Surgeons write a lot,” he notes, and they tend to focus on their nerves of steel and the important and dramatic issues in their work. It wasn’t the kind of story he wanted to tell; its goal was to capture the daily determination and courage of the islanders.
“I wanted to show how people adapt and sometimes overcome great challenges,” he says. “Knowing these people for a long time, I wanted to show this side of resilience. “