Saturday, September 8, 2012

Congratulations, Joe

To Joe, On his Graduation Day

   Graduating from high school  is a huge event in our lives, marking the end of our childhood and the beginning of adult life.  A milestone we all remember well, no matter how long ago it occurred.  I'm sure it will be memorable for you. 

Since you have always been such an " old soul", the transition before you won't be a difficult one. You are ready! I see nothing but success and joy in your future, in whatever direction you take. 

I have always admired your positive outlook , your strong spirituality, your musical talent, your sense of humor, and your ability to think for yourself, even if it means feeling like you are swimming upstream. You live big, and all of these experiences have built your rich character. You are one fine man!   

Continue to grow and refine your gifts. 
Develop an attitude of servant-leadership; for as we focus on helping others reach their goals, our own dreams  are realized. 
Be a listener.
Try new things.
Embrace every experience.
Be humble.
Follow your heart.
Always do the right thing.
Laugh a lot every day.
Give out of your own needs.
Keep an "attitude of gratitude".
Remember that you are so loved.

In my mind's  eye, you will always remain the little boy in tights and a fur collar, singing and dancing through Cats. We all knew then that you were absolutely unique and special. And, although you have traded the tail for the trumpet, you remain very unique and special.  I am so proud of you, and I am so excited to see where the future leads you. 


Thursday, August 2, 2012


My Medicare card came in the mail the other day, and Social Security is set to begin in September. Life as I have known it will cease, the job; career really, and all the attendant responsibilities that have been a part of me for so many years will end and i will officially be retired.  I will leave the clinic with more than a bit of anxiety and many mixed emotions.  My days in medicine are over, since I have chosen to not renew my license. There's no turning back.  It is time to reinvent myself, as a newly ( and happily)  retired colleague counseled. His exuberance is encouraging, I am less frightened by the changes that are fast approaching. The fear is of the unknown, leaving the safe and familiar; even though it has become energy draining and stressful. The fear is of losing a large part of my identity, that of a damn good practitioner, and really loving the work I have done. There is anxiety in admitting that I am getting OLD! Medicare, grey hair, reading glasses, a little arthritis, post-menopausal weight gain...who is this person!
Thus, the need to reinvent me, this new me.....with freedom from a job, to go when and where I please,  and to be more responsible now for my own life and decisions than for the lives of strangers. I have interests that I have not had time or energy to pursue, I have cleaning and laundry and yard work that have always been such a chore because all of my energy was spent on the job. And, not less than these, a family that has waved goodbye in the morning and not seen me again for two days! And when I came home, all I wanted to do was sleep! We sacrificed much for my career.
So, the possibilities in front of me now are endless.  Time.  Energy.  Freedom.
It's the leap that scares me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Goodbye, Dr. Welby

Another doctor sent out his retirement letter today. I read it, thinking that we are seeing the end of an era. The days of your family doctor actually being your doctor "til death do you part" is over, gone the way of house calls and the traditional black bag he carried. We have replaced them with computers and sub-specialists. This is the day of a team of specialists, none of whom really know who you are, and rarely communicate with each other....or you!
Don't get me wrong, Medicine is better than ever! Knowledge has increased dramatically, new drugs and procedures save lives, everything that science has brought us has improved both longevity and quality of life.  This is the science part of the "Art and Science" that is Medicine.  Art, however, has diminished in popularity and importance.
 There seems to be an inverse correlation between the two, which is tragic as far as I'm concerned. The smarter we get, the less we care about the people we see every day.
We care about symptoms, test results, standards of care, even wait times.....but don't know the person it all revolves around.
The old way of black bag medicine and house calls told us so much more about our patients. We could assess mental status, depression, financial well being, diet, and safety concerns in just minutes in a house call. That throw rug could be removed before the fall that fractures a hip. Is there enough firewood or heating oil for the winter? Who else lives here?
I don't think "health care reform" will do much good. We need more time with patients, more hands on, low tech medical care....not the fancy machines and tests and computers that substitute for real caring.
Medicine IS an art and a science; unfortunately Art is being overshadowed by Science and a growing corporate mentality. Money has replaced ministry. Computers take the place of compassion; and the entire process is rushed and depersonalised.
Hippocrates is rolling over in his grave!