Sunday, June 8, 2014

My doctors are retiring

I've had Alan W as my primary care doc for 25 years. Friday is his last day of work after 33 years working at HMO's clinic. He sent a letter last week thanking his patients for all he's learned from them. There's a gathering on the afternoon of his last day for patients to come in and wish him well. I'll be out of town - watching my older son graduate from nursing school - but my husband Art will go, taking him a baggie of homemade biscotti as he always does at the holidays.

I am really going to miss this doc. Here's some of what he did for me in 25 years:
  • Suggested, in 1990, that I might have an issue with alcohol (I did) and congratulates me each year for the decision I made to stop drinking.
  • Talked current events with me, or travel, or healthy food, or climate change, during each appointment. (We're both slightly left of center politically, and he's more reluctant to fly than I am.) He's from Iowa, and teased me about each of the two trips I've taken there in the last couple of  years. He told me about Ashfall State Park in Nebraska, which I'd never heard of, and which turned out to be a fascinating place.
  • Conducted long email threads over several months to help me adjust my blood pressure medication. 
  • Respected my choices to try nonprescription supplements, chiropractic, and acupuncture. "If they work for you, that's fine."
  • Respected my choice to remain anxious for years about "in-my-mind" illnesses (I'm very healthy but worry anyway), until I finally said, "Help, help!" and then prescribed an effective medication, coaching me as I found the right dose to tame the anxiety.
  • Called me the night my husband had a cardiac arrest. I'd emailed Alan via Art's online account about the event. Alan and I talked for 45 minutes about the circumstances and the prognosis. At the end he said, "Anything else I can do?" "Yes, you should probably call Art." Which he did. Alan and Art had a five-minute conversation. Alan knew who needed the consultation that night.
  • Laughed at me from time to time. Laughed with me a lot.
It felt like we were friends. He was safe to talk to. Sometimes I had to wait in the lobby for a while, but I always got all the time I needed. I didn't mind waiting because I knew all his other patients got the same quality of care.

I'm sad for me but very happy for Alan, as he pursues his interest in hiking and photography and puts to use, in his own life, all he has learned from his patients. (That's what he said in his retirement letter!) I sent him an email thanking him for all his help through the years. He replied - thanking me!

My only other doctor at present is an ophthalmologist. Dr. S did an office surgery on my eyelids a few years ago (if saggy eyelids interfere with vision, their tightening is a medical expense covered by insurance). She reassured me when I had one vitreous detachment five years ago and another one three years ago. She recommended me for cataract surgery on my right eye two years ago but said my left-eye cataract wasn't ready yet. Dr. S was professional and competent, but she was the doctor and I was the patient, and that was it.

Dr. S retired two weeks ago. Last week I went in to have the left-eye cataract evaluated. My new doc, Dr. G, took a look, explained the benefits and the risks of cataract surgery, told me that, on a 1-to-10 scale, my cataract is a 4, and that it's up to me when I choose to have the surgery. "When it starts to affect your quality of life, call and make an appointment." He didn't say no. He left it up to me. So I decided to wait! I love the choice rather than being told not yet.

Doctors retire, and new doctors take their place. I guess I'm good with that.


DJan said...

I think you are very fortunate in your doctors, Linda. Since I've moved away from Boulder, I have had a couple of doctors, but I cannot imagine carrying on an email conversation with either of them! I hope your new doctor is as nice as your previous one. :-)

Grandmother (Mary) said...

You describe such a warm professional relationship with your doctor and it sounds like it was good for both of you. When I think of how many doctors ignore or fail to find out about drinking problems and how many lives have been lost as a result makes me doubly glad for your docs thoroughness and your response. Good for both of you!

Dee said...

Dear Linda, like DJan, I think you have been "fortunate" in your doctors. In Minnesota I had one such doctor and he was a treasure. I think that he and your Dr. Alan W are similar in their respect for and liking for their patients. You'll miss him but as you said, you seem to do really well in relating to doctors. Peace.

Olga Hebert said...

It seems that I have reached that age where all the medical personnel (not that there are that many) in my life are reaching retirement age as well. It is something of an adjustment to have a doctor who is younger take over.

Lester said...

Great post, Linda. My Dr.(s) are quite a bit younger than I. I'd hate to try to "train" a new one.

Friko said...

Yes, even our doctors retire. It always strikes me as strange, which is not at all sensible of me.

Iam sure you will find new doctors to get on with, and if not, you can probably change them until you do.

Here’s hoping you won’t need one all that often.

Tom Sightings said...

One of the issues of getting older . . . I have had two of my doctors retire. And my primary care physician of the last 15 years died of cancer just last month. He was my age, born ten days before I was.

Linda Reeder said...

I think you have been fortunate too, but I also think you create some of your good fortune just by being who you are. Who wouldn't want to spend as much time with you as possible.

Anonymous said...

My doctor, whom I adore, is battling a deathly disease and may not make it. I am crushed as she is the best doctor ever, but even more so, she is the most wonderful person.

Hope your new doctors are as terrific as the ones who have retired.

Unknown said...

Finding a doctor who you trust, respect and is able to spend quality time with you is a rare thing. I have had a few health issues over the years and have established a close bond with my physician. He too is nearing retirement and I will miss our relationship. The good news is there is one less reason to prevent my move to my retirement digs sooner rather than later! Enjoy your retirement :)

QuiltinLibraryLady said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Ashfall. It's just a few miles from my home in Orchard and is a very unique place. The man who discovered it grew up here...his mother still lives here. But, like so many people who live near sites like that, I've only visited a time or two. Bad me! LOL

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