Monday, December 19, 2016

'Retiring' at Christmas 2016

Ben and Theresa are thriving in Cherry Creek. Ben is surviving the second of four years juggling up to 16-20 emergency patients at once. Sleepless in Denver, he rotates days, evenings and nights 2 days at a time, then starts over. Theresa is working from home full time through the sum of two parts, Glow (women’s fertility App based in Shanghai) where she used to work and a new analytics start-up based in SF. She is a real foodie and Ben and I were the Thanksgivingful beneficiaries. I was there twice in the last 3 weeks with their two black spot on white rescue dogs, Newton who has warmed to me after nipping me several times last year and Bo who has not. I’ve learned that Denver has more sunny days than San Diego and is a hot destination mecca, the driven up cost of real estate is unreal. Besides the many long dog walks, Ben took me for a spectacular mountain rim walk. We also went to see Moonlight, insightful, intense, tender which we highly recommend.

Rachel and John and Naomi age 4 and Jack age 6 (Ms. full of vim and Mr. lego vigor respectively) are settling into Mendham, especially into their young kids-plentiful 17 house cul de sac. Jack is in kindergarten, just started Tae Kwon Do working on his yellow belt and otherwise walks on legos and talks on Star Wars. Naomi is loving Montessori (3rd generation), tries to keep up with big brother, using both her tough (packs and punch) and soft (empathetic) sides. Rachel returned to shorter triathlons while recruiting neighbor and friend, and completed her first marathon (discounting the 4 as part of the Ironwomen) just 10 sec over qualifying for the Boston. John strategized (through 4 major acquisitions) so well that in the WSJ last week it was announced that his company was purchased by a Swiss health conglomerate. So change is afoot or longer.

So retirement is in my ether. Despite being planned a year, it arrived suddenly, almost unexpectedly. I walked through Day Surgery always abuzz with post-anesthetized children where I had performed so many endoscopies … for the last time. Mostly, the scent for me was nostalgia. The reception was held last Friday under winter storm warnings where the hospital closed early. Going out in a blizzard. My chief recalled how Teri held his hand during the last week of her life and asked him to take care of me … she was always trying to look out for others … even to the very end. My GI fellow (in training) mentees who are now on pediatric faculty and the gastroenterologist who I helped start an adult Cyclic Vomiting Program graciously captured my evidently self-less yet successful mentoring approach. Nothing is better than seeing the next gen mentees succeed and carry on. Such warm feelings. Most of the thoughts about my disheartening fight with the medical school about their refusal to cover her bone marrow transplant and rescue chemotherapy receded into my recesses. I chose to make a point about hope despite more than half of my time here being spent in end of life care for Teri and my father and its aftermath. I had self healed and in so doing become a better person, largely as a result of Teri’s life example, her strong core values supporting women’s rights, diversity, disadvantaged and family, and her ever in the present mindfulness. She was there.

Mentees Dr. Lerner, Chris my nurse and Dr. Kovacic

Because everyone would ask what I was going to do which would not allow me time to find what they were up to, I made a personal poster for the reception. I share it with you below. A fellow faculty commented that I would eventually have to retire from all those full-time retirement activities.

What am I going to DOOOOO?
Imm gun you (Cantonese)
Fasting intermittently is doable, interesting. and healthy
Not sure if my knees will take it this year, we'll see
National teleconsultation may work out!  But where to land? 

Several amusing and memorable anecdotes percolated up. After returning from a speaking trip in Shanghai, severely time lagged, I overslept deeply, didn’t answer my cell, land phone or pager, and missed the start of my clinic. My assistant Nadine distressed that something medically serious might have befallen me … well imagine awakening to two fully armed policemen standing over my bed trying to arouse me! “I’m Ok, I’m OK, I’m OK, just jet lagged.” During my year-long intermittent fast diet – my anniversary was Dec 8 still down 10% in body weight and 2¼” in waist – my nurse Chris detecting a note of impatience in clinic would nicely ask, “Is this a fasting day?” and embarrassingly always be spot on. Lastly, Lisa my former nurse referred to me as the ‘Wizard’ (of cyclic vomiting syndrome) as these patients and their families traveled from 42 states and 5 continents. Lest, my head become swelled, she would also add that in fact I was only the little man behind the curtain cranking up the smokescreen with a larger than life aura. I guess I have to get back to Kansas, now.

Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah 2016, Happy New Year and Happy Chinese New Year (Jan 28 – Rooster) 2017 to your families ... especially your grand kids, born and yet unborn.

1 comment:

  1. You sound great! Congratulations on your retirement-Enjoy!