I have now been out of the active medicine for two years. I still have dreams about being a doctor and practice. I don’t think you can do the same thing day in and day out for 40 years and not have it be a part of who you are. I am still asked my opinion by friends and family about their health issues, and frankly, I find my fund of knowledge is slipping away. I did renew my license in the state of Florida that required 40 hours of continuing medical education. (I did mine mostly online.) I don’t know if I will renew it again in 2019.
Being on Medicare, I visit doctors — probably too often. I have become what I disliked in my elderly patients. That is having the time now and financial means with Medicare insurance, to visit a doctor without much financial repercussion. I was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease last summer after a hospitalization. I learned that you could acquire the disease even in your 60s. I am on my third primary care doctor. The first internist was great, although somehow thought I should have a routine echo every year.
However, he did not admit to my closest hospital, and after a few admissions there I grew tired of being cared for by a hospitalist team. (I will blog more on that at a later date.) The second one was a family practice doctor who pooh-poohed my use of statins for primary prevention. He also thought that I should try testosterone and thyroid even though my levels were within a normal range. My third one seems great.
I am busy with writing, reading, cooking, gardening, fishing, and travel. I don’t exercise as much as I should and have been in physical therapy too often for shoulder and knee issues. People who find out I am a retired doctor ask why I don’t play golf. Other than being in the Mark Twain school of golf (a good walk spoiled), I respond that if I want to be frustrated and have a backache, I can go fishing. At least with that, I can usually bring home dinner. My joint complaints are all too common with seniors who still think they are 30 years old. My latest orthopedic appointment and joint injection was for a torn knee meniscus after I fell off my boat and missed the dock.
I don’t find medicine getting any more efficient or personal. I still have to fill out the same forms three times and respond to text messages about my upcoming appointments more than once. I stopped text messages from my pharmacy since they didn’t really tell me which medication they were calling about and I had to call them back anyway. Was the L for Lexapro or Lipitor?
I suppose I could have worked a few more years. However, I watched a close radiology friend fall victim to Parkinson’s disease and then die quickly after the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. I decided to exit now and enjoy what few physically and mentally intact years I might have left. You don’t usually get a mulligan when it comes to retirement, so my advice to other docs is think long and hard about it before you make that jump.
David Mokotoff is a cardiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, David Mokotoff. He is the author of The Moose’s Children: A Memoir of Betrayal, Death, and Survival and can be reached on Twitter @FreeMarketdoc.
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