Thanks For Being My Patients And My Friends

It has now been eight months that I have retired from being a clinical urologist in Chautauqua County. I have had this time to reflect and think of what I accomplished as a urologist in a small county in Western New York. I look back and can say that through luck and hard work much has been accomplished. I look out the rear view mirror and can vividly see my first cases performed at WCA hospital as a young urologist fresh from training from the University of Rochester.

The first time I laid eyes on Lake Chautauqua was in the autumn of 2000. We fell in love with the beautiful fall foliage. Dr. Peter Walter was kind enough to greet us at the Bed and Breakfast in Maple Springs. We had dinner at the Hare n Hounds with a bunch of other doctors. We were comfortable and at ease. Dr. Walter handed me the employment contract and I remember shaking his hand on the shores of Chautauqua Lake and reassured him that he found his new partner. I could hear his sigh of relief as his search for a new partner was over.

Our family arrived in Jamestown in the summer of 2001 and I started working with vigor as I inherited a large patient load from Dr. Lido Palma (my predecessor). We were immediately busy seeing patients early in the morning until late at night. We both agreed that we needed another partner and quickly acquired Dr. Ryan White two years later. He finished his training from Albany and luckily had local ties to keep him around. We built a new office on 103 Allen Street. Little did we know we would outgrow the office and move to the old Crescent tool building on Foote Avenue. Our current building was renovated and ready to be moved into the summer of 2009. We had grown to twenty seven employees and were burgeoning at the waists. It is not hyperbole that we could not find enough chairs for our staff to sit.

We started an office in Dunkirk and started operating out of Brooks Memorial Hospital. Northern Chautauqua County was truly underserved from a urologic standpoint. Our offices consistently pulled in patients from Olean, Warren and even from Erie. I even had a patient drive from just outside Pittsburgh just to see me. I don’t know whether it was because he liked me because I cured him of his prostate and bladder cancer or whether I always gave him free samples of Viagra. I can only hope it was the former.

In the summer of 2011, I suffered an injury to my left foot that left me debilitated with pain. The accident happened on Lake Chautauqua as I was trying to go boating with another doctor. I was trying to show him a “good time.” Unfortunately, the only good time I had was when I received the Dilaudid from the Emergency Room doctor after my foot was severely crushed.

I am truly grateful for having the opportunity to treat so many patients and to have a direct impact on their lives. I look at my little neighborhood in Bemus Point and see how many of my neighbors were my patients. I envision how their lives have changed because of my actions and feel truly privileged. The instant gratification one feels as a urologist to help relieve someone suffering from a kidney stone is immeasurable. The feeling one gets when you are able to help someone who cannot urinate is priceless. The countless women who were leaking urine and are now happily dry and can live a fuller life not tethered to their house because of the stigma of incontinence. If you extrapolate my neighborhood to Chautauqua County then you get the enormity of the feeling of what I can only describe as Love. It sounds corny, but when I think of all the accomplishments it really comes down to Love. Did we help each other and Love each other while we were on earth? It sounds existential and philosophical. I am not a philosopher but a simple plumber (human plumber) as I tell everyone.

The past eight months has been a transition working part-time at LECOM. I am enjoying teaching the young medical students about disease processes and how to conduct a proper history and physical examination. I have been showing the students how to gown and glove properly to prepare them for the operating room. I can no longer depend on Julie to acquire a large double-double from Tim Horton during lunch. I will have to fetch that myself. Likewise, I no longer have Nicole grab me lunch from WCA’s cafeteria so I can eat in-between OR cases. I have to get that myself as well. I guess I was really spoiled.

I can only say how grateful I have been to let me be your doctor and friend. I would tell my patients in the examining rooms that our lives are composed of many days. Each day is composed of many moments and interactions. Hopefully, we have utilized each moment productively and have had as few regrets as possible. We cannot change yesterday and must live in the present. Our lives intersected and I was able to help them in their time of need. Rest assured my patients impacted my life as well and I will never forget them.