Mike Kuna, Revised Version b
I write this at 5:44 AM on Monday morning, November 20, 2017. A significant date, both typical and also unique.
The typical aspect of November 20, 2017, is that it is the Monday before Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. The weekend was spent with a little extra cleaning, as guests are coming Wednesday evening. We raked leaves, although that job always seems futile. I did my usual Thanksgiving walk-around, replacing burnt out light bulbs. My wife Julie made sure that there was extra toilet paper in the bathrooms. I dusted the tops of the picture frames and started the heater in our sunroom. It will take a couple days for the room to heat up and we will need all of the space possible as over 20 people will be with us for a couple of days.
Julie and I went to Gordon’s, a restaurant supply store, to start the purchasing process. A big turkey and a boneless Turkey breast for Thanksgiving Thursday, a giant bag of frozen stuffed pasta shells for Black Friday dinner. First store, several hundred dollars down… more shopping to come. My main concern is will the rock-hard frozen turkey thaw in time for Thursday? Let’s hope, otherwise, we will be serving beans and franks to our guests.
The unique aspect of November 20, 2017, is that this Monday marks the one month date for the end of my private practice. Everyone said that the last year would go fast. Time seemed to move at a glacial speed in January. Now, time is moving at light speed.
Patients who I haven’t seen for several years are calling trying to set up appointments with me. Their cases are closed and they need to be referred on, there are no more appointment slots left on my schedule.
I spent the last year worrying about the impact of my leaving on patients, some who I have known for decades. I neglected the impact that leaving would have on me. Imagine yourself as a trusted friend/counselor who knows someone for 10 to 30 years. You are told things that no one else knows. You witness the other person’s triumphs and tragedies. At times you are given the privilege to watch them grow from acting-out teenagers to solid middle-aged adults. It is impossible not to develop a connection with them. I have always kept up my professional boundaries, but I will miss many of these individuals.
I am burdened by experiencing loss on a 30-minute appointment schedule. I get through one loss, in walks another and the process starts over again. I have to be the strong one, the one giving comfort and reassurance. That is my job.
Most patients want to know what I will do in my retirement. Over the last few months I have been a bit freer with my personal information. Anonymity no longer has the importance that it once did. Most people congratulate me, some offer me retirement advice, a few offer comments of comfort. They must be picking up some of my concealed stress.
Today I will see patients from 8 AM to 8 PM. That’s a lot of goodbyes. I’ll do it all over again tomorrow. Four more weeks, time to define Mike Kuna version b.