The dreadful, shocking news I received at the cardiologist’s office on Monday morning left me a sobbing mess for most of the day. As you may recall from my last post, I recently visited my Primary Care physician to get his take on the problems I experienced during a recent bike ride. After a thorough checkup, he referred me to the cardiologist, and stressed that I needed to set up a follow-up appointment to see him immediately after the referral visit. I remember thanking him and saying “good bye, see you again soon” and, at that moment, putting my finger on one of his attributes that I found so refreshingly quaint: he was dressed in one of those zip-off hiking pants/shorts and was wearing a casual polo shirt. I’ve seen plenty of pretentious doctors during my life; he was the first doctor who actually listened to me, who was humble almost to a fault. Thoughts of him stir visions of an old-fashioned doctor in a Normal Rockwell painting, although “youthful and in-touch” would represent his persona just as accurately. I would have never guessed that this “good-bye” would be the very last.
As I was checking into the cardiologist’s office, the office staff asked if I happened to have the written reports from the EKG that was performed a week ago in my Primary Care physician’s office. I had not gotten a copy of the report, and the staff indicated that his office was “closed today”, and it would just be easier “under the circumstances” to just repeat the EKG. There was a pregnant pause. The lady then asked “You don’t know, do you?” My puzzled look encouraged the explanation: “I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this sad news, but Dr. __ died last week.” Only after tears started to flow down my face did I notice that the staff members also had red, watery, puffy eyes. One of them came around into the lobby to give me a hug. We all had loved this man.
My wonderful doctor — the one who never rushed me during an appointment, who listened with ears and mind wide-open, whose sincere concern always made me feel as if I were the center of the Universe during the time I was in his office, the humble doctor whose gut instincts seem to keep telling him that I didn’t really have MS but who always was quick to point out that he was just a “mere family doctor” and that there were lots of conditions and diseases that he didn’t fully understand — died doing a recreational hobby he loved: rock climbing. Every Tuesday, he had made a habit of meeting friends and going rock-climbing in the Pinnacles National Park. The Pinnacles is a gorgeous place not too far from where we live, and a place in which StarMan and I have enjoyed some hikes, and where on a lucky day, one can catch a glimpse of the rare and highly endangered California condor. Something went terribly wrong last Tuesday, and he fell 30 feet off the rock face, and (by news accounts) died instantly.
News of his death, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, hit me really hard. He was almost like a family member. After 3 days, only now am I able to write/talk about him without getting choked up.
RIP, doctor. Your untimely departure has left a unfillable hole in our community. You made a difference in this world, though, and you lived life “big”, making the most of every moment, which are good reminders and lessons for us all. http://www.meaningfulfunerals.net/fh/obituaries/obituary.cfm?o_id=2608341&fh_id=10480