Retirement

Joseph J Kozma

On the 31st of October I reached in my pocket, used my fingers for communication and told my office-keys that their main function, other than jingling, was finished. If they did not suspect, now were told officially that I finally retired. For a few days, until everything was given away, auctioned or securely transferred for safekeeping, they still would remain my guardians. I am sure they understood. They remained silent.

After 60 years of medical practice and now a few days in retirement I encountered many surprises. One was the frequent meeting of well-wishers. People I did not know or simply not recognize. A typical example was a young man, looked around 21 or so who, after wishing me good luck, wondered if I remembered him. Seeing that I hesitated, he told me his name and revealed that he was 12 when his mother “forced” him to see me.”Forced’ did not surprise me. Kids of that age don’t stand in line to see the doctor. No, I did not remember him; I only remembered his last name. The 10 years span was all I saw; not the size, not the facial features and certainly not the voice.

After the usual niceties, I wondered, would I recognize him 10 years from now? I was sure that I would. He was now in an age group whose physical characteristics don’t change much for years. (20-50) After 70 physical changes can be rapid and can match the changes seen in the teens. I encountered many well- wishers in that age group and had a problems recognizing them if I did not see them for a span like 20 years.

It is wonderful to see so many people not because of their illnesses and miseries but because of their humanity, close or distant friendship and their deep social commitment. I hear all kinds of questions such as will I travel, what I will do in my free time, will I keep writing, will I move etc.

I answer these questions as I can in a short fashion like “No I will not move. I will not be a “retirement migrant”. For me, Jacksonville has a past, a present and a future. Good, solid mixture. Very likely I will not travel unless I will need to collect material to write about. I will not be a perpetual tourist or “grey nomad”. Yes I will write. There is a great deal to communicate. Writing, poetry in particular, is a special form of communication. It can reach all levels of human endeavor and can speak beyond linguistics.

These are some of the things that greet me day after day in the very beginning of retirement. Curiously, nobody asked me why I am retiring from medical practice.OK, they say, 60, why not 65?

First I have gone 25years beyond retirement age, helped society, helped my profession and paid taxes,

That should be enough. The second reason is more important. It can be called “comfort”. I am very uncomfortable in the “health environment” that is created by the government, the legislators, hospitals, drug companies, insurance companies and innumerable agencies known and never heard of. I am not alone feeling that lack of comfort. Over the past 3-4 years great number of patients “unloaded” their discomfort on me and on my office.

In progression of time, among changes in societal structures, medicine will change as well. It is inevitable. As citizens are adjusting to the changes of environment, war and peace, reason and insanity, they will adjust as they see the patient-doctor relationship slide into system-patient relationship. Changes like what we see now usually last 25years under political stability. Under the unstable conditions of today a change may occur sooner.

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