• COVID-19
  • Biosimilars
  • Cataract Therapeutics
  • DME
  • Gene Therapy
  • Workplace
  • Ptosis
  • Optic Relief
  • Imaging
  • Geographic Atrophy
  • AMD
  • Presbyopia
  • Ocular Surface Disease
  • Practice Management
  • Pediatrics
  • Surgery
  • Therapeutics
  • Optometry
  • Retina
  • Cataract
  • Pharmacy
  • IOL
  • Dry Eye
  • Understanding Antibiotic Resistance
  • Refractive
  • Cornea
  • Glaucoma
  • OCT
  • Ocular Allergy
  • Clinical Diagnosis
  • Technology

Living forward: We still have to understand backward

Digital EditionOphthalmology Times: June 15, 2021
Volume 46
Issue 10

When I was a young assistant professor (yes, that was a long, long time ago!), I usually operated on Fridays and came in on Saturdays to see my postoperative patients and any patients with corneal ulcers or other problems needing close follow-up.

Often my 3 young children would play or crawl around on the floor of my office while I did my work.

Previously by Dr. McDonnell: Big Brother is watching: Technology is looking out for me

One day I was seeing one of my postoperative patients who was a very successful businessperson about the age I am now. He was the archetype of the high-powered CEO and a friend of the president of my university.

Happily, he had a perfect result, and after reviewing with him the postoperative medication regimen, I asked him if he had any questions.

“Yes,” he said, “do you always work on Saturdays?” I told him that I did.

“So, do you work 6 days a week?” he asked, and I confirmed this was the case—unless something urgent, like a perforated corneal ulcer, came in over the weekend requiring me to come in to glue a perforation or do surgery on Sunday.

“Would you mind if an old man offered you some advice?” he asked me. I encouraged him to share his thoughts.

“You have these 3 beautiful children,” he said. “They are young now, but they will grow up seemingly overnight and be gone. When I was young like you, I worked 6 or 7 days per week building my business and worried about making enough money to provide security for my family. As a result, I did not spend the time with my children that I now wish I had. Now they are grown, busy with their work and families, and do not have much time for me. Meanwhile, I am left with more money than I need. Maybe you could dial back on your career a bit.”

I thanked him for his advice, knowing it was motivated by the best of intentions. I remember thinking that I had heard this plenty of times from older men.

Related: Succession planning: Following an 'institution' can be tough

Little did these older folks appreciate the cost of living in Southern California or the rapidly increasing college tuition bills for the children of young parents like me.

Not to mention the fact that in academics, you either publish or perish and traveling to the major meetings is pretty much mandatory if you want to be taken seriously on the national or international stage.

“These older fellows do not understand the pressures on today’s young professionals who are parents,” I thought.

It has been 30 years, and I remember this conversation as if it were yesterday.

Yes, Southern California real estate was (and remains) very expensive, but every physician can afford a decent home. And yes, college and professional school tuitions are ridiculously expensive and continue to rise quickly.

Related: The value of a reputation: Mixing medicine, politics a bitter pill

But I and all my doctor friends have handled those bills as well, and today we all seem to have more funds than we really need.

And now my children—like those of my patient—are grown, busy, and living in other cities.

Because humans like me really do “live forward but [only come to] understand backwards,” today I believe my youth and inexperience prevented me from fully appreciating the wisdom in the words of the fathers who were a generation or two ahead of me.

Read more editorials

Related Videos
 John Bladen, MBBS, BSc, MRCS, PGCert, PhD, FRCOphth, consultant ophthalmologist and oculoplastic surgeon, King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK, speaks with Ophthalmology Times Europe's® Caroline Richards
rande, CFP, and John S. Grande, CFP, of Grande Financial Services, continue their discussion with Ophthalmology Times®' Sheryl Stevenson
What keeps you up at night?
S.K. Steven Houston III, MD, discusses retina innovations in use in his practice, including the NGENUITY 1.4 upgrade from Alcon
Caesar Luo, MD, shares his key take-aways on diabetic retinopathy progression in anti-VEGF versus FA implant
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.