After a slightly extended stay at Temple University, I attended the Philadelphia College of “Osteopathic” Medicine. Some years later I had the opportunity to express my opinion in a letter to the editor in JAMA, that the continued separation of “osteopathic” medical institutions and organizations from the mainstream of those using the MD degree was a political, not scientific issue. Ignoring that “osteopathic” designation, I did my post doctoral training at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, first a year in general surgery and then a three year residency in Diagnostic Radiology. I didn’t get that far from Central High.
During my stay at Einstein, I married Ellen Singer, who had graduated from Girls High and had gone on to Case Western for a degree in nursing. She had stayed in Cleveland, working in the burn unit at the Metropolitan Hospital. We joke about our arranged marriage. Our parents had actually double dated before they were married. When I told my mother that I had a six week medical school clinical rotation at The Cleveland Clinic, she set me up with the daughter of very old friends. With our marriage approaching, Ellen moved back to Philadelphia and got a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Our honeymoon was a week aboard a 37 foot sloop (we “bare-boated” with no crew but us) in the British Virgin Islands.
I wrote an article while at Einstein that was accepted for publication by JAMA, and had an offer of an academic position at Jefferson. However, I wanted a different life style, off of the east coast and away from the pressures of academia. Ellen and I moved to Fort Wayne, IN in 1980 and are still here thirty years later. I am up for parole soon.
Life took a turn for the better AND worse with the birth of our son Matt in 1981. He was born with congenital limb defects that changed our lives deeply, but not nearly as much as his intelligence and goodness has enriched our lives. From his first day, he was wide-eyed and responsive. I could go on and on about the evidence of his intelligence when he was young, but I do have some compassion for anyone reading this.
When Matt starting walking, he needed the aid of a walker (festooned with bells, horns, lights and a battery powered laser blaster) in addition to his leg braces. His unsteady ankles (no fibulas) were one of the major problems. However, when he was no more than about 5, we discovered a solution to his ankle instability: ski boots. He literally could ski better than he could walk. Thirty surgeries or so later and he no longer needs braces or a walker. When the snow is good, he can ski difficult black diamond runs with me in Big Sky Montana, where we have a home. If any of you reading this are fans of science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, the engraving on Matt’s new skis is “Deliverator.”
In 1985, our daughter Jackie was born. In the private school the kids attended, she was often in the academic shadow cast by her brother and sometimes getting short-changed in the parental attention department when Matt was undergoing yet another surgery. I don’t think that she was upset when Matt dropped out of school after tenth grade. Jackie proved her academic worth with acceptances to several excellent schools and attended Wellesley. She majored in Cognitive Science. If anyone reading this knows what that is, please let me know. Jackie went on to get a master’s degree in Human Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon. I am sure that many of you know about the famous “last lecture” by Randy Pausch. Jackie was attending that lecture. She is now doing computer consulting work, and is engaged to be married. She and her Matt (pain in the butt that we have two Matts, but this one refused to change his name) just bought a home in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland.
Now back to our Matt. He dropped out of school after tenth grade to go to college. He attended what has been, for nearly a half century, the nation’s only “early college,” Simon’s Rock, which is part of Bard College. After two years there, he was accepted for transfer as a college junior to Stanford, MIT, and Brown. I have always wanted the bumper sticker “My kid turned down Stanford and MIT.”
Matt majored in mathematics and french literature. At graduation, he won top honors from the french literature department and won the top prize for music composition from the music department, pissing off a bunch of music majors. He then spent a year doing volunteer work with AmeriCorps, followed by a position as a New York City Teaching Fellow. He taught in one of the worst high schools in the Bronx, while earning a master’s degree in math education. He is now teaching in a private Jewish high school on the west side of Manhattan. He will soon receive a master’s degree in music composition. As I write this, we are looking forward to a concert of his music, including a new saxophone sonata, to be performed at Hunter College next month. Guess who is paying for the professional musicians? I also tell people that I am going to be standing on Times Square offering $20 to anyone who will attend the concert.
When not being the Dad, I have done a little work as a diagnostic radiologist in private practice, and have tried to enjoy the outdoors. For a long while our “lake cottage” was a sailboat in Lake Michigan. Our last boat was a a 42’ french-built sloop called the “Carpe Diem.” Every once in a while the kids tell me that they miss the boat. As a family, we logged about 4,000 nautical miles around Lake Michigan. The kids have been at the helm while we sailed under the Mackinac Bridge. The boat was sold when Matt began several years of major reconstructive surgery that involved us having an apartment in Baltimore.
Ellen and I celebrated my 50th at 19,341’, after six and a half days of uphill work, followed by a day and half to come down. Worth every step! I haven’t had total good luck with the old machinery: five spinal surgeries and a shiny new hip. But I keep going and did ski about 35 days this past season I still ski the bumps and the deep and steep stuff, and I am sure to have voided the warranty on the hip. The Montana thing has become important to us: after the kids were gone, we downsized in Fort Wayne and put an addition onto the house in Big Sky. I don’t know how many might read this, but if you would like to visit Big Sky, we have no indoor plumbing, heat the house with the candles that we read by, and eat nothing but berries and bark. To get to our house means going through miles of snow drifts and you might not get out until the snow melts in June. Actually, May is a good month for a visit, when we go into Yellowstone when the bison are calving. We go into Yellowstone about 6 times a year, and have gone twice up to Glacier NP.
This past September, to celebrate my 60th, Ellen and I hiked up to the highest point in the UK, the summit of Ben Nevis, two days before I gave lecture at the Medical School of the University of Glasgow. At 4409’ this was not quite the summit of Kilimanjaro. I suppose for my 70th I might be down to a hike around an indoor shopping center. And for my 80th, I might be happy to reach the refrigerator on foot.
For twenty years, I have been lecturing in radiology and anatomy at the Indiana University School of Medicine - Fort Wayne. For three years I served as course director for the second year Introduction to Clinical Medicine. I was lead author of “Netter’s Concise Radiologic Anatomy” that was published in 2008. It is now being translated into its seventh language, Mandarin. This spring, our second book will be published, “Medical Imaging of Normal and Pathologic Anatomy.” I’ve had several other publications along the way, but still consider myself basically a private practice general radiologist.
Retirement is on my mind lately, but financial reality interferes. However, if a very old friend from Philadelphia, now in Durango, ever pays me back, and if my mother-in-law is not immortal…