If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

We saw this rabbit in our front yard today, stretched out on the grass under our crabapple tree. It’s 117 degrees this afternoon with the heat index and we won’t get out from under the Excessive Heat Warning until later this evening. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Rabbits don’t have air conditioning and can’t escape the heat.

Sena stands the heat better than I do; she waters the lawn and garden, keeping it beautiful. On the other hand, I felt body-slammed just walking out to get the mail.

Out in Sena’s garden

The old saying goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” It means you if you can’t take the pressure of a situation, then you should move and let somebody else take over. It was popularized by President Harry S. Truman, who said the originator of the proverb was Judge Buck Purcell of the Jackson County, Missouri Court—whoever he was.

Anyway, I’m on call this weekend and got to talking with a colleague who is thinking about retirement. We go back a long way in our education and careers. He asked me about what phased retirement is like. I told him I thought if I’d tried to retire outright, I probably would have just come back to work.

That’s a twist on standing the heat. As a psychiatric consultant, I’m like a fireman (get it?) in the general hospital, putting out fires, so to speak, all over the hospital. Most often the problem still tends to be delirium, an acute change in mental status that should be considered a medical emergency rather than a psychiatric problem per se. It’s just one of many crises that I encounter every day. Over 23 years (not counting residency), I learned how to stand the heat in that kitchen. When I retire, somebody else will have to get in there and cook. Speaking of cooking—I still can’t.

I guess I’m mixing my metaphors (fireman and kitchens, etc.). So what? I’m a retiring geezer and I guess I’ve earned the right to mix my metaphors as much as I want.

But in my first year of the 3-year phased retirement contract, I felt a different kind of heat–the heat of trying to find something to do with my unstructured time. It was a struggle for a guy who’s accustomed to being in almost constant motion, climbing up and down 20-30 floors (I hate waiting for elevators) and covering 2-3 miles a day.

The only trouble is—I can’t get out of the kitchen of retirement. I’m getting up there in age and even though most of the time, I seem to leave some of the trainees huffing and puffing getting up the stairs, I know they’ll replace me someday. But I can’t find a replacement to do my retirement time for me.

I have 11 months to go before I retire. I can feel the heat.

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