Ten Month Countdown to Retirement

Starting this month, I’ve got a 10-month countdown to retirement. I was reminded of that when I got a brochure in the mail for the University of Wisconsin 7th Annual Update and Advances in Psychiatry. It’s scheduled for October 11-12, 2019 at the Monona Terrace, which is the usual location.

I’ve received these announcements in the mail every year for longer than 7 years. I’ve never had the time to make it to a single of these meetings. I’ve always been on duty. I’m not sure why they are advertising them as though they started only 7 years ago.

I can remember getting an announcement in 2009 in which the title of the update was Nontrivial Neuropsychiatric Nourishment from Noble Notable Nabobs. How’s that for a sense of humor? There were several like that prior to 2009 but I never kept the brochures. I haven’t seen any brochures like that for the last seven years.

I don’t know who came up with the humorous titles. I wonder if it was Dr. Jefferson. I noticed this year’s brochure had an In-Memoriam notice about James W. “Jeff” Jefferson, MD, who has been a luminary of psychiatry for decades. He was also a major presenter at these psychiatry advances meetings. He was active in psychiatry for over 50 years.

And me? I’m retiring after a much shorter career, by comparison. I’ve been running all over the hospital as a Consult-Liaison Psychiatrist during the busiest time in academic medical centers everywhere–July and the early part of August when senior medical students become full-fledged resident physicians. Newly-minted doctors tend to request many psychiatric consultations. On average I’m putting close to 4 miles and 30-odd floors on my step counter (with C-L psychiatrists, maybe it’s not the years but the miles that count—literally). I’ve not taken vacation during the past 2 years of my current phased retirement contract—and don’t plan one for this final year.

That reminds me of time in 2012 when my wife, Sena, and I went to Madison, Wisconsin on a vacation, the first in a long time. The residents were wondering when I was going to get away. Madison is a great place to visit and we lived there briefly when I took a stab at private practice.

We stayed at the Monona Terrace, which gives a great view of Lake Monona. We loved Olbrich Botanical Gardens. We rented a couple of bikes at Machinery Row Bicycles and rode all the way to Olbrich. The rental bikes were a far sight more affordable than a lot of the ones you could buy. Many were priced at several thousand dollars.

And I found an old copy of Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease at Browzers Bookshop on State Street. I used that book as a medical student. My class used the nearly 7 pound red 3rd edition containing 1,467 pages. This book is hailed as an outstanding foundational text, which it is. Dr Stanley Robbins has been eulogized as an exacting editor who championed writing of the type espoused by Will Strunk in The Elements of Style.

Not to be picky, but the book contained the phrase “not excessively rare” in reference to some process or disease which I can’t recall. I do recall that a majority of our class howled about this verbiage, which seemed the antithesis of what Strunk tried to teach.

You could see a lot of interesting sights on State Street. During a previous visit, we saw a guy walking down the middle of the street with a rattlesnake coiled on his head, wore it like a hat.

We had a lot of fun in Madison. It’s that kind of relaxed, good time that I want to retire to. Ten months to go.

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