Please forgive me if I am bragging, but I was the youngest board-certified orthopedic surgeon in America when I was 27. Now, I am almost 70, still working, and one of the oldest orthopedists in the country.
Sure, I have cut down from 50 hours per week to 15 hours, and instead of 100 patients per week, I see 20 patients and perform five surgeries instead of 15.
However, I still get pleasure from helping my patients, and you can say I’m two-thirds retired.
I frequently have been asked two questions:
1) Are you retired?
2) When are you going to retire?
I am a little offended by the first question, since it implies that I am old.
Although I am 69, I am still very active. I play tennis twice a week, take spin classes, bicycle ride for hours with the Long Island Bicycle Club, and jog several times a week.
However, I don’t play golf like many of my colleagues. It is just too slow-moving for me.
Regarding question No. 2: I just can’t answer it.
When I was age 14, I had surgery on my knee performed by an 84-year-old orthopedic surgeon. My mother was so impressed with his longevity that she strongly suggested I go into this field. This is the one time I actually listened to my mother.
If you think I am still working so that I can increase my wealth, you are very wrong. The work I do outside my practice has been influenced by two famous Americans.
There are variations of a quote by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, but it is reported that as a young man, he set a goal for himself to spend the first half of his life making money and the second half giving it all away.
And the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ ”
Taking their words to heart, I searched for a charity that reflected a philosophy I tried to instill in my children: Try to make the world a better place.
Based on that principle, I created a private foundation that gives money to individuals and organizations in this country that promote peace between ethnic groups, religions and countries through education and the arts, and by directly feeding and caring for the hungry and poor.
I donate much of my income to this foundation, which I created as an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, since many believe it has become quite politicized and is limited in its scope.
With my extra time, I wanted to find a way to help my patients treat their painful conditions but avoid the complications of drugs and pills, which can be addictive. After thorough research, I developed a pain-relief cream that avoids the side effects of pain pills. To complement the pain-relief cream, I also published a pain-relief guide for baby boomers. The book combines the science of mainstream medicine with holistic alternative cures for all types of pain that baby boomers frequently experience.
Aside from my profession as a surgeon, I also keep very busy with my lifelong passion: collecting art. As a member of the board of the Nassau County Museum of Art in Roslyn Harbor, I help bring the works of great artists such as Marc Chagall, Peter Max and Ansel Adams to the Long Island community.
At present, the museum is showing “The Halston Style,” which will be on exhibit through July 8. It is the first exhibition in the United States by this great designer in decades.
I know I can continue my passion even when I am ready for the “old-age home.”
As a senior you can do important things to help people in need and make the world a better place. That is my goal.
READY OR NOT Is the retirement clock ticking? Are you on the brink of calling it a career and spending more time waking up late, eating a leisurely breakfast, meeting friends for lunch, playing more golf, catching up with the grandkids?
Have you quit your full-time job to be a full-time caretaker for your parents, or baby sitter for your grandchildren? And if so, are your new responsibilities more challenging than you expected?
Or is your current job too enjoyable to leave? Are your retirement funds too low to go? Maybe the thought of not clocking in after years on the job is intimidating. Maybe work is where you have friends and a guaranteed social life.
Are you staying put or putting in your papers? If you’ve already retired, how’s it going? What are you doing to keep busy? Share your thoughts for possible publication. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Act 2 Editor, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747. Include your name, address, phone numbers and a picture, if available.