“Doc, I think it is time for you to call it quits.”
“What?” He was almost shouting.
“It’s time you called it quits,” I raised my voice louder.
“You mean stop practicing?” He leaned forward, turning his good ear toward me.
“Look, I’m fine…” He leaned back against the chair.
“No, you’re not. Your neuropsych testing shows moderate cognitive impairment and you are nearing stone deaf.”
“I haven’t hurt anyone.”
“Yet. That you know of.”
The color left his face.
He stared at me, arms crossed over his chest, holding tight as if to prevent his insides from spilling out onto the floor between us.
He was considering.
He took a long, deliberate breath then nodded his head slowly, acquiescing. I was relieved. I did not want to have to involve the state medical board. Nasty business. My hands were shaking.
“I have spent my whole life pouring myself into this profession. All of the sacrifices I have made… It becomes your singular identity, you know. There is nothing left of me without the practice of medicine. It’s very hard to let it go.”
I murmured an understanding mumble that I was certain he could not hear and shook his hand.
He shrugged sadly, then shuffled out of my office.
Three months later he was dead.