Thankful to live my dream with you

I am sure you have heard the news by now. Much thought, perhaps speculation, that the announcement would be as had been anticipated.

Yes, you know what I am referring to.

Our CEO’s smoothie recipe.

No, wait, that was for another post.

My retirement notice.

The range in responses to this notice has been extraordinarily interesting. Many, heartfelt and beautiful, as much for Henry Ford as for me. Reflections and reminiscences. It certainly is gratifying to hear from many of you about this journey, our journey, especially the last seven years.

Some expressed disbelief, assuming there must be other undisclosed factors that have led to my decision, either personal or professional. Everyone starts to become an investigative reporter or a conspiracy theorist.

Trust me there are no Roswell green aliens hiding in this decision.

Most of you will also face this type of decision in the future. Many of you have talked to me about this, the push and pull of retirement versus loving what you do, sometimes, needing to do what you do.

I can only say that it is time. I feel a bit like when I used to listen to my Mom baking in our kitchen, without a timer. “When do you know the cake is done, Mom?” “You just know.”

Mom, you were right. You just know.

I realize some cling to their positions, holding off retirement for a variety of reasons. These are all personal and unquestionable in most instances. Each of us sense when we are at the top of our game. If we are very self-aware, each of us knows when the drive, motivation or intangibles start to erode our ability to stay at this level, the level we expect to perform.

Nicklas Lidstrom, the greatest Red Wing of his era, had it right. “Retiring today allows me to walk away with pride, rather than have the game walk away from me,” he said. Leaving the game before it leaves you.

I cannot thank my good fortune and each of you enough for offering me this incredible professional home, our professional home. Given the range of roles that I have been in, it is hard to pinpoint one group, one activity, or one span of time that is representative of this. So I will come to what is the greatest fortune that I have had professionally.

Becoming a physician was the dream of my life. Ask the few who knew me at 10 and see what they would say. To have had the honor and bestowed the enormous faith of others in becoming a physician was the dream. Not because this is the end all, be all, of professional life, even within a health care setting. It was certainly my tabula rasa. It created much of how I thought and established the fundamental importance, even sacredness, of how I approached all else in my career. Pellegrino and Thomasa termed it, “For the Patient’s Good.” The primacy of benefiting patients, the lens by which all other professional activities would be viewed.

When I failed, I did not pay heed to this ultimate primacy. But when I succeeded, when you all succeeded, it was because of that view, that filter, that philosophy.

It is about the patients. And when it is about the patients, it is about the doctors. And the nurses and the care providers. And the support needed to support patients. All working together for one common purpose.

I have said that one thousand years ago, a picture of health care would haves shown a patient at the center, a care provider who knew how to heal or restore to health at their side, and a support person, caring and compassionate, possibly family and others to create the environment of healing. One thousand years from now, it will be the same.

To have been a part of this trinity of healing is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

I remember the comment of Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham in the movie, Field of Dreams. The small town doctor, walking the streets of his hometown at the end of his career, the end of his life. He had once been a professional baseball player who played only one inning of one game in the majors. Ray Kinsella offered the comment that it was a tragedy for the ball player to never have the opportunity to bat in the majors, to have gotten so close but to never have lived his dream. “No,” said Dr. Graham, “If I’d only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes…now that would have been a tragedy.”

Our dreams often “brush past you like a stranger in the crowd.” Mine did not. I lived mine.

Don’t let yours brush by you.

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16 thoughts on “Thankful to live my dream with you

  1. Thank you for your thoughts. I thought about this and have come to same conclusion. Retirement will open new roads that need to be completed to fulfill my destiny.

  2. Dr. P………………
    Now that you’re winding up your doctor-gig, may I suggest a new one: writer.
    Clearly, you have a gift for writing. Your retirement letter was as good, as heartfelt, as soundly written as any I’ve ever seen — and I’ve seen a lot! You have a way of expressing yourself in a clear, concise and compassionate manner. Like I say, a gift. Think about it.
    Congratulations on your pending retirement. May God bless your future as abundantly as He’s blessed your extraordinary career.

  3. “You just know” and “leaving the game before it leaves you” — sums it up perfectly! (I have to remember this!) Best wishes on a well-deserved and new life chapter.

  4. I am filled with pride as I congratulate you on all you’ve accomplished. The friends you’ve made over the years….professionally and otherwise. The positivity displayed whenever your name came up in conversations leaves me wishing I had worked more closely with you and your team. This next venture will be just as great, ENJOY !!!

  5. Thank you Debbie. I am favoring the thought that listening to the thoughts of my mother and Nick Lidstrom seems to be pretty wise!

  6. Thank you Karen. Your last three words says a great deal for all of us regardless of what phase of life we are in. Maybe restated, “Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.”

  7. Dear Dr. Popovich: Love the statement “Leave the game before it leaves you” It was a privilege and pleasure working with you when you were the MICU medical director. In those days CICU/MICU RN’s were cross-trained to work both. Many CICU RN’s did not like to get pulled to the MICU, but I never minded when you were rounding. Your beside manner was 2nd to none. It was always a pleasure working with you. Sincerely Julianne Longlade

  8. Dr. Popovich- I am in IP- I never got to personally meet you but your reputation has followed you everywhere. I have heard nothing but great things about you in this department and I applaud you taking the time to start your new journey in life. Some wait too long to do that. Best wishes.

  9. Dr. P, I will be forever grateful for your ability to heal. 20 years ago my mom was on a ventilator in a local hospital. The pulmonologists had tried for two days to remove the vent without success. My brother Tom, a quadriplegic as the result of a gunshot wound he suffered in Vietnam, was traveling from Florida to see her. He was her favorite and I knew how upset they both would be if she were still on the vent when he arrived. I called you and asked if there was art to the weaning process. You called her doctor and within the hour she was off the ventilator. You gave me your beeper number and told me to page you if I thought she needed to be transferred to HFH – despite the fact it was two days before Christmas. Your kindness and compassion will be forever remembered by my family and me. All the best as you embark on your new adventures.

  10. Thank you, Sharon and Julianne. Our nursing staff then and now is truly second to none.

  11. To all others who have sent me private emails, thank you for kind words.

    At this time, talk of retirement will be set aside until next year. We still have 10 months of work to do before that!

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