For more than 40 years, I practiced maxillofacial surgery in a busy town in the southern part of Maine. I enjoyed my practice and serving thousands of patients, but there was still something missing under that enjoyment. I then became a seeker, exploring various ways to fill that emptiness and finding none within the profession I chose.
Shortly after beginning my solo practice, my quest to find that missing piece became more intense. Outwardly, I appeared as a caring physician while internally, I struggled to try to understand what was missing in my life. I married an amazing woman, was the father of two sons who grew to be impressive young men, and a created a surgical practice whose aim was to serve other people with the gifts given to me. I received accolades from everyone I served and settled into what some would call an "ideal life."
Many of you reading this essay may wonder what was wrong with this picture. Some of you may even identify with the process and direction my life was leading. However, you might also be surprised at the direction my life has taken. The ideal life came to an abrupt halt in 2002 when I began to show symptoms of an unknown neurological disease.
For several years before 2002, I noticed a slight tremor in my hands as well as increasing muscular pain in all muscles at different times during the day. From an external viewpoint, my surgery was impeccable, and my life appeared normal. However, in 2002, I found it necessary to stop my surgical practice before physical symptoms began to show in my work.
Have you ever wondered how your life would change if one day you were on top of the world and the next day you lost everything. On that fateful day, I found myself in a new place. I was no longer a surgeon but was a person who the night before walked out the front door of his office and closed the door behind him for the last time. My life at that point was over, or was it?
The next day, I entered a new world. I was no longer the person I was the day before but desperately needed to find the person I was today. For the first time, the emptiness I felt for years was now staring directly at me. Nothing I knew prepared me for that emptiness to open wide. It was then that I realized all the years of seeking, obtaining knowledge, and using that knowledge in my practice had given me a solid rock, which I could use to create a new life.