Could I even imagine doing anything else?

Published 6:55 am Friday, August 3, 2018

Many years ago, I thought I had the talent to become an NBA star, even though I knew I never had that much talent. Deep in my heart I knew I wanted to become a physician; a surgeon.

I could not then and shall not now ever consider doing anything else – even in these times when the “public” no longer thinks of us with reverence, or sometimes even with respect.

I tell my patients that the practice of medicine is not a science. Math is a science. One and one are always two. My practice of medicine is an art. It is based on science, but it is mixed in with decades of experience, some skill, and empathy for the people I serve.

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I have been lucky enough, and blessed enough to survive four years of college, four years of medical school, a year of internship, three years of surgical residency and two years in a urology fellowship, all to be allowed to practice urology and urological surgery.

The changes in medicine from a surgical standpoint in over three decades have been greater than putting a man on the moon. Every physician must constantly learn new things.

Doctors have seen dramatic changes and almost insurmountable threats in practice including a malpractice crisis, a steady decrease in payment/reimbursement, and the almost complete loss of autonomy.

After more than 30 years of private practice, I worked as an employee at several hospitals until I was fortunate enough to come to Harlan.

Nothing beats a long day in surgery and the satisfaction it brings to really help a patient. Nothing feels better than walking into the surgical waiting room and telling a spouse, a parent, or a family that everything went well.

The relief in their eyes is truly rewarding. For me, it beats hitting a three-pointer at the buzzer to win an NCAA championship.

And this goes on day after day, week after week, month after month. Every day brings a new adventure, a new anxiety, new drama and new joy. There is nothing like it. As Larry Kaiser said (and I am guilty here of paraphrasing an article he wrote in 2004) the great days far outweigh the bad.

As a sophomore at Temple University, I was approached by an elderly, raggedy-dressed man. He had no way of knowing that I was pre-med. I was wearing my Temple U basketball warmup jacket. He said, “You will become a great surgeon and save the world.” Then he shook my hand and walked away.

I was stunned. I truly believe that this was my fate being given to me. Unfortunately, I now know that I am not as intelligent as the scientists, inventors and physicists who can truly “do magic.”

But I have landed in Harlan – three years and two months ago – and I think I make a difference in helping thousands of patients. I try to treat everyone with humor, empathy, compassion and skill. I shall continue to serve you great people of Harlan and I thank all of you who trust me.

The good news is the answer to the question I posed at the start. I could not and would not ever consider doing anything else.

I would be remiss if I did not express my many heartfelt thanks also to Donnie Fields, my CEO, who, when hiring me said, “God opened the heavens and dropped Dr. Kilstein down.” Also I give many thanks to Joe Grossman, his CEO, who continues to allow me to serve you to the best of my abilities.

And, before I go, I will say “Go Big Blue” because this could be the year!

Seymour Kilstein, DO, is a urologist at the ARH Daniel Boone Clinic.