It was just a few days ago, Tuesday or Wednesday that Meta and I found out that our Psychiatrist had passed away the weekend before.
Meta was on the phone talking to someone about our Psych Prescriptions. I was only really listening out of the side of my ear, not paying particular attention. There wasn’t any change in the tone of Meta’s voice as far as my ear could consciously detect. New appointments were made for our case manager and so the conversation went. I was struggling with some piece of software or some other ridiculous bit of semi-make work in my hole that I commonly refer to as my cubby. I practically live in the place. That’s when she broke from her phone call for a minute stating to the person on the other side “Wait a minute I got to tell Iba.”
I didn’t give her the chance. I simply stated that “Doctor Lee is dead, Right?”
She wasn’t shocked or amazed as this type of response has happened before. There is a logic to it but I will spare you that. She quickly returned to her conversation.
Doctor Lee was our third personal headshrinker and practitioner of the mental health medical arts. My first Doc was one Dr. Funk. I know and I am not making it up. I don’t think I worked with her for a full year before she had moved on to a private practice. The second Doctor was one Dr. Zick for a little over two years. Then, after a long distance relocation, a new apartment and finally a new Doc, Dr. Lee. Dr. Lee was our longest, time wise, psychiatrist at a little over twenty three years.
Doctors Funk and Zick both worked at a mental health clinic in a college town that was at the center of an otherwise rural county. It was entirely funded by a small percentage added onto the local sales tax, if memory serves. Our appointments were frequent, sometimes twice a month and generally about a half an hour. That clinic didn’t have admitting privileges at any hospital so they dealt with everything that they could out patient. They also had a lower number of clients or consumers if you prefer.
Doctor Lee on the other hand worked in many clinics, all in the same system, over several counties in a far more urban area. He had admitting privileges at the Psych Ward of the local hospital as well as the Psych Wards at some of the larger hospitals in a very large near by City. This system was largely federally funded and, I think, served as a magnate for people needing treatment. Each appointment that either Meta or I had with Doctor Lee was about 15 minutes long, This is clinical work and many do not know that this is a clinical quarter hour so I actually spent about 7 minutes talking with the Doc which was fine by me.
For most of the time I have been seeing him, he had slightly over two thousand patients or clients under his supervision. Just a few years ago he reduced the number to about 800. I think I maybe have spent more actual time talking to him than doctor Funk but because it was spread out over all those years and in small doses it gave me time to acclimate. Meta explained to me that he had been practicing here since the early 80s. Not a glorious job or even a well respected position but he stayed at his post.
I had grown accustom to the fact that he would always be here. I wasn’t conscious of that fact until the other day. I fully expect that any morning that I awake my family, those few that remain, and close friends will all be dead and I am grateful when they are not. The thought as far as Doctor Lee was concerned never crossed my mind. I may have been able to get more out of, or put more into the relationship if such a thought had crossed my mind.
I will remember him.