This week I will walk through the doors of Sutter Health in Auburn for a meet and greet of sorts with my (possibly) new gynecologist. This is not an exam, just an appointment to meet the doctor. You see, my ob-gyn, Dr. Jordan Horowitz, retired last month, and I have the task of finding a new doctor who will need to fill some pretty big shoes.
I met Jordan when I was close to 30. And I mean no disrespect when I refer to him in this blog as Jordan, instead of Dr. Horowitz. It’s the only name I ever called him. Such a delightful, comfortable man to be around, a doctor who didn’t require any pomp and circumstance. He was just there to do his job, and he did it with humor and kindness and a genuine interest in his patients.
I met Jordan at the time I was trying to conceive my first child. It was taking longer than usual. I hadn’t exactly rushed into starting a family. I was 30, and perhaps my body was taking a stand since I had kept it waiting. I was referred to Jordan for a consultation. I liked him instantly and felt safe in his care, and also probably, more importantly, he left me optimistic that we would overcome whatever the obstacles were. He had a way of helping his patients look for the positive. Leaving his office after the first visit, I didn’t know when or how, but I knew with Jordan’s help, we would prevail.
I did become pregnant and welcomed my Amy girl into the world a few years later. I would become pregnant a second time, but would have to end that pregnancy in Jordan’s office early on. I had what is known as a blighted ovum, which means a fertilized egg attaches itself to the uterine wall, but the embryo does not develop. Jordan had the unfortunate task of informing me that my second pregnancy would need to be aborted. I remember in bits and pieces the day I had to go in for the DNC, but mostly I remember feeling cared for by him and his staff and my family. It wasn’t even two months later that I conceived again with my boy, Jordan, and Jordan Horowitz would again deliver my child. How blessed I was in all respects. I didn’t name my son Jordan in honor of the doc, it was more that I liked the name, but Jordan Horowitz definitely lent a good feeling to the name.
Over the many years since, I’ve had a few breast lumps, which turned out to be nothing, thank God. But still, no one wants to hear their doctor telling them he just found a lump. Jordan both times did it with such grace, and all the while instilling confidence in me that all would be well. And it was.
I only saw this man once a year, typically, but he was always someone I could confide in about the crucial things that I needed help on. I hate going to the doctors. But with Jordan, even being poked and probed in the most vulnerable of places fell into the background. It was just a necessity of staying well, and the day ended up feeling more like I had caught up with an old friend. Of course, he would always ask about Amy and Jordan, and what they were up to. I would volunteer all the latest info, and then he would offer up what his children were busy with. Year after year, our stories continued, and happily our children thrived, as did we.
Thirty-five years later… my last visit was in May of 2019. I knew he was nearing retirement. We chatted about when he might leave, he still wasn’t sure. It was on the horizon, but he hadn’t decided yet. I told him I would be making the trek down to San Francisco until he wasn’t there anymore. We laughed, but we also spoke about how special it was to have had such a long-standing relationship. In this world that we find ourselves in so many years later, the concept of a doctor-patient connection that stands the test of time in a throw-away society is pretty special and unique.
Nearing the end of the year, standing in my kitchen opening the mail at the end of a long day, holding an envelope from Sutter Health, I slid my fingers beneath the flap. Even before I could pull out the letter, I already knew what I would be reading. The tears were streaming down my cheeks by the first word of the first sentence, “I.” A personal letter from Sutter Health would undoubtedly be written by Jordan, announcing his retirement. I saw 35 years pass in an instant… my babies, my fears, my sorrows, my triumphs, my losses, and all those tests that, for the most part, came back with good news. I spent the following weeks letting go to allow for a new beginning. I am happy for Jordan to begin a new chapter and content to not be traveling all the way to San Francisco for my doc visit, but letting go feels a bit like I am relinquishing my youth, even though that left the building some years ago. The tears are never too far away when I think about these days of change. I’m not fond of change on a good day, but especially when I’m leaving someone or something I’ve really enjoyed. I want to hold on and never let go.
In recent weeks, as I’ve let the sadness wash over me from time to time, I’ve come to understand that these memories will never fade away. The days of my babies and my youth will always be the sweetest days I’ve known. And Dr. Jordan Horowitz will have played such a special part in it.
I wish for Jordan everything that he gave to me and I’m sure the thousands of women he worked with through the years. If he receives even a fraction of what he gave, he will enjoy his retirement years.
And Wednesday, I will meet a possible candidate to replace Jordan. As I said in the beginning of this post, whoever I choose has some big shoes to fill. But I’ve been doing my research, and this doctor sounds young and funny and specializes in menopausal women, that’s a plus. I’m sure I will walk in with a lump in my throat.
Endings, beginnings, and faith in the universe that has treated me so well up until now… wishing me and the new doc luck. And wishing blessings to Jordan Horowitz in his new life.
And lastly, coincidentally on this day my dear friend’s daughter Caitlin is in labor. Wishing a speedy delivery and a healthy son.