It’s 2013. And I just left a six-figure corporate job to go to medical school.
At age 43.
As a single Dad.
With two kids. (Gulp!)
I know. I can see the look on your face.
Why would anyone do THAT?!
The short answer? To help you.
The longer answer? I was not myself anymore. I had stressed myself sick. And I started to see patterns. Maybe you recognize them:
First, people around me at work got sick.
One at a time. Not colds. Or seasonal allergies. More like: where’s so-and-so? Out. On disability. And then being somewhat shocked: Rare blood disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis. M.S. They think…cancer.
- Or….Did you hear? They wheeled him out of the meeting yesterday — heart attack. Panic attacks. Gall stone attacks. She fainted in the hallway — poor thing.
- Or….The everyday over-the-transom, grin-and-bear-it, hushed-tones, near-brags of new diagnoses: They said I’ve got irritable bowel…the diabeets….they found a lump….exploratory surgery.
- Or….The odd silent judgments in your head: How did he get so fat all of a sudden? Is that weird mole cancer?
- Or….They simply died.
Second, I started to meet people who were “living the dream”.
They were lit up by their work and their lives. These weren’t “ignorance is bliss” types. They were intelligent. Fun. And truly doing what they loved. Helping others. Really into it.
It was like when someone says, “Have you seen the new Honda?” and you start to see all the new Hondas on the road. I started to see “living the dreamers” everywhere.
But I wasn’t. And deep down I knew it for a very long time. It haunted me. Pretty much daily.
Pattern #3: Really good people were getting laid off in their 50s.
Matter-of-factly set adrift and forced to start over at a time when they should be winding down. Replaced by kids half their age and at one-third of their salary. Or not at all: their “position” was eliminated. Just like that. Dependability becoming expendability. Responsibilities becoming liabilities.
Now, I don’t think you should compare yourself to others. On the other hand, if you don’t think you’re the sucker at the table then the sucker is you. I took stock:
I had a 20-year career of increasingly important but less cool jobs I excelled at but never really liked.
I had a near-useless MBA that killed my marriage.
My non-smoker dad made it from dirt poor to corporate CEO then died too early of lung cancer — diagnosed just a year into retirement.
And for almost three years, I walked around with a burning gut and suffered from doctors without answers. When a naturopath figured this out right away — Celiac disease — I found a cure — and a calling.
Natural functional medicine not only healed me, I thrived. My journey and recommendations inspired a few others at work to change their lives. This gave me a lot of joy. And when I thought about it, I needed to be in the joy business for the rest of my life. Serving others, always needed, never laid off. Doing something bigger than myself and more meaningful than creating and explaining corporate nonsense for a deaf public.
I had the passion.I knew consulting. Problem was: I didn’t know medicine.
Solution: I did my homework. I talked to physicians. I found a coach. I created a plan. I saved a little money.
I was fired-up to do it. So I made the million dollar leap. That’s the cost to me in lost wages and new school debt over five years. A million bucks.
I haven’t missed it. And won’t. It’s been an incredible journey so far — and I’ve still got two years left.
Med school at 47 is daily challenge. But one that I love. And when it gets hard, I focus on the future. I think about you — the silent sufferers in gray cubicles. Maxed with stress. Knowing something is off about your health and well-being. Knowing it doesn’t have to be that way. Knowing that I’ve got the solution.
Naturopathic medicine is the next wave of primary care in America and I am thrilled every day to be in the lineup.
For once I am living the dream. And I can’t wait to share it with you.