As my working life here in Wenatchee comes to a close, I feel compelled to return some of the good wishes and thanks that I have received in recent weeks.
A few days ago, my nurse put a “You Rock” sign on my work station. To it, I added: “That’s what Charlotte always said. I am just the pig …” Truth be told, it is all the “Charlottes” in this town who have helped me weave a web of care.
There are too many to name here but you know who you are.
First, thank you to the original visionaries, the past and present administrations and the members of the hospital boards who had the wisdom to give us thoughtful support instead of micromanagement, to let us do what we “knew best how to do.”
I also want to thank the fine specialists of Wenatchee Valley Medical Center who gave cutting edge and attentive care to my patients over the years. I wouldn’t have come to this community without knowing that my patients would receive the best consultation and surgical care — and I have not been disappointed.
And to my Central Washington Hospital and Wenatchee Valley Medical Center fellows in family and internal medicine, thank you for helping change the face of primary care in Wenatchee. When I came to town, a stunning proportion of people did not know who their family physician was. That has all changed. Your leadership and commitment to personal care has created an engine of healing in this community that will continue.
I also cannot thank my own staff enough. My office nurses and medical assistants, the many hospital staff and nurses, the receptionists, the lab and radiology people, the tech support, the financial managers, even the housekeepers who kept me company in the late hours, all combined to make my work possible. You have been my eyes, my ears, my hands and most of all, the expression of my care that our patients encounter. They come to us in fear and pain and you have all helped make them better.
My final and special thanks is to my patients and the community of people here in Wenatchee. I deeply appreciate your trust and willingness the share the best and the worst times of your lives with me, the celebrations of new lives, the passing of lives well lived, the fears of infirmity and the courage to overcome the frailty of the body and spirit. Looking back, I see that a medical degree is just an elaborate excuse to be a part of these moments. I have received immeasurably more than I have given.
And most of all, thank you for helping me raise two fine young sons.
Thank you for helping me write and listening to my stories.
Thank you for going fishing with me.
Thank you for taking care of my mother in her last days, for helping me build my faith in the face of personal tragedy.
Thank you for letting me be human sometimes.
So I leave Wenatchee with a heavy heart, not a heart heavy with sadness, but rather one filled with the memories of this place and its people. I am still just the pig — but I leave a happy and thankful pig.
Steven Aguilu is a physician at Central Washington Hospital and is an active fly fisherman and a member of Write on the River. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org