BLOGGERS: MARK SCHOLZ, MD & RALPH H. BLUM

The co-authors of Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers, blog alternate posts weekly. We invite you to post your comments.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Midlife Crisis Avoided

BY MARK SCHOLZ, MD

Building up a medical practice and getting a late start with a family, my midlife crisis was delayed past the usual occurrence for men in their early 40s.  However, by the time I hit 50, self-questioning was starting to surface. My life had meaningful pursuits but it was time to take a deep breath and do the traditional life inventory of the “mid-years,” to reassess my goals for the last third of my existence here on planet earth.

After reflection, I realized that I really didn’t have any great ideas to reinvigorate my passion for the last lap. I couldn’t sell my wife on the idea of buying a Lamborghini (I already owned a small boat).  I didn’t have any specific desire to travel.  I had given up on golf due to a terrible and uncorrectable slice.  I have never been successful playing the stock market.  All these considerations were going through my head about ten years ago.  Now ten years later, I turned 60 and I feel revitalized and reinvigorated.  So what turned things around?  

Many of you have come to know Ralph, my coauthor in the Snatchers Blog. He is as a sensible dispenser of advice and knowledge about life and about prostate cancer.  I first met Ralph almost fifteen years ago, first as a patient, subsequently as a writing teacher and now as a writing partner. As I reflect back over the years that we have worked together I am convinced that its Ralph who spared me from my mid-life crisis.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a lovely family.  My wife Juliet is a bulwark of truth.  My children are delightfully sensible, talented and hard-working. I am also blessed with an amazing medical practice with wonderful coworkers and extra-special patients.

Even so, visiting with a dozen men a day, five days a week, year after year, decade after decade can wear you down.  Getting paid less and less every year while the work load steadily increases is hardly inspiring either.  A midlife crisis was in the wings and I had no idea how my passion for the medical profession could be restored.  So back in 2005, I was looking for a new challenge when Ralph first approached me to write a book . I even agreed after he told me the zany title, “Invasion of the Prostate Snatchers.”

Fortunately, when Ralph invited me to be a cowriter, he didn’t give a second thought to the paucity of writing skills.  (Ralph has so much confidence in his own writing skills he believes he could train a monkey to write). Over the next four years we clashed on many occasions. Considering that English was my worst subject in school I have to give myself some credit for having the courage to accept his proposal.

Back then I had little interest I had in developing the craft of writing.  Writing is hard to do.  In addition, with limited free time in a busy medical practice, it’s no surprise that developing writing skills was a low priority to me.  But I was also starting to get upset about the injustice of so many men’s sexual identities being robbed by unnecessary surgery.  The dawning realization, that men, rather than being helped by surgery are actually being tremendously harmed, is what motivated me to finally confront the painful task of developing some writing skills so I could convey my observations to the na├»ve and unsuspecting patients. Thank God I had Ralph to tutor me along through this long and arduous journey.

Learning to write about topics that matter to me (such as saving men from the loss their sexual identity) has saved me from the “meaningless” philosophical wandering that characterizes a midlife crisis.  And as I get older and further polish my writing skills, I have enjoyed even more satisfaction by helping men to avoid numerous medical pitfalls.  For example, in my next blog I’ll be exposing another incredibly repugnant policy—men on Active Surveillance who have 12 large needles plunged through their rectal wall into the prostate gland every year. Yikes!

In the meantime, let me express my genuine appreciation to Ralph for having the patience and skill to draw me down this totally unexpected pathway.  At this point I am happy to report that I see no hint of an existential crisis looming on the horizon.     

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