A colorful doctor's office decorated with plants and posters transforms into an empty and gray room.

My Urologist Retired

In early 2006, I walked into Dr. Unni’s office for the first time. I had never seen a urologist, never passed blood in my urine. Never had any serious health issues that were not easily explained by an accident or injury.

Dr. Unni was a small man, short and very thin. He was older than me by several years and reminded me of a grandfather-figure straight away. He was really soft-spoken, but his voice had a resonance of wisdom and kindness. He was also matter-of-fact and gently blunt.

Beginning a 15-year long relationship with my urologist

Introductions made, he asked my symptoms and then told me, without hesitation, “You have bladder cancer.” Such began a relationship that lasted 15 years. I remember meeting with him after my tumor removal. I asked about chemo and or radiation. He looked at me as if I was daft and said, “You don’t have cancer anymore, why would you need cancer treatment?” I was so assured I never thought of seeking a second opinion.

Asking about my recurrence likelihood

Somewhere around the 7th or 8th year, I again asked his opinion. I inquired as to my recurrence likelihood. “If your cancer comes back, your recurrence likelihood is 100%, if it does not then your likelihood is 0%.” No smile or grin, just a statement of absolute fact.

It was two years ago or so back that he looked over my chart and remarked that I was many years out of symptoms. “The longer you go without a recurrence, the better it is.” Still no joking manner or smirk.

Due for my annual scope and exam

My 14-year scope and exam are due. I received the requisite phone call to confirm my appointment. “Dr. Unni has retired, and you will be seeing Doctor..." I had stopped listening.

I was and am gutted. Like a child who has become lost from his parent on a shopping trip. I just feel lost. Doc was the one who diagnosed me with such ease. He removed my tumor instead of telling me what he found during the biopsy. He just removed it and told me he saw no reason not to since he was there. He will always be the man I credit with saving my life.

A new milestone

Since my diagnosis, I have had so many milestones. I have seen all my children graduate from high school. All three have graduated from some form of higher education in keeping with their chosen fields. I have been the Pastor at each of their weddings and been there for the birth of our grandson. Jan and I have celebrated 14 more years of wonderful marriage. Each year at my exam, Doc would remind me not to miss an appointment. I told him there were two dates I never forgot. My appointment to see him and my anniversary. He told me I was a wise fellow.

I will miss my urologist

In October I will go to my appointment. In the same room. The same sterile table. I will count the same ceiling tiles and wait for the all-clear. I am sure the doctor will be qualified and able. That said, he will not be Dr. Unni. He will not be the man I have grown accustomed to and very fond of.

I will do my best to accept this change, but I will forever miss and kindly remember my friend.

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