You just never know about families. I mean, who would have ever thought that I would give up my “golden years” to take care of my mother.
Then there’s what’s happening to the venerable doctor that I used to go to, back when I lived a lot closer to his office. Not too long ago, I got a letter in the mail from the young doctor with whom he was sharing a practice saying that Dr. Skiff had retired. Come to find out (from another patient of his who had spoken to the venerable doctor, who is 77 years old) that it’s far from the whole story. Apparently Dr. Skiff’s children from his first marriage (one of whose spouses works in the office) did some maneuvering to get him “fired,” after first slowly siphoning off his patients to the other doctor. I’m sure there’s a whole lot of resentment over the second marriage and second batch of children and a whole lot of other relative things going on, but it still sounds like a rotton deal for my ol’ GP.
In actuality, Dr. John Skiff, is a board certified internist who comes from a medical lineage. His father, Dr. J. Victor Skiff has a golf course named after him in Saratoga Springs. The Dr. John Skiff whose patients I and my family were for more than 30 years proved to be an excellent diagnostician, figuring out — after I had been to several specialists for a swollen knee that kept me on crutches for a month — that the swelling was due to salmonella poisoning from a bout of food poisoning I had several days before the swelling appeared. A dose of the right antibiotic, and the swelling immediately disappeared. Before I went to Dr Skiff, the specialists had coritsone-shot me, MRId me, tried to fluid-drain me, and finally gave up. Dr. Skiff was like a medical sleuth — he would keep investigating until he found the culprit.
Dr. Skiff’s patients either hated him or loved him. As he was diagnosing and treating, he would expound on what he was finding, why he thought it was what he thought it was, other similar cases he had had — or the lack of similar cases –, what the various options were for treating, etc. etc. etc. He also loved to try out new therapies and was always up on the latest.
My kids never had a pediatrician. I never had a separate gynocologist. We all went to Dr. Skiff for everything, and he never failed us. Except once, when I was switching birth control pills and he never mentioned that I needed to use additional birth control because I might become fertile until the new dosage took hold. And that’s how theonetrue b!X came about. So I guess he didn’t fail me after all.
It’s one thing to be able to continue to choose your own life’s path as you get older. It’s another to be manipulated by family.
And sometimes it’s hard to know whether you’re choosing or being manipulated.
you sit at the dinner table and she talks non-stop. she says that she remembers the first time she met you. you and some of your women friends were having dinner in her apartment. you have no idea what she’s talking about. you ask her if she knows who you are. she changes the subject. talks to you as though you were a childhood friend of hers, or maybe her sister. the characters from her life are all confused, confusing. are you my mother, she asks. no, I’m your daughter, you say. yes, she says and talks about the pretty dress you wore when you crowned the Virgin Mary in the May procession. she wants you to be that girl again, and you know that you were never the girl she thought you were to begin with.

5 thoughts on “relativities

  1. Ya know, as soon as I posted it, it occurred to me that you never heard this story, even though I have told it many times. Both you and your sister were surprise gifts. And you have never stopped suprising us in all kinds of good ways.

  2. There was the additional surprise of taking you to the doctor at St. Peter’s for a checkup when carrying the son only to find out…surprise!…you were in labor.

  3. There’s alot more to that “story” than you know. I’m not sure where you got your info on what happened to the “good doctor”, but its a little flawed. Not much was said to the public in efforts to keep his reputation as good as possible with the community, seeing as he has been respected for so long in it. the truth is this. Albany medical center bought Dr. skiff out, then shortly after, bankrupted him and left him. Dr. Foley then bought the practice and kept Dr. Skiff on staff because Dr. skiff wanted to continue working. The problem was, Dr. Skiff was used to running the show and so he would constantly try to do things his way. As time went on and he realized he was no longer in control of things, he became increasly more angry. He would come out and scream at staff members right in front of a waiting room full of patients.Also he refused to change in any way, shape, or form when it came to practicing medicine. And anyone in medicine knows you cannot survive that way. He was still billing using codes from 40 years ago! this meant we had to pay someone to review all his reciepts and change the codes, to avoid him getting arrested for malpractice and “upcoding.” Bottom line is, he cost more than he made. But Dr.foley accepted this and belived that it was best for him to keep him on staff for Dr. skiffs good and the good of his patients. But as the years went on, Dr. skiff became more unruly and paranoid. Finaly, believing Dr. Foley to be “hiding” things from him, BROKE INTO DR. FOLEYS PERSONAL OFFICE and went through his desk and personal belongings. He pulled all his papers out and threw them everywhere, finally leaving. This is when Dr. foley realized it was time for Dr. Skiff to retire. He quietly and respectfully let him go, believing that it was the best thing to do. However, Dr. Skiff did not share the same respect and has dragged Dr. foley’s name through the mud ever since. So there you have it. It was not a “disgruntled family member”…..though he tried blaming it on them for a while too, and it wasn’t mean old doctor foley firing a sweet old man. It was him, and him alone, that got himself fired.

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