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Allen Lawrence, M.D.
My Many Lives

Part I

The First Part of My Life

I was born in Los Angeles California on May 10, 1939. I grew up in West Los Angeles. After graduating High School I attended U.C.L.A. undergraduate and then U.C. Irvine Medical School. Upon graduation form medical school I interned at U.S.C. Los Angeles County General Hospital. During my last year of medical school, 1965, the Viet Nam War was boiling up. I enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a medical officer and upon completion of my internship on July 4, 1967 was sworn in as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force. After training in Texas I was sent to the 863rd Medical Group at Anderson Air Force Base on the Island of Guam. I spent two years on Guam as a General Medical Officer and a year as Vice Commander of the Medical Group.

 In 1969, returned to Los Angeles and spent a year practicing general medicine before starting my residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

My Second Life

I attended my residency program in OB/Gyn at Cedars Sinai Hospital. By the time I started my residency in 1970, I had been married for nearly nine years and was the father of three children. I studied, attended to patients, I learned, performed surgery, worked and when possible spent time with my wife and three children. I was a very busy person and it was a difficult but rewarding period of time. I loved delivering babies and I must admit it was rewarding. At the end of my three years of training I had hoped to stay on at Cedars and teach but that did not work out. Instead in 1973, I opened my first office at 92001 Sunset Blvd., Sunset and Doheny. For those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, this is right on the border line of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. It was not at all unusual to bump into celebrities such as Alfred Hitchcock, Bob Newhart, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin, John Larraquette, Laine Kazan, and many others either going up or down in the elevators or walking through the lobby. There was a Schwab’s Pharmacy in the building and the building was right at the end of the famous “Sunset Strip” and within walking distance from some of the most famous nightclubs and restaurants in the world.

My office was on the 7th Floor facing out over the City of Los Angeles. I had a nearly 180-degree view of Los Angeles from Downtown LA to the Pacific Palisades. On a clear day I could see Santa Catalina Island 26 miles off of the Coast of Long Beach. It was a great time to work in this area.

Shortly after starting my practice my marriage ended in divorce. For the next six years I delivered babies, did surgery and was a bachelor in Hollywood-Beverly Hills. I made many friends, saved lives and brought several thousand souls into this complicated world.

While I had a great life, it was not entirely fun and games. After my 5th year in practice I began to find myself becoming depressed after delivering otherwise healthy babies. During my years practicing OB/Gyn I never lost a single baby, I never lost a single mother, I never had to put a baby nor a mother into intensive care. Yet, I found myself feeling depressed. At times, I would deliver a baby, see to the mother’s recovery and then find a quite place to hide and cry. This went on for several years, I could not talk about it nor could I really understand it. I was successful yet unhappy. I worried that one of the babies I delivered or was going to deliver was going to die, yet this never happened nor really did it ever even come very close to happening. It was not until much later on, the mid 1980's in fact, that I finally realized what was really happening.

In 1979, I made a move to join with two other established OB/Gyn doctors. As it turned out, it was both the wrong move and the perfect thing to have done. The other doctors unfortunately did a great deal of surgery, much of which I felt had not been really necessary. I could not live in a situation where I was not comfortable with the ethics of the doctors I worked with. I left. Fortunately, prior to leaving I meet the woman who would become my second wife and the love of my life. When I moved, she came with me.

I opened my third office in 1980 in Encino, California, the San Fernando Valley. It was a small office as I had made a conscious decision to limit my work time so that I could spend more time with my new wife and my family. Life, however, still had more changes in mind for me and they were to unfold over the next three to four years. With more time on my hands I became restless. I opened a second office and then joined into a business venture to buy, develop, build, grow and sell medical practices. Within two years I was working in and managing four medical practices including my OB/Gyn practice. Instead of more time, I had less time. Instead of working less, I was working more hours than I had since my residency.

During the last part of 1983, I experienced a sudden change in my heart rate, it suddenly for no apparent reason, shot up to 240 beats per minute. I was short of breath, dizzy and felt extremely weak. I called a friend of mine, a cardiologist, and he came to my office where he performed an electrocardiogram. He confirmed that I was having an episode of atrial fibrillation. Over the next weeks my heart rate would rise and fall and when it was up I was at the edge of my ability to function. We tried a long series of medications in order to try to control it, but it seemed that my heart had a mind of its own and was going to make the decision of when it would be normal and when it was going to run away with itself. At that point in time I had not idea how much the atrial fibrillation was going to change my life and that it would ultimately lead me to an entirely new way of thinking about medicine.


Continue to Part II           


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