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Allen Lawrence, M.D.

My Many Lives

Part II


Life Changes, Hawaii and a New Way of Thinking

One afternoon after several months of recurring episodes of atrial fibrillation, it became clear that I was not going to be able to continue functioning the way I had set up my life. I was beginning to realize that running into the hospital to perform deliveries, performing emergency surgeries, the day to day stresses of running my own practice, and also overseeing three others, was taking a great toll on me. At one of my now weekly visits to the cardiologist I asked him, “Why this was happening to me? Why the atrial fibrillation?” He shook his head. Then out of the blue, I asked a question that changed my life, “Do you think that stress could play any role in this?” My friend looked up at me shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sure! But we really do not know a lot about the role of stress in causing atrial fibrillation. Why don’t you take some time off, get away for a while and see if it makes a difference?”

I arranged for another doctor to cover my practice and went off to Maui, Hawaii for a month to lie on the beach rest and reduce my stress. It was almost like magic, as soon as I left the plane and checked into the hotel, my heart rate returned to normal. Over the entire month, I do not believe that I had one abnormal beat of my heart. I felt rested, relaxed and by the end of our stay was raring to return to work, to my patients and to my practice.

In early December 1983, I returned to Encino a new man. My heart was normal again and I was ready to throw myself back into the complex life I had created for myself. I could not entirely however, get past the feeling that more than just a rest had happened to me, somehow the fact that my heart had gotten better while I was away seemed to mean something more than just “a rest.” I had changed my life, at least temporarily, and it had changed my body. This impressed me but it would not be for a while longer that I would realize that this was a significant event and I had just had a very significant insight.

Unfortunately, or possibly as things have turned out, fortunately, almost as soon as submerged myself back into my old life my fibrillation returned and this time with a vengeance. It was worse now than it had been before, at times I found it nearly impossible to function. I was at best functioning only marginally most of the time. In mid January 1984, I was at the edge my ability to cope with it all, my wife and I decided to take two weeks off and go back to Maui. We stayed in Maui for two weeks, and as with my first trip almost as soon as I debarked the plane my heart returned to normal. I do not believe that I had one single episode of fibrillation during the two weeks.

While in a shop on Maui a stranger asked where I came from and I told him that I was from Los Angeles, California. We talked for a while and it turned out that he also was a physician and worked for a medical group in Kihei, Maui, Hawaii. When I told him I was an OB/Gyn he told me that their OB/Gyn had just left and that they were looking for someone to replace him. He gave me the name of the owner of Kihei Physicians Medical Clinic, and I called him after I returned to my hotel room. This was on a Thursday and I was returning to Los Angeles on the next Saturday afternoon, 2 days from then. Saturday morning I meet with the owner and Medical Director of Kihei Physicians Medical Clinic, we talked for a while and we liked each other. We left the meeting with no resolution only “Let’s think about it?” on both or our parts. I boarded the plane to Los Angeles that afternoon and was back in the office early Monday morning. And almost as soon as I walked into my office my heart began to fibrillate.

That afternoon I received a call from the owner of Kihei Physicians Medical Clinic, “We want you to start as soon as possible!” I talked with my wife and we made the decision to sell my practice and move to Maui. In two weeks we were Maui bound.


Continue to Part III            


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