On September 16, 2010 I found out that one of the best men I have ever known, my chiropractic mentor, Rob Radtke had been diagnosed with Stage IV Pancreatic cancer. The diagnosis is a death sentence, and a quick one at that. It took me three weeks to muster the gumption to call him; three weeks to swallow my grief so that I wouldn’t be a self-indulgent mess when I talked to him.
Today, I discovered I was four days too late. Rob died October 2, 2010 at the young age of 59. His funeral was two days later. I missed both. I’ve had crying jags all day.
The world needs more Rob Radtkes. Rob loved his wife and girls. He loved his patients. He loved nature. He loved Michigan. He was full of life and love. He was just good. You know, one of those people who radiates light and you want be like him; to live up to his high standards and example.
“Melissa, the world needs more women doctors, more women chiropractors, you do it,” he said when I was 15.
I whined about the science classes and he laughed at me. My senior year of High School, I decided that he might be right and loaded up on science taking AP Anatomy & Physiology and Chemistry, to add insult to academic load. Forget skating to graduation.
In college I avoided science again and went for the marketable Theology B.A. with a minor in Mass Communications–I’d have all the qualifications necessary for a televangelist. But Rob’s admonition wouldn’t leave me alone and so, I went back to school, finished the pre-med stuff and followed in his footsteps to become a chiropractor.
More prestige would have come from being a medical doctor–and probably more money and worse hours, too, but Rob’s example persuaded me otherwise. He helped prevent disease. He “fixed” problems. His sunshiny optimism, clinical deftness and brilliant treatment innovations saved and transformed lives. I wanted to do that too. It was an intimidating prospect. Little did I know that I had stumbled into and been treated by one of the foremost chiropractors in the country, if not the world.
When I got to chiropractic college, I was stunned to find that not all doctors ran their office like Rob did. He was special.
Rob treated every patient the same which is to say he treated every patient like he was the only patient. In the waiting room, you’d see NBA stars and little old ladies, babies and teenagers. Status or lack thereof, wealth or lack thereof, reputation or lack thereof mattered not to Rob. If a man ever judged the heart, it was he. And his patients felt privileged to be treated by him.
In fact, Rob’s patients were so eager to see him, they’d wait. Sometimes, for hours, they’d wait. Another doctor friend of ours, Lance West, would shake his head about Rob’s horrible habit of being overtime. “Terrible business practice,” Lance once good-naturedly grumbled to me. But Lance was Rob’s friend and mentor and Lance had never been Rob’s patient. I had. I knew why they waited. They waited because fifteen minutes with him could transform your day, month, life. He heard you. He saw you. He cared for you.
Empathy alone won’t help heal a patient, though. Smarts matters, too. And Rob Radtke was brilliant. Do you know that the treatment for sub-clinical thyroid malfunction was innovated by Rob Radtke? It was. He taught a local medical doctor everything he’d discovered. He explained it to him and the MD wrote the book–crediting Rob for the work. Rob was too busy treating patients to write books, but he could have written many. He researched all sorts of disorders and came up with novel, often nutritional, solutions.
In Rob’s spare time, he’d hike up North (Michiganders know what I’m talking about) and hunt for naturally gown herbs. I kid you not. He was overjoyed when he found wild comfrey. (Great for joints!) He biked to work. He fished. He loved communing with the outdoors.
Rob was better than me in this: he walked the walk. Religiously. That is to say: He ate organically. He exercised. He lived an utterly congruent healthy life. If he bitched at you about your diet or exercise, he was negotiating from a place of strength. His work life mirrored his own life. This makes his loss to pancreatic cancer all the more mystifying and horrible. Of all the people I know in the world, I don’t think Rob could have done one thing healthier. Rob’s life demonstrates that there is much we don’t know yet about diseases like cancer. If good living and strong genetics guaranteed long life, he would have never gotten this cancer.
I wish I had more time. I wish I could have told Rob what his example meant to me. He was my doctor, mentor and to my great honor, a friend. I remember when he told me, “Call me Rob” after I had graduated from chiropractic college. For years, it felt strange to even think, little less say. He was Dr. Radtke.
Who will I call when I’m stuck with how to treat a challenging patient? Who will I call when one of my family members is ill and I need advice and a clear-eyed perspective? When I’m cynical about all the mean, ruthless people in the world, who, by his very existence, will be there to remind me that there are good and decent and kind people?
I’m reduced to clichés. Life is short. It’s fucking unfair who lives and who dies. It goes fast. But it’s all so true. Rob is gone in a blink and it just seems so wrong.
Funny aside: Rob was averse to all new technology. His appointments were in an old-fashioned appointment book. His practice 100% cash. I cannot find, anywhere, one picture of him online. Not one. I’d like you to see his picture, to get a sense of him. I guess that won’t happen.
Rob was one of the good ones. He deserves to still be here. He should be growing old teaching his grandchildren how to fish. But Rob Radtke is gone.
The world is darker today.
May Rob rest in peace. May God bless his family. Surely, their loss is a great one.
After visiting Michigan, my home state, this last summer, I wrote an emotional post expressing my grief at how the state has declined. It is still difficult to contemplate, because the place is so dear to me.
You can understand why, then, this article from the Detroit News was difficult to read. Here’s the facts. The article itself includes distressing anecdotes.
Poorer, less educated
Michigan’s exodus is one of the state’s best known but least understood problems. Long ignored or downplayed, outmigration has been shrugged off partly because it was assumed that those who were leaving were unemployed blue-collar workers and retirees, groups that, in economic terms, don’t cripple the state with their departure.
But a Detroit News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Internal Revenue Service data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of outmigration.
The state’s net loss to outmigration — the number of people leaving the state minus those moving in from other states — has skyrocketed since 2001. Although the Census Bureau does not report totals moving in and out each year, Internal Revenue Service records show that the population decline is a result of two disturbing trends: The number of Michigan residents leaving the state rose 25 percent between 2001 and 2007, while the number of new residents moving in plummeted by nearly one-third.
Essentially, educated people are leaving because there’s no jobs and no future and taxation is oppressive. So those left behind are those who use most of the government services, only there’s no one to pay for those services.
The solution would to cut back services, be ruthless about budgeting and give incentives for businesses to come and work. But even if that were to happen, it would take time.
Michigan, like upstate New York, is quickly becoming an aging wasteland where there’s no jobs and those who still live there are taxed punitively.
The government doesn’t help the state with policies like these. Government interference only delays the inevitable.
What the Federal Government under President Obama want to do is not to cut services and cut spending, they want to make every state like Michigan so companies have no where to go. Redistribution of wealth and a steadily high unemployment rate, ala Europe, is just the way of life. Workers have guarantees but no one enjoys greatness.
In the socialist’s world, it’s not so bad if there’s suffering–as long as everyone is suffering. Michigan is what the President’s policies look like when played out.
Heaven forbid this happens nationwide.
GM Blackmails Taxpayers
It’s called bankruptcy and restructuring.
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Democrat policies make housing affordable!
A blog reader commented on my post from this summer about Michigan. It was so telling, that I thought I’d share it:
I, too, live in Houston but was born and raised in Michigan. And, you are so right about Michigan.
Beautiful. I miss the four seasons.
Anyway, I hear comments to your blog about how can liberal policies have caused this? I am a
chemical engineer and when I graduated from college (University of Michigan) in 1975 Michigan
had a vibrant chemical and process business economy. However, I remember Attorney General
Frank Kelly waging his war against that same industry. I remember the unions striking one chemical,
pharmaceutical, and food processing plant after another. The result was obvious. Not a sudden
move out, rather a slow disinvestment in the state. Plants didn’t shut down immediately, There just
was no investment. So departments and plants slowly rotted until one after another they were shut
down. If you don’t want business, it isn’t going to stay for long.
Michigan could have a strong chemical business but most are gone and those that are left are
just rumps of what they were. Michigan could have a strong food process business but who wants
to deal with the environmental hassle? So, most the plants are in northern Indiana or northern Ohio.
Michigan’s economy has caved in because they drove everybody out except the auto business. This
took 30 years. Now, the only one left is dying. So, what happens? The state dies.
And this cycle is the cycle that the Democrats would like to impose on the whole country. When there is no where to escape to, America will be like Europe. High unemployment, cushy social services for the lazy, low productivity, long vacations, little innovation (why invest when the government takes the gains?), low birth rates (who can afford kids) and importing labor from regions who don’t like the host country very much creating an angry underclass sucking off of social services.
In a word: socialism. It slowly crushes the spirit and defeats the individual. Unions like it though–everyone is “equal”. Equally miserable.
It’s easy to get lost in loserville when thinking about Michigan’s socialist policies and unremitting corruption. When corpsicles are ignored, a formerly great city and state has surely hit rock bottom. Then again, maybe not.
Aw, heck. Let’s be hopeful. The only place to go for Michigan, has to be up.
A Michigan lawyer friend, out-of-work and still looking for a year now, sent me this little ray of hope. Government cuts are included:
Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s ideas for shrinking the size of state government are getting positive reviews from pro-business groups, but raising fears of layoffs among state workers.
The Democratic governor plans to propose changing the way state government is organized and to suggest other belt-tightening steps in her seventh annual State of the State address tonight.
On Monday, Michigan Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rich Studley welcomed her proposal to close the Department of History, Arts and Libraries this year, although he said he’ll need to see if the changes save money. The $52.8 million department gets $39.7 million from the state general fund.
“Although history and arts and libraries are important, it is not an essential service like the Michigan Department of State Police,” Studley said during a news conference.
He also backs a suggestion by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, to recombine the departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality. They were separated under Granholm’s predecessor, Republican Gov. John Engler.
It’s a start. Now that’s some hope. Hopefully, we’ll see some change.
P.S. The reason I keep bringing up Michigan, besides having been a former resident, is because Michigan is what unchecked liberalism looks like. Michigan is like the Europe of the U.S.–a nice, close example of government corruption and largess. This is not how we want America to look.
Had a discussion with a liberal Texan who has not, in her adult years, experienced economic difficulty. That is, unlike me, she has not lived in an economically dying state (New York in the mid-90’s, Michigan in the late 90’s early 00’s) and finally, an economically dead state (NY and MI now). So, a few people at her place of employment have been laid off and she’s worried. She was supremely offended when I said, “It’s not bad yet and it’s going to get worse.”
Just as a citizen in Michigan and New York has a hard time fathoming how thoroughly boiled a frog he is, a Texan or Floridian has a difficult time fathoming how good he has it.
A Southern liberal also has a tough time comprehending the destruction the union mentality and heavy taxation brings to a state. Unions destroy productivity and detach performance from pay. This, ironically, interferes with individualism. As in, the individual defers to the whole and becomes less inclined to be the best he can be. His spirit is destroyed. So much so, that in absence of unions, many men (mostly men) sit and wait for salvation. They are used to the strength coming from without, not from within.
Heavy taxation does it’s own sort of damage. Businesses, bodies of people together, reach a point where the work load isn’t worth it. The companies either move or fold.
Texas has grown because states like Michigan and New York kill their business climate. And yet, a Texas liberal refused to hear the truth about taxes and unions while simultaneously lamenting lay-offs at her company. This kind of disconnect is disturbing, but revealing.
What liberals want is a guarantee. She wants no one to ever lose a job. She wants no one to ever to know economic discomfort. She wants the country to have Texas’ economy but tax and unionize like New York and Michigan. You can’t have it both ways. It won’t work, as California is now learning. The safety net, large and cushy, is its own sort of noose. Eventually it kills the golden goose. The goose dies or flies South.
The worrying thing is that if the whole nation operates like Michigan, New York and California, the economy everywhere will die. At a certain point, government money runs out. That can’t just keep printing it forever.
It’s a terrible thing when liberals get their way. The policies do the exact opposite of their intention. It’s not bad here in Texas. In fact, it’s still pretty good. Liberal policies won’t prevent disaster here. They cause them. I’m afraid not enough people know that.
How To Ruin The Car Industry
And Obama cloaks his intentions in states rights.
Ha ha! (Tormenting family and friends still stuck there.)