Letter to the Editor: God bless the Waukon community

To the Editor:

I have told this story to most people. However, I will tell it one more time.

When I first interviewed in Waukon, it was such a wet and foggy day that the road from Rockford, IL seemed to be endless. I was driving with my wife and my five-year-old daughter. We had left two small children behind with my mother-in-law, and Angeline was six months pregnant.

I got discouraged from the driving as it was getting late and I told Angeline that I wanted to turn the car around and go back home. My wife said, “They are waiting for you, we are going to find Waukon”. In my frustration, I had lost interest.

I pulled into a house and asked for directions, the older gentleman looked at me like an alien when I asked, “Am I going in the right direction to Waukon?”. He just pointed towards the sign on the other side of the road and said, “It’s right there”.

Seriously, that scene only became hilarious to me several months later because of how tense I was that day. I entered the town, kind of driving fast, and to top my day, a cop stopped me as I was passing the cemetery. He probably perceived how tired and irritated I was and he just gave me a verbal warning. From there, I only wanted to get through the interview as fast as I could and get out of town with no intention of ever coming back.

Well, you know the rest of the story since I am still here.

After residency, I had told Angeline that I wanted to be a rural doctor. The city girl in her was puzzled. But being the ever-supportive wife that she was, she said, “OK then, we have a deal if you let me pick the place”. After the interview, as we were driving home, she said, “That’s the place”.

I couldn’t believe it. Waukon? Why? Well, long story short, a few weeks later, I signed. All married men understand...

I am only telling this story to let people know that from not even wanting to practice or live here, this town and this community became everything we were looking for. I claim this town as my own and I could say for the rest of my life that I am from Waukon, because of the love that I have witnessed and shared with the community.

This is where my children have spent most of their lives and will always call home, where we developed deep friendships with people, where I enjoyed practicing medicine and play a role in taking care of medical problems from beginning to end of life. I have enjoyed my practice tremendously and this will always be a reference.

The practice of medicine has always been a vocation for me, but I have discovered that it is truly a ministry of love as you need to focus on care and compassion as the mainstay of this mission. I definitely would like to treat people well because I do pray for good care, love and compassion when needed for my family and I.

However, as life goes on, we also realized how much our kids were missing out from having almost no experience with grandparents and other family members. We felt bad when looking at pictures as they would point out the wrong grandparent, or aunt or uncle. In the midst of this new realization, my dad had a stroke and

I had to leave unexpectedly for a week to be by his side. The stroke left my dad paralyzed, and this was devastating as he was making plans to come and see us and the kids.

That’s when we decided that if we do not make a change, our kids will never have the opportunity to know what it means to be surrounded by family. We had to give them the experience before they leave for college. We needed to be closer to an airport to give our aging and declining parents a chance to visit more often.

My office practice has been fulfilling on many levels: a great staff that I will always commend and recommend; great support from my employer, the Mayo Clinic; and the best rural hospital you will find in a 500-mile radius or more. Veterans Memorial Hospital has the blessing to have or have had the best family physicians that I ever encountered. It has people who have gone and still go above and beyond the physician-patient relationship to care for people and who have made this hospital one of the top priorities in their lives.

It employs some of the most accomplished nursing, paramedic, lab tech, X-ray tech, clerks and all around staff that I have ever encountered in my short life. I will always be grateful to this fine institution and I pray that this community continues to support the hospital through thick and thin, because it is the pride of our small rural town.

We are moving to Reedsburg, WI, where I will be working at the hospital and the clinic, doing pretty much the same things I am doing here minus inpatient care and ER.

I have so many people I want to acknowledge in this letter, but I am afraid to omit some so I would like, from all my family, to extend our appreciation from the bottom of our hearts for the love that we have experienced for the past years. We love you all very much and maybe so much that I will have to make Corn Day a priority in my calendar (you know me with corn, I might have to plant a corn field so to give a break to people that give me corn).

We love the church and plan on coming back every now and then to attend mass services, but above all we will stay connected with the people that have made us part of their families, and we have made them part of ours.

God bless the Waukon community with a continued sense of love, peace, unity and prosperity. May our Lord Jesus Christ send you all the graces you individually need for the rest of your lives. Amen.

Dr. Benjamin Nesseim, MD


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