For you, Dr. Chocolate

This entry, my first since 2013, is in honor of another doctor- my uncle, Dr. Paul Krochmal, who just passed unexpectedly last week. The only other doctor in my family, my grandfather Dr. Henry Krochmal, passed when I was just beginning medical school. Paul talked a lot about him, particularly what a good, kind, and caring man and doctor he was. So perhaps it is not surprising that the knowledge Paul is gone has hit me most deeply during some simple moments I have had with my patients since then, knowing that Paul too carried on my grandfather’s doctoring spirit, in his own lighthearted, yet solemn encounters with his patients in the Emergency Room. Paul had an active and inquisitive mind, and was a great teacher- I remember many medical stories as well as enlightenments in medical history- for example the heartbreaking yet inspiring story of a Viennese trained physician (like my grandfather), Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, who’s story is well worth looking up.

But, it is not that which I am thinking about right now. It is that Paul too was a good, kind, caring man and doctor himself. It is a humble reminder that while we physicians don’t have close to all the answers, we have a sacred role to live up to as best we can. Dr. Krochmal was also known as “Dr. Chocolate”, or “Dr. Bigote” (Dr. Mustache to his Spanish speaking patients), and he was there year after year in the ER to bring a smile and some peace to the worried, and sick, and suffering.

So, as I walked into my quiet office this morning to get ready for my day, again it hit me that my mentor Uncle Paul- Dr. Krochmal, was gone, and with that came the sudden realization of now being the eldest Krochmal carrying on the doctor tradition. So much is changing and happening in medicine now. What I would like to honor is Paul’s curious mind and willingness to be open to ideas outside established wisdom. But, more than anything, the legacy I would like to carry on is the kindness and compassion that honors the life of anyone in the healing profession. So Uncle Paul- Dr. Chocolate- you passed too soon- but your life and work was full and timeless.

Posted by Dr. Rob

1 comment

Our condolences, Dr Rob. Although you will continue to celebrate the great life that your uncle had, and shared with you and others, it is always difficult to lose a mentor. Someone who was there to discuss a problem or a solution, or just share a laugh. Being the “older” generation now, its up to you to take up his and your own mantle. The manner in which you wrote of him shows how proud he was of you, and what a great man you are. See you in December.

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