It’s hard to find someone you’ve known for your whole life, literally from the day you were born, other than your family.
Truthfully, many people may say they know someone their whole life or it reels like you’ve known them your whole life but to truly know someone your entire life is extraordinary! An extraordinary blessing.
I was sitting at an appointment looking at a man who I’ve truly known my entire life and who knows me as well as my parents do.
Over my twelve years, I’ve told him my accomplishments, my failures, my interests, my fears, my joys, my sicknesses and he’s always listened with the same concern and the same wonderful smile.
I can trust him with my thoughts and worries-always. That man is my pediatrician, Dr. Stanley Blondek.
I looked up at him and thought, “Wow! I’ve, literally, known him my entire life!” So have my brothers and many, many other children.
I asked Dr. Blondek why he wanted to become a pediatrician. His answer surprised me completely!
He said, “I didn’t want to be a physician at all, actually! I originally wanted to be a hairdresser.”
I was completely surprised! Dr. Blondek is such a great doctor, brilliant really; I wouldn’t ever have guessed he wanted to be anything but! And then, the surprises kept on coming. I learned he never wanted to go to college until about February of his senior year in high school.
As a child, Dr. Blondek was poor. His parents did their very best, but it was “never easy.”
He was also bullied throughout childhood. As a child, those things can add up to not feeling respected. It was a feeling that stayed with him for a very long time.
Young Stan had been invited to a friend’s house and met his parents. His friend’s father was an obstetrician, and he said to me that, “I saw a different life than I ever had. I wanted to have that type of stability and the environment they were surrounded with.
“My friend’s father garnered respect from many people. It was the first time I really saw that. It was then I realized that someone could actually do that, create that life FOR themselves.”
His mind was set; he was going to be a doctor.
Dr. Blondek went to Rutgers University. He says that he loves to learn, he enjoys “taking tests and challenging himself academically.” (I don’t think I could say the same about tests, but I love to learn new things.) He went on to study at a school for Podiatry in Chicago.
His uncle was a successful Podiatrist and he hoped to join his practice, but many people discouraged him from Podiatry.
So upon graduation he entered Chicago Medical School and did his Pediatric Medicine Residency for 4 years and then was the Chief Resident. He loved this time of learning; he says “college and graduate school gave me a great deal of freedom for intellectual development.”
I asked him why he chose pediatrics, and his answer was as kind as he is.
“Pediatric physicians not only deal with illness but become part of a family, that is so important to me. It’s mutually impactful.
“I deal with social issues, emotional issues, and developmental issues in a child’s life so they can be not only physically healthy but the best person they can be.”
“For me, it’s an honor, they are my kids and I want them to do the best. I want to care for the whole person and sometimes that means caring for the families as well.”
For example Dr. Blondek has helped parents find housing, jobs, funds for pet care, etc. He’s selfless really but every doctor I know is.
Dr. Blondek was very accomplished in his field, but he says, “I was always in search of the next accomplishment and the next. I gave so much of myself to my work; I wanted to keep everyone around me happy.” The problem was all of these wonderful accomplishments weren’t making him truly happy. “It was eye opening for me…I wasn’t taking care of myself.”
I see this with my dad too. There isn’t a time that we go out to dinner, or to the store that he doesn’t end up answering a bunch of medical questions or calling in a prescription. I’ve heard a quote before, “doctor heal thyself” I never understood it until I interviewed Dr. Blondek.
He said, “Sometimes people look at their job or another person to MAKE them happy but you need to be happy with yourself first. With all my professional accomplishments I wasn’t happy. I didn’t have any balance. It’s hard for me to say ‘no’, I look at my patients as mine so I never walked away from work at any moment and it lead to my difficulties.”
Dr. Blondek ended up in treatment but he says it was “the best thing that could have happened.”
“It was hard though to start to look at myself, it wasn’t pretty. I had a lot of bottled up stress. Staying away from alcohol was the easy part but the change in thinking was incredibly hard.”
He is in recovery and has no regrets about going into medicine. He has learned much about himself and it benefits his patients yet again! He has a passion in addressing stress, anxiety and depression in children. He focuses on balance, finding joy in moments, meditation and working out. His inspiration comes from many people and places. In particular, his meditation coach, Jenn. She encouraged him to challenge himself and inspire others but walking on fire. You read that right, FIRE. Hot burning coals of 1200 degrees, three times. Don’t worry he rocked it, no burns.
He has some advice for children that are stressed, bullied, and depressed- “Ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness! Don’t think it will go away on its own. Even when something bad happens, learning to pick yourself up is important, that struggle can lead you to something good.” He continued, “We all need good direction and guidance, be open to others outlooks, opinions and advice. Surround yourself with good people. Your closest friends will influence you the most.”
I love to end with a famous quote usually, this time I’ll end with a quote from my interviewee. I’m certain I couldn’t find a better one.
“Remember life is a journey not a destination, it is a progression. It’s human nature to want more and it’s so important to be grateful and live in the moment. If you aren’t you will lose the chance to live to the fullest worrying about what you don’t have."