See that guy to my left? I’m confident there’d be no Just Wright Citrus without him.
In fact, I’m pretty confident there’d be no me without him.
He’s Dr. Parmanand Gurnani, an Inverness psychiatrist whose successful 40-year-plus career, including over 20 years in Citrus, ends today in retirement.
I met Dr. Gurnani many years ago as a patient. It wasn’t my idea. I knew nothing of him and the last thing I wanted was to see a shrink.
But my health was in severe decline. I had just returned from vacation with my then-wife and young daughter, and the entire time all I could do was picture their lives without me and how much that made sense.
We came home from that vacation and the next day I couldn’t get out of bed.
Let me tell you something. If you’re enjoying life without a worry, have at it. But just know there are people wandering around whose insides don’t always match their outsides.
My primary doctor said he thought I was depressed. He gave me a referral to Dr. Gurnani and when I arrived the day of my first visit, I sat in my car for 15 minutes deciding whether to go in. A psychiatrist? I wasn’t that bad, or so I thought.
I went in. Smart move.
Dr. Gurnani was professional and assuring. He prescribed medication and made sure I was seeing him at least once a week. He brought stuff out of me I hadn’t talked about with anyone ever.
I guess that’s the idea, right?
Through the combination of medication and weekly visits, over time my depression eased to the point where psychiatric care was no longer necessary and I bid adieu to the good doctor.
His office called me a few weeks ago to let me know Dr. Gurnani was retiring and wondered if I’d like to talk with him first. They were thinking of an interview and not a last session on the couch, but I jumped at the chance for a Cattle Dog chat.
It’s been 20 years since we had a good talk and he started off as if it’s just another week.
He asked about someone important to me by name.
“I thought we were here to talk about your retirement,” I replied.
He only smiled. We chatted for 20 minutes and I’m reminded again why I trusted him so much all those years ago.
It’s time for retirement. Dr. Gurnani is 70 with children and grandchildren and reached a point in life when he wants to enjoy the fruits of his labor.
With no one coming in to take his place, Dr. Gurnani refers patients to psychiatrists in Ocala or Brooksville.
Saying goodbye to patients is excruciating.
Most people have great relationships with the physicians they trust and even more so with psychiatrists. Being told my psychiatrist is retiring could bum out the day for sure.
(Whoever is in charge of Citrus County psychiatrist recruitment, get on that right away, OK?)
Dr. Gurnani is a good man with a heart for his community. At a time when discussion of mental health and addiction is front and center, we will need his knowledge of the Citrus County psyche to move forward. (After he gets some retirement rest, of course.)
As we ended our Cattle Dog chat, I reached into my pocket and gave Dr. Gurnani my 17-year sobriety medallion. I was never honest with him about my drinking and he didn’t hold it against me. Instead, his focus was always on healing the hurts regardless of how they got there.
Professionals like Dr. Parmanand Gurnani could hang a shingle anywhere but choose to call Citrus County their home.
Enjoy your retirement, Dr. Gurnani. You sure earned it.
— Just so you know, I’m not immune to the weather news.
Although it is true I was mowing my yard Sunday when someone from another part of the state texted and told me to be safe. She mentioned that cone of uncertainty thing.
That storm? It’s coming here?
Enough that the county EOC ordered shelters open, which closes school Monday afternoon and then both Tuesday and Wednesday. Check the sheriff's Facebook page for updates.
Here we go.
Stay safe, friends. Let’s hope the conversation we’re having Wednesday is how the kids are out of school on a sunny day.
We’ll be ready either way.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.