Hilton Koppe was working as a doctor in a small town when he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
As the fallout from the trauma of the diagnosis began to settle, he tried to work out how he ended up in that position.
Was it a consequence of trauma from working as a country doctor for more than 30 years? Did it come from his lifelong feelings of being an outsider trying so hard to fit in? Or was it a result of trauma experienced by his parents and grandparents in their search for security across three continents?
Or maybe it was all down to personality type. His nature.
Did the qualities which made him a trusted doctor also make him more vulnerable to the inevitable impact of caring for people for many years?
In his memoir One Curious Doctor, Koppe writes of his family fleeing Europe, the lessons he learned from the patients he helped, and his sadness and relief of no longer being able to practise medicine.
"You're done," his doctor told him.
"You've got PTSD. Classic case. An accumulation of 40-something years in medicine. All that vicarious trauma. The only safe solution is to stop work."
His body had been trying to give him the message for months - and when he finally picked up the phone to say he wouldn't return to work it was only minutes before he felt a load lifting. It took longer for the embarrassment and shame to lift. But it did.
Koppe has written the book in the form of a traditional medical record - something he hopes will "act as a gentle guide into the world of a doctor".
One Curious Doctor: A memoir of medicine, migration and mortality (Wakefield Press) RRP $34.95.
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