At 87, this doctor is still in
That's what I thought as I stepped into the swank Beverly Hills home of otolaryngologist Dr. Murray Grossan, who, at 87, still practices over 20 hours a week.
"I have to keep working," he says, "My wife shops on Rodeo Drive."
A serene, Yoda-like man -- though without the mangled syntax and Kermit the Frog voice -- Grossan performed surgery until he was 77-years-old. Now he focuses on creating products and writing books like Free Yourself from Sinus and Allergy Problems - Permanentlyand the soon-to-be released Stressed? Anxiety? Your Answer is in the Mirror.
"I have a sinus and allergy problems," I told him. "I have stress. I have anxiety. FIX ME!"
Still a certified advanced scuba diver -- I know, at 87 -- Grossan has made it his life's work to find non-drug solutions to medical problems. "Drugs interact differently at 100 feet below," he explains "so I had to create my own products."
Products such as the Hydro Pulse Sinus System, which is like a Waterpik, but for your nose. Grossan was kind enough to give me one, which I've used now for a couple of weeks. While shooting pulsing water up your nose sounds like something sanctioned by Dick Cheney, it's cleared my chronically-blocked sinuses in a way that nothing else has.
Grossan also has products for people suffering from ansomia (loss of smell) and tinnutitis (ringing in the ears). "Or if you have a rat with poor hearing," he says. "It's been proven with rats."
(Humor is an essential part of his practice, so much so that he thinks of joy as the sixth sense: "Good hormones flow when you're happy.")
Continuing on the principle that someone who is healthy, wealthy and wise is worth listening to, I also read Grossan's books.
"You cannot be stressed if your muscles are relaxed," he writes. "If your body is relaxed, you can't have anxiety." Noting how patients could modify their behavior while watching a biofeedback machine, he decided to try the same process by looking in a mirror.
"Biofeedback's great," he told me, "but you've got to drive downtown to do it, then pay to park. Here, you just look in the mirror and get essentially the same effect."
Grossan's mirror exercises are designed to literally rewire your brain to not engage your body's "fight or flight" response:
I tried Grossan's exercises and am happy to report they've worked. Not only am I calmer and happier, but no one has tried to eat me.You are born with this system, which allowed our ancestors to avoid being eaten...The fault in our culture today is that we get the same adrenalin and tight muscles when the boss wants to speak to us privately or the ringing phone might be an unwanted call from an ex-boyfriend. The boss does not come into the room to attack and try to eat us; yet, some respond with exactly that reaction.
And I have a new hero, a role model for what aging can look like. As if he hasn't accomplished enough, on the day we met Grossan was preparing to pitch a screenplay idea to a Hollywood producer.
When I asked him what motivates him to stay so active, he replies, "I'm alive when I create things. If I retired, I'd be doing exactly what I'm doing now -- creating products and writing books."
He smiles and takes a deep, relaxing breath. "The knowledge is no good locked up in my little old head."
And that, my friends, is The Upside.