WILLOW SPRING — Dr. Ruffin Bumgardner announced Wednesday that he would be hanging up his white coat and endoscopic tube for good in January.
“It had always been my dream, ever since I was a little boy, to live the good life as a proctologist,” said the 58-year old doctor. “While my friends were playing baseball and talking about becoming astronauts, I was building clay models of the descending colon and looking at my own anus in the bathroom mirror.”
Now, though, Bumgardner is calling it quits. “I just don’t get that thrill anymore,” he said. “You know that feeling jet pilots get when they take off, or when paratroopers jump out of planes?” he said, wiping his eyes with Charmin. “It like that when you’re looking at anal polyps. Well, not exactly like that. Looking at polyps was a whole lot more exciting.”
Colleague Dr. Tracy Ascue was taken by surprise. “Is that the scuttlebutt? I had no idea. I must be a little behind,” said the petite doctor. She said she has never seen anyone more dedicated to the workings and trappings of the human colon than Dr. Bumgardner. “He deserves retirement. He’s amazing. He was my mentor. He makes his patients feel whole again. As whole as possible.”
Asked whether the intransigence of HMOs, the declining rate of reimbursement from Medicare, and the advent of Obamacare had anything to do with his retirement, Dr. Bumgardner poo-pooed the notion. “That’s a bunch of crap,” he said from his home on Butts Road in Angier. “I don’t live fancy. I can afford declining rates. My office is basically a hole.” He clarified, “In the wall.”
Not everyone is supporting Bumgardner’s decision to retire. Raleigh patient and former Wake County DA Colon Willoughby, Jr. said, “It’s asinine. He’s young. He could continue. My office might launch a probe into whether we can get him to keep practicing.”
But whole support is expected from Bumgardner’s wife of 30 years, Cornelia Browning. “I didn’t realize he was announcing his retirement to the press,” she said. “Ruffin sometimes has diarrhea of the mouth. But I’m going to enjoy having him at the house more. He was super dedicated to his work.” She smiled wistfully. “I understand loving your job. I do. But crack of dawn seems early to get to work, even for a procto.”