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Get to Know the Doctors: An Interview with Dr. Goldstein

Dr. Michael Goldstein loves his home state. In fact, he loves it so much that he found his way back even after living in La Jolla, Calif. He has even managed to stay strong in his devotion to the Huskers after some recent rough years.

Always trying to keep his brain sharp, Dr. Goldstein has a current streak of 1,577 New York Times crossword puzzles completed. Take a deeper dive into the mind of Dr. Goldstein with us, won’t you?

When and why did you decide you wanted to become an Ophthalmologist? What drew you to it?

I began thinking about Ophthalmology during my first two years of medical school. I liked (and still like) the fact that patients are very appreciative when my actions are beneficial to their daily lives. That action can be something as simple as making sure their glasses or contacts are optimized, or as complicated as complex surgical procedures. That is not true in some areas of medicine—a patient can, for example, be started on a blood pressure medicine and not notice anything, even if their doctor says the medicine helped.

How did you find yourself in school in La Jolla?

Truth is, I made the mistake of listening to my high school guidance counselor! My grandmother and some other family lived in Los Angeles, and I wanted to go to UCLA. My counselor told me that with my good grades, I should be accepted without any problem. I put UC San Diego down as my second choice in the UC system because a high school classmate was going there. I sent my application in, and about two weeks later I got a letter (no email in 1975-76!) from UCLA saying that because of the volume of out-of-state applicants, my application had been forwarded to UCSD.

My final decision came down to Northwestern (in Chicago) or UCSD. I visited Northwestern in January, and the temperature was about -10 degrees and the wind was blowing off of Lake Michigan. I got back to the airport, picked up a newspaper, and saw the weather in San Diego was a high of 75 and a low of 60. Decision made!

What compels you to be involved organizations like the Metropolitan Omaha Medical Society?

I would not say that I am especially involved, although I am a member of those organizations. All of them, from the local to the state to the national level, do a tremendous job of looking out for the best interests of ophthalmologists and our patients.

Do you have any crossword routines? What’s your record?

I do the crosswords in the World-Herald, and the NY Times crossword, every day, and have a present streak of 1,577 NYT crosswords in a row. Most people think their Sunday crossword is the hardest, because it is a bigger grid. Actually, they get more difficult from Monday to Saturday—the Saturday puzzles are a bear, and Thursday/Friday can be tough because there is always a hidden theme that you need to figure out.

The NYT also has this sneaky thing where sometimes you need to put more than one letter in a square, or use a number rather than a letter. The Sunday puzzle is about the same difficulty as a Wednesday, but bigger. The app on my iPad keeps statistics; my record time for a Monday puzzle is 2:48.

It says I once did a Sunday in 5:09, but I don’t think that’s accurate. . . I’m pretty sure I’d remember it if that happened!

What’s your favorite golf memory? And your favorite Husker fandom memory?

Both of those are easy—my favorite golf memory was getting the chance to play at Augusta National in 2011, about a month before the Masters.

My favorite Husker memories are going to games as a kid with my dad and grandfather, and being in attendance for all three of the national championship games in the 1990s. Unfortunately, recent Husker memories are not as pleasant…

What’s your favorite thing about being part of the ilumin team?

We have a great group of physicians and staff who have the same priorities that I do—take care of patients as best we possibly can, and have fun doing it. That was a goal when Drs. Arkfeld, Parson, and I opened ilumin in 2010, and we were fortunate to find Dr. Menke, and then Dr. Simone, to help us ensure that will carry on into the future.

What’s an interesting fact about you that you think your colleagues or patients would be surprised by?

That’s a tough one. I guess that I like to cook?