How a Neurosurgeon (and Netflix Star) Spends His Sundays

Yes, it’s possible to be a doctor and play one on TV. Just look at the career of Dr. David Langer, who is the chairman of neurosurgery at Lenox Hill Hospital, which also provides the backdrop for “Lenox Hill,” a Netflix documentary series. The show follows four doctors — including Dr. Langer — and their patients, at the hospital.

Dr. Langer had early dreams of becoming a cardiologist, but when he was 22, his father had a serious stroke, which left him partly paralyzed. “It was worse than death for him,” recalled Dr. Langer, who turned his interests to the nervous system around that time. “I think psychologically, I was trying to save him,” he said. “Then you end up in a Netflix show. It’s the sliding door and randomness of life that’s incredibly humbling.”

Dr. Langer, 57, lives with his wife, Dr. Nancy Lipsitz, 57, who is an anesthesiologist at Carnegie Hill Endoscopy, their daughter, Molly Langer, 17, and their Goldendoodles, Cooper and Stark, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Often, Dr. Lipsitz’s daughters from a previous marriage, Sydney and Rachel Lipsitz, both 25, will drop by for a visit, or Dr. Langer’s son, Ben Langer, 22, will be home from college.

BED, DOGS, BED A pawing on my shoulder from Cooper wakes me at 6. I throw on a T-shirt and sweats, which are pseudo pajamas, and take the dogs out — there’s a closed street with a small park on 91st Street — so they can do what they need to. I’m back in bed by 6:30. I don’t fall sleep, but I love to read. Every Sunday since Covid I’ve been getting an email from Farnam Street, a website offering content on life, leadership and happiness, curated by Shane Parrish. I look forward to this every week. Then I read The New York Times.

RETREAT We’re both up by 8:30. I make coffee, Pike Place from Starbucks. We also used Jack’s Stir Brew, which is a recent Covid casualty and has closed. I get back into bed and we both read until 10:30. I love politics and nonfiction. I just read Maria Konnikova’s “The Biggest Bluff,” about her journey to becoming a professional poker player, which was incredible, and “The Son,” by Philipp Meyer. At 11:30 we watch “Meet The Press.” This becomes a social place with my wife and a chance to retreat from the complexity of our olağan world where I’m not distracted.

CYCLE I pump on the Peloton from 11:30 to 12:30. I used to ride outdoors, but I fell and broke my scapula. Now I work out at home. Then I shower. I don’t eat often so I’ll have a bowl of cereal: Life or Raisin Bran with blueberries. Nancy eats like a bird. She’ll have a piece of fruit or something small. Our daughter, Molly, usually sleeps till noon, which is perfect for my schedule. I might make her eggs or we’ll go out for breakfast. We liked the Corner Cafe and Bakery, which has also closed. Now we go to Eat Pretty, which Molly found and is amazing. It’s very small, but they make things like mozzarella, tomato and basil sandwiches.

Waiting for a to-go breakfast with Molly and Ben Langer at Eat Pretty on the Upper East Side. Credit…Gili Benita for The New York Times

CENTRAL PARK If I don’t need to check on patients at the hospital, Nancy and I walk the dogs around the reservoir. We enter at Engineer’s Gate and we let them run with their leashes on, so they can get their legs warmed up. This is our time together. The weekends are so valuable. We’re not rushing off to museums or doing trendy things. We’re both really tired. During the week we leave the apartment by 6:15 or 6:30. I exhaust myself mentally during the week. You use up your bandwidth pretty quickly.

COUCH TIME I might watch some sports, though there’s less now. I’ll check email, make some calls to friends or family, or get back into bed and nap for an hour. Sometimes Nancy and I watch Netflix. Right now we’re watching that show about the chess player, which is really good. We love “The Crown” and “Game of Thrones,” which we’ve seen all the way through, twice.

“It’s the sliding door and randomness of life that’s incredibly humbling,” Dr. Sanger said of the opportunity to star in “Lenox Hill,” the Netflix documentary series. Credit…Gili Benita for The New York Times

TEQUILA SUNSET By 5 it’s time to open a bottle of wine, a California cabernet, or have some tequila. It’s a moment where the weekend is coming to an end. The light in the apartment is different. The sun sets and the room becomes cooler. I watch CNN and call my son, Ben, who is at Syracuse, and is very knowledgeable about tequila. He’s been teaching me about it. As a parent, having your children know more than you about something is really valuable to their self-confidence. This is a birçok thing to share with him. Sometimes I’ll send him the photo of the label of the wine I’m drinking just to tease him.

DINNER, DELIVERED A food discussion happens around 6. This is a production. I love Thai, Vietnamese and Indian; Nancy and Molly not so much. We all love sushi, but sometimes we’ve had too much. Usually we order from Suki Ichiro or Mughlai. Sometimes we end up ordering different things from different places. Since Covid, the doormen put the food deliveries in the elevator and I pick it up from there.

Dr. Langer, flanked by  Molly and Ben, on the way to a coffee shop. Sundays are a time for recharging from a stressful week.Credit…Gili Benita for The New York Times

FAMILY CHAT For the next hour we sit down and eat as a family. Mostly we talk about the news or the kids. This is Molly’s last semester at Riverdale, which she’s doing virtually, and is my last six months with her before she goes to Northwestern, so we talk about her expectations about ending school and starting college.

EARLY NIGHT Nancy takes the dogs out. She’s the master; they love her. I shower and get into bed by 9. The week starts fast and furious on Monday. I hate being tired. Nancy is constantly threatening to go to sleep and then it takes her two hours to get ready. I’m asleep before I even get into bed. In 30 seconds I’m done.

Sunday Routine readers can follow Dr. David Langer on Instagram @drdlanger or on Twitter @drdavidlanger.

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