Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day 2013

I'm usually not so openly emotional. But it's been a rough week, alcohol and chocolate aren't enough, and I need to release some emotions.

This is for all those who are without their dad today. Whether it is because of distance or disagreement, divorce or death, he is not with you for a reason, and I get it.

This is my first father's day without my Dad. It hasn't been an easy day and it's only lunchtime... Ok, let's be honest, it's been a shitty day and a shitty week. I have a sneaky suspicion next week won't be great either. 

I miss him. I really do. He isn't there anymore. And I took it for granted when he was. Even when I knew we didn't have him for much longer, I still took each day for granted. I didn't call as much as I should have. I didn't ask for the answers to all the questions tumbling around in my brain, even though he always knew the answer to everything. I didn't say "I love you" enough.

This isn't survivor's guilt or some other form of that. It is grief. It is knowing that even though I'm doing exactly what you always knew I would be best at, it breaks my heart that you don't get to see me do it.

This isn't a sympathy ploy either. I have been so blessed by my dad and by the other father figures in my life. If you ask me, I have had more than my fair share of amazing father figures. And they have all been wonderful! From the dad's of friends who always watched out for me and loved me as a daughter, the church leaders who were spiritual fathers, to the Coffee Guys who have been outstanding substitutes. My cup overflows with fatherly love and support. 

Nonetheless, today is a bittersweet day.

I think about Father's Days of the future and helping the father of my future children to celebrate but all the while knowing my kids will never know you. And you were so great with kids. Your whole being lit up when they were around. And I wish my kids would have been able to meet you.

So friends, as you celebrate this day with your dad, take time to remember those of us who are without our dads today and may be hurting a little more than usual. Remember how precious this time with your dad is, and don't take for granted these special moments. Life is fleeting.

Also, remember to honor the people who are stand-in dads: the step-dads, single moms, grandfathers, and all around good people who step up to the plate when a father figure is needed. They are stronger than any of us know. Being a dad is so much more than donating half of the DNA.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A New Day Dawns

The sky is always darkest before the dawn
When a "code blue" is called in the hospital it means that a patient is not breathing and that every doctor and nurse goes running to help that patient. As a newly minted doctor, when our second code blue was called last night I knew I was not going to be very helpful. But as I observed my colleagues attempt to save the patient's life, my focus and heart were drawn to the distraught parents weeping in the corner of the room.

I maneuvered toward them as best I could in the crowded room. They clung to each other as they wept over their child. I put my arms around the mother to help her stand strong for her child. I explained as best I could every detail to the father as the team struggled to save his baby. And I mustered all my strength to keep from weeping with them. For though I can't fathom the pain of losing a child, I too am losing a family member to cancer.

My father was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma last January. We have known for a while this was a possibility, but the news still stung. I won't lie, it took me 6 months of therapy to fully grasp all my emotions. And lately, as his prognosis has gotten shorter and his options fewer and his quality of life poorer, I find that I am distancing myself from the situation.

When I was home for Thanksgiving, my dad had a really bad day, which included some incontinence. Without thinking, I put him in the shower and began to clean. I didn't realize I had completely gone into "work-mode" and shut off all emotional ties. How terrible! It wasn't until later that I realized what I had done and how cold that must have seemed to him.

My dad was admitted to the hospital again yesterday for critical blood counts. And as I stood next to that family I wondered who would be standing next to my family when we were in the same situation, something not too far down the road. And then I thought about the families who lost loved ones in Newtown, CT, last week. Who was there with them? Who was with each life before it was taken too early?

I left the hospital with a heavy heart and I am writing this with a heavier one. Though I am on my way to see my family, I know this could be the last time I see my dad alive or as well as he is. And I remind myself we do not know the hour or the day, we can only enjoy the now.

I want to leave you with that. Enjoy the now. Don't waste it. Don't spend it fighting. Don't part without I love you's. Embrace it! Live in it! Be it!

Enjoy the now.

Monday, August 20, 2012

In the words of Martha Washington....

I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.

Sometimes I feel like I'm not really living; like I'm missing out on life; like I took a wrong turn somewhere...

I don't know how it happened. How I got here. How I seemingly fell asleep for so long in my own life.

This isn't the first time I've tried to write on this topic. I have a feeling it won't be the last either. It's not easy for me to write, I hate admitting my own insecurities. Nonetheless, I know I will have to confront it eventually.

I have spent the last 10 years of my life working toward this place I am now; more specifically I have spent the most recent 4 years becoming a doctor. During all of that work and adventure and learning it seems time has flown by and I forgot to grow up.

I still feel like I'm 18! And all my friends have grown up without me. Do you remember that movie "13 Going On 30"? You know, the one with Jennifer Garner where she suddenly wakes up 17 years later and she hasn't really lived her life yet. I feel like during the time I spent in college, traveling, applying to and surviving medical school everything kept going and I didn't change one bit.

I love my job! Don't think I don't. I am so grateful to wake up each morning and head off to the hospital to do what I love for people who truly need my help. But....

I am quickly on my way to 30 and I'm still single. And, let's be honest, I have very few prospects at this point... And now I have so few single friends, I am becoming a professional 3rd wheel!

Don't get me wrong, I love spending time with my friends and it brings me endless joy to see them happy with their significant other. I am so grateful that my friends have chosen to fall in love with and commit their to some pretty amazing people. It is really fun to spend time with my friends when I (and they) get along so well with their SO's.

And yet, I am bummed. I hate being the single one, ALWAYS the single one. Often the one to whom my friends say, "We want/wanted/would set you up with _____".... Lord knows I need the help. Nonetheless, night after night, I sit at home alone. I go to my friends' weddings alone. I send myself flowers for Valentine's Day.

Then, when I do finally come to the point of feeling almost at ease with my single status, a MILLION and one friends announce on Facebook that they're expecting. Crap! And just when I thought being single was ok...

I think of the amazing relationships and lives my friends are creating and wonder when will it happen for me? When will I find my love? Or have I already let it slip through my fingers? Have I missed out on the chance to build a family and be a mother, wife, lover? And if I have, am I ok with that?

And then, I take a deep breath and let it go.
I close that part of my heart and turn back to the task at hand.
There are children out there who need healing.
There are parents who need teaching.
There is work to be done.
I pick my head up, I pull my shoulders back, I put on my smile.
I put aside my grief.
I step back into my reality and remember why I am doing this.
I am Wonder Woman.
I am a Confident Woman.
I am a Doctor Woman.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Gentleman

I love this quote!
Couldn't figure out how to pin it...thus the shameless use of my blog to pin it.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

How to Fix Healthcare

I am incredibly appalled at this article!

Mr Lehrer clearly did not do his research. He has no idea how much a year of medical school costs; I WISH it was only $20,000 a year! Sheesh!!! He has no idea how much doctors really make. Maybe $200,000 is possibly earned in a given year by a primary care physician, but factoring in overhead costs and paying off loans there is no way that a basic PCP earns that much money.

And then there is this retort:

Wow! And by a real doctor too. I think he nailed it! Well almost all of it.

I know most people in the great US of A have concerns over their healthcare and the rising costs. If you know me via Facebook you have probably read a status update or two from me bemoaning my own issues with my insurance company. First they doubled my monthly payment because I was "prime baby-making age" (yes, those are the exact words). Then they decided to no longer cover my Well Woman visits to my doctor. Since when is it not recommended to get an annual physical? Most recently, they announced they would no longer cover "elective" blood work. Who decides what is "elective" or not? Gah!

Anywho, I don't see why so many people blame doctors. I understand that over the years they have gotten a bad name from a few "doctors" who believe it is ok to over charge and do unnecessary procedures. But most doctors just want to help. The majority of people in medicine don't do it for the money, though it is nice. If we were doing it for the money, we wouldn't be doing medicine because the initial costs are so high! I owed over $250,000 in loans on the day I graduated from medical school, and in just a few short weeks all those loans will begin to accrue interest at incredible rates of 6.8% and 8%.

I wish Mr Lehrer had addressed actual ways to lower healthcare costs other than having a government mandated payer system. If you want to lower healthcare costs in the US, stop whining and take care of yourself! It is so much cheaper in the long run to eat good food, exercise, and stay clean. The most common cause of high blood pressure is dehydration and extra weight. The most common reason for knee replacement/back surgery/gallbladder removal is obesity.

But I get it. Who wants to get their butt off the couch? Why should I take care of myself when no one else does? Why do I pay to go to the hospital when all the other people there are on Medicare/Medicaid and don't have to pay? Why would I drive to the hospital when I could just get a "free" ambulance to take me and my baby with diaper rash in? Why should I get a job when I can just get on disability and have the government pay my bills? Why should I take care of my children, they can walk and take care of themselves right?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why am I doing this again?

There are some days, many days where I question what I'm doing with my life.

When you're the "smart one", the one who doesn't have to study, the one who is always told "you should be a doctor", it seems as though your life is all laid out for you. And it was. Well sort of.

Then the doubts begin. You fail a test. You fail another test. You learn what rejection feels like. You realize how much you do not succeed in your endeavors. You hurt others around you because you keep trying harder and harder to succeed and neglect relationships. 

Work begins and never ends. Ever. All you do is work. And work. And keep working. And people keep asking things from you. Stupid things. And they ask idiotic questions. I mean, really really dumb things... like "How do I not get constipated?" and "How could I be pregnant?" and "Why aren't you giving me more Lortab?"

But then, then something happens to make it all worthwhile. Something that renews your faith in humanity and in your own self.

I was in the ED and picked up a patient with a "foot wound". It had been a long day already and I had a sinking feeling that this would be just another uncontrolled-diabetic-overweight-pain-pill-seeking-angry-patient. The patient was none of those things. And the wound on the foot was not trivial. The patient had seen several doctors in the previous week. As we discussed health history and the history of this foot wound, I began my physical examination. 

I am consistently made fun of in the ED because I do a full exam on all my patients. I keep telling myself that it's good for my education and I'm making myself a better doctor, but I really want to not do it all the same. 

Nonetheless, I did my full exam. When I touched the patient's felt like a piece of fragile bubble wrap. I immediately called surgery.

I got lucky. And, I guess, so did the patient. I could have just ignored the complaint or skimped on my examination. But I didn't. And my patient lived. 

So, to answer my question: I do it to save lives; for moments when my patient grabs my hand, looks me in the eye, and says, "Thank you. Thank you for helping me"; for the realization that I'm doing what I'm supposed to do. 
I apologize for the "woe-is-me" nature of this post. But I have a feeling I'm going to need this reminder in the future. Probably more than once.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Statue of Liberty (not in NYC)

Happy Independence Day on this the 4th of July, 2012!

I hope that all of the American readers are enjoying the full extent of backyard BBQ's, mindful memorials, and fun with friends and family and fireworks! And for those not in the US of A, I hope you are most certainly enjoying this lovely July day as well!

I promise that as soon as the local cable/internet supplier gets around to connecting me full time to the World Wide Web, I will return to regular blogging and promise to show you updates of my new bungalow and life in the Midwest.

For now, I'll regale you with a tale of history and stress relief and Americana.

I've been super busy orientating and working and trying to get the gas turned on at my bungalow... It's been a tad stressful. I've been resorting to going for walks late at night in my neighborhood after I get home from work because I can't watch TV or get online and it's so darn hot during the day!

On one of these walks, I ventured down the far side of a larger street and noticed a small school. When I arrived at the corner of said school, I was surprised to find the Statue of Liberty!
There she was! Standing there, in all her glory in front of this little school! After my adventures in NYC (here and here and here), imagine my surprise at finding the Lady in Tulsa, Oklahoma! WHAT???

Well, being the highly educated young woman I am, I did a little research into why this symbol of America was in my neighborhood. After asking the all-knowing Google, I learned that in the 1950's, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America, Boy Scout troops across the country erected over 200 replica statues in 39 different states. The theme of the project was "Strengthen the Arm of Liberty". The project was started by J.P. Whitaker of Kansas City. He commissioned a Chicago company to make the statues, and troops or cities across the nation were allowed to purchase them and the scouts would erect them.

Scouts erecting one such statue (circa 1951)
The statue I found has this plaque at its base:

 "With the faith and courage of their forefathers who made possible the freedom of these united states
The Boy Scouts of America
Dedicate this replica of the Statue of Liberty as a pledge of everlasting fidelity and loyalty
40th anniversary crusade to Strengthen the Arm of Liberty

Another statue is on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Little did I know, but I was just a few hours away from it!
Obviously, the Boy Scouts weren't the first to erect replicas of this iconic statue. In my researching, I found there are many such copies all over the world! One of the most well known would have to be the reproduction in Paris, France. 
Many others are found around Europe. There are several in Asia too. Including this one in Tokyo Bay, Tokyo, Japan.
Some of the other places in the US include a statue in the New York New York in Las Vegas
 There's even one made out of Legos in LegoLand!

 I know I've seen this one before, but I don't think I really ever acknowledged that it was there! 
Alki Beach, Seattle, Washington
 The Boy Scouts of America have a website where they are looking for pictures and locations of the statues they erected in the 1950's. They have a list of the different cities and locations where the replicas were registered. Check it out. There might be a statue in your city and you never even knew!
I didn't mean to get the sun in this pic, but I actually kind of like it.