Thursday, September 27, 2012

on many different things

The past few days have been absolutely filled with work - and it has been amazing!  I absolutely love it ... even when I am holding retractors and standing in positions I'm not sure are allowed for extended periods of time according to the Geneva Convention.  :)  I am so utterly thrilled and amazed at the fact I even get to be in the OR that I'm willing to stand however I need to for however long I need to, even when it means I can't feel my arms anymore (that is a very exciting moment because it means the pain is gone!).  Yours truly after a 14 hour day ... that's a very happy face!

Sometimes, there are a few moments of free time.  Not free time go and do whatever you want but free time while the resident or attending answers a page or writes a note.  And this relates to the blog because it allows me one or two minutes of thinking time. Sometimes I am thinking about an upcoming surgery or treatment plan ... but when my feet really hurt or I'm really tired or hungry my mind tends to wander a bit.  The following few entries are/will be what I've been pondering.

On Writing ...

It takes practice.  Lots and lots of practice.  More than a few people have asked me about writing ... how to get started, what to write about, etc etc etc.  I have been writing and editing for years.  I can remember sitting at Florence Park Library right before second grade started.  Over the summer, I was supposed to write four book reports.  I respect my mother immensely for forcing (don't kid yourself, I'm pretty sure she held me down to accomplish this, I have been known to have been in need of an attitude adjustment) me to create an excellent series of reports.  We practiced good handwriting and sentence structure way back then and it hasn't stopped since.  

First, I make a concerted effort to free write every day.  I don't edit.  I don't reread.  I just write, simply putting words onto paper in a somewhat coherent fashion.  If I can't think of anything to write about, then I write about how I don't have anything to write about.  I try to say "I have writers block" in new and different ways.  Frequently, when rereading journal entries, these are my favorites.   

Step two, if you're interested in writing for an audience, is to write about things you're passionate about.  Passion comes through words, just like it does in an painting.  Write about what interests you ... not what you think others want to hear about.  Be brave.  Say something you believe in and then explain why.  Be kind.  Don't knock others viewpoints.  Just be passionate ... about what you believe and why ... not about why you disagree with what others believe.

Finally, edit.  EDit.  EDIt.  EDIT.  I'm not sure how to get that across adequately.  Read and reread what you've written.  Read it out loud.  Think about the words you've used and if they are the best words to convey your meaning.  Confirm you have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  Check to see if your sentences are different lengths.  Please, pretty please with sugar on it, make sure your grammar and spelling are correct.  If you aren't sure, make use of google.  Find out how to properly say what you want to say and it will make a difference. 

And that, my friends, is how you start writing.  Later, after you have the basics down, you can learn how to break the rules ... a la creating words like "whens."

PS: You can almost always delete the word that.
PPS: Make sure your verb tenses agree.
PPPS: I'm absolutely terrified this is the most hypocritical post rote with spelling and grammatical errors and verb tense non-agreement and the like.  Feel free to point out my errors.  I deserve it.  Perhaps I've even purposely hid an error to see if anyone can find it.  Or perhaps not.  :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Happiness is like a kiss.  You must share it to enjoy it.
Bernard Meltzer

A truer quote may never have been spoken.  Happiness in the solitude of one's own home when alone is fine ... but it is not the same happiness as that which is shared with others.  Having lived where I was not always lucky enough to have family or friends near me at all times, I've experienced this first hand.  Bear with me as I go on a bit of a roundabout trip here tonight.  I promise I'll tie it all together in the end.

I love to be happy.  I try to always have a smile on my face.  It makes my life easier.  I hope it eases the pain for others from time to time as well.  A well placed smile or nod on an elevator can go miles to changing someone's day.

Today, I was feeling sort of defeated.  I had been standing for hours (literally).  I was thirsty.  I had a headache.  Then, within the course of an hour or so, two nurses asked how I was doing and I responded happily (because really, if you're in a bad mood, you can totally trick yourself into believing you are happy).  One said she was glad I said I was having a good day ... that I had a nice aura about me.  It was strange that simply being asked how I was in passing was enough to elevate my mood.  I was having a good day.  Even though I was tired and thirsty and had a headache, I was still in and out of the OR.  I was getting to scrub on cases.  I was getting to see cool things.  A million and one people would give a limb to be in the position I was in.  

Its easy for me to pass through days without taking the time to truly care.  Its moments like this afternoon that remind me how easy caring is.  It doesn't take a thirty minute conversation.  It doesn't even take 30 seconds.  Sometimes, just a friendly glance can make the difference.  

I took this picture of Ollie last weekend.  She looks like one happy dog.  She looks joyful, like everything in the world is completely perfect.  Heck - she'd just been on a walk and had a bone and was getting petted.  It doesn't get much better than that as a golden retriever.  Her life isn't perfect though.  What you can't see in the background is Mabel barking at her and pulling on her tail.  I hope that when people look at me, regardless of what is going on in the background of my life, they get the same feeling as I get when I look at Ollie.  

I've read the book about love languages.  I'm not entirely sure which "one" is mine.  I do remember the book stated something about those lucky people who were fortunate enough to be shown all the love languages as a child might not have just one.  So, Mom and Dad, good job.  Instead of me wanting just one thing, I want all five.  ;) I kid.  Sort of.  If I had to pick one, it would probably be gifts.  I love getting and giving gifts.  They don't have to be expensive.  They don't have to be grand.  Sometimes, just a card is amazing.  Sometimes, showing up to academics or an exam and having a friend show up with a diet coke for you is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  Total shout out to Amanda and Lacey and Kristine for all the diet cokes you've brought me.  :)

If you're a friend of mine with a birthday this week, stop reading here.  :)  Now that boards are over and my application is submitted (I got my first interview today) I have a little bit of extra time on my hands. Not a lot, but a little.  I have enough time that I can take the time to send some cards.  To show some kindness back to so many of you who have been so kind to me recently.  While I hope everyone who should be getting a card soon enjoys it, I so thoroughly enjoyed the process of picking them out and mailing them that the rest is just icing on the birthday cake.  I thought these cards were hilarious.  They are all going to funny people.  I hope you all get a kick out of them too.  The bottom left card is a music card, so I've attached the video of the inside beneath.  I laughed out loud when I found it.

So, in this super duper round about way, this is what makes me happy.  Sharing my happiness with others.  And writing is one of my ways I can share my happiness ... so there you go.  :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

My Final Caringbridge Post

written and posted on 9/16/12

I grew up wondering when.  There were days, maybe weeks, but never months that when didn't cross my mind.  When would Lo get sick? When would Lo get better?  When would be have to leave Disneyland and return to the hotel to do a breathing treatment?  When would I be the important one?  When would there be a cure for CF?  When would I figure out what I was supposed to do?  When would I figure out who I was supposed to be?  When would I lose my sister?  When would I lose my best friend?

The progression of when questions continues to amaze me.  As I look back over the course of my life, I appreciate the evolution of whens from naive innocence to teenage angst to adult acceptance.  The when road is the most telling path of my life.  Its the path with the most twists and turns and calamities and missteps.  Its also the path that made me who I am today.  

One of the whens has been when should we update caringbridge.  Should it come from mom?  Should it come from me?  When is Lo ill enough to let people know?  When do people want to know?  When do we want people to know?  I've so enjoyed being able to assist in documenting Lo's journey through transplants and health and hospice and even death.  

To some, death is a scary word.  A word that shouldn't be used because of its finality.  To me, it is simply the answer to another when.  When will Lo no longer be in pain?  To me, death is no more a finality than birth (which is never considered a finality).  Just like birth, it is simply a step from one stage of life to the next.  It is a beautiful step ... one full of peace and acceptance.  The two have many similarities. 

Lately, for me, I have wondered when I will start writing again.  I miss updating caringbridge.  For nearly 6 years, it was a somewhat regular outlet.  In between updates, I wrote on a blog called Dissecting Jane.  For a myriad of reasons, I decided to end DJ earlier this year.  However, now, I feel it is time to begin to write again.  I want to write about things I'm passionate about ... medicine and cooking and reading and exercise and family and memories and a million other things.  Its time to open up a new forum, a new place to share my ideas.  I hope some of you will follow me to Just Jane ( and continue to read and comment.  I want to create a place where everyone feels free to share their responses and feelings about whatever I choose to write about.  And I want everyone to feel free to give me ideas about things to write about.  :)

Mom, Dad, and I are all doing okay.  We love to talk about Lo.  Most of the time, it involves lots of laughter.  There are times it involves lots of tears.  We are all grieving in our own way in our own time.  We are navigating this new normal ... this new lack of when.  Time is a gift.  Enjoy it.  Hug the ones you love.  Erase your hate.  Embrace acceptance.  Not knowing when ... and not having to think about when ... can make you forget to care.  Never forget that today is someone's last day.  Treat everyday as if it were your own last day.  Smile.  Cry.  Enjoy the moment.  


PS: whens isn't a real word.  I know this.  I don't think it deserves an apostrophe because it isn't showing possession and its not a conjunction.  I just like it.  :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Everything Begins Anew

Its been too long since I last wrote.  I write everyday.  However, twitter and facebook should never count for writing.  The days of Dissecting Jane ended early last summer for a myriad of reasons.  Updates to Caring Bridge no longer seem appropriate.  I keep a journal and I do write in it regularly, but I just enjoy sharing my thoughts too much for that to be my only outlet.  Where might I be going with this?  Its time for me to start blogging again ... albeit in a slightly different format than what I've done before.

I'm not going to feel guilty if I don't write for a week.  I'm not going to post something just to say I did. Dissecting Jane was more of an online journal chronicling my day to day life.  I've grown, personally and professionally, since the first post of DJ nearly 5 years ago.  I love being able to look back and see that progression happening via old posts.  Hopefully, my writing and ideas will reflect that growth.

Sometimes, I'll post a run down of everything I did over the weekend.  Sometimes, that might be funny.  Sometimes, that might be inane.  No one needs to know everything.  Sometimes, I might share an article I've read that I find particularly poignant or inspiring.  I'll share my thoughts on topics I find interesting and I hope, in return, you'll share your thoughts with me.