Thursday, February 21, 2013

On Life Changing Discoveries

I woke up to sleet pounding at my window, thundersnow, and a terribly raw throat.  There was no way today would turn out to be anything but a disaster.  And then I hit snooze.  For a full nine minutes, I fought myself over my attitude.  Do I get up mopey feeling like crap or do I suck it up and make the best of it?  At 5AM, moping seemed to take more energy so I figured I'd get up happy.  Fake it til you make it.  :) 

That was a good choice ... as the rest of the day would show.  Expecting the roads to be bad, I left about 20 minutes early.  A complete lack of slickness allowed me time to grab a vanilla spice latte ... full of caffeine and nice and warm on my throat.  Throughout the day, my voice came and went.  My motivation came and went.  My attitude came and went.  My brain even went a few times.  I'm not sure it is all fully back yet.  Medicine head and all is a real thing!  However, I'd say that given how I initially woke up, today turned out to be much more fulfilling than I initially imagined.

It was a day full of life changing discoveries.  I'm sure some of you will think I am being overly melodramatic or what have you ... but I promise you the things I am about to share with you have the ability to completely rock your world! 

#1 Discovery: Peeling a Banana
I hate eating the tops and bottoms of bananas.  They are always mushy and gross me out. As I was struggling to open a banana, one of the residents gave me a little tip.  Did you know that you can pinch the bottom end of a banana to get it open?  You don't need a knife.  You don't have to mushify it.  It just works.  Apparently, its how monkeys do it.  It works.  Its awesome. 

#2 Discovery: Shoe Tying
Now, I don't normally have a problem tying my shoes, but I do have a very serious problem tying my scrub pants in a way that leaves them feeling secure.  In fact, some of you may have heard of the infamous pants on the ground episode in the Wesley parking garage last fall.  Yeah. That. So today one of the attendings showed this video ... and I kid you not, I did not have to retie my pants a single time.  That my friends, is pretty much the best gift a girl who wears scrubs every day can ask for.  I did not spend a single moment this afternoon wondering when my pants were going to fall.  :)

#3 Discovery: Cotton Candy Machine
This one really wasn't life changing, but it was pretty darn fun.  We made cotton candy out of jolly ranchers this afternoon.  And by we, I don't mean me.  I tried and I think I only succeeded in nearly breaking it.  Apparently it takes a little bit of practice.  I think I love cotton candy.  Apparently this machine is available at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  If you need a delivery address, let me know and we can work something out.  Hint hint.

Monday, February 18, 2013

On Feeling Like Patootie and Developing Empathy

Empathy is an incredibly powerful emotion.  An important part of being a doctor is understanding what its like to be a patient.  Understanding what it feels like to have the flu.  Understanding what it feels like to be stuck in a holding room without the ability to leave and get a drink or a snack.  Understanding what its like to not know what is wrong with you.  Understanding what it feels like to have to wait for a phone call from the doctor's office.  Understanding what it feels like to not be able to breathe, etc etc etc.  I wish no one ever had to experience any of these ... but then I'd be jobless.  I feel like when I get the chance to experience them, its increasing my ability to be a more caring, well-rounded physician.

Apparently, its in the cards for me to have an empathy building day.  Today, I feel like crap.  I have a legit fever of 101.5 and I'm doing my best to simply let the fever play its course and not knock it down with drugs.  Fevers are the body's way of fighting infection, so I'm miserably letting my body fight.

While having a virus doesn't really require any healthcare beyond fluids and time, I only know that because I'm months away from being a doctor myself.  Five years ago, I would have called my doctor first thing simply to make sure I wasn't dying of ebola or something.  Now, I actively avoid making that call lest I find out I misdiagnosed myself with a virus that is actually ebola.  (Don't worry, I haven't been exposed to ebola.  I just find it one of the most amazing viruses on the planet and am absolutely fascinated and hope to get up close and personal with it some day.  I'm weird, I know.)

Not everyone has a doctor.  Not everyone has the money to make the simple appointment.  Not everyone has the ability to pay for a prescription in the off chance its a bacterial infection.

Why am I thinking about this today?  And by this, I mean the distribution of healthcare in the US.  This month, I'm working in the ER and I'm constantly reminded of what happens when primary care isn't made readily available to everyone.  I'm not advocating handouts and I'm not advocating any specific plan, I'm simply pointing out a terrible flaw in our system.  When people don't have access to basic primary care outpatient resources, they end up clogging the hospital system with problems that could have been thwarted much earlier.

Taking care of healthy people is much less expensive than taking care of sick people.  As a country, we have to find a way to take care of people before they get sick.  We owe it to ourselves and our children and our parents and everyone's collective future.  Somehow, we have to find a way to help our fellow humans who by chance or choice are in less than ideal circumstances and don't have the opportunities we have to receive the care we do.

Empathy.  I feel like patootie today and I'm thinking about how to keep others from feeling like this tomorrow.  :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday.  In case you're not familiar, it is the day marking the beginning of the Lenten season.

Today, I will go to mass and have ashes, the remnants of palm fronds from last year's Palm Sunday, placed on my forehead in the sign of the cross.  These are meant to remind me of my mortality and the need for repentance.  Sometimes, they even provide a chance for me to share my faith with others.  People always ask "what is on your forehead" and most of the time it ends with a mention of Ash Wednesday, however, there always seems to be someone who wants to dig deeper ... and if you ask me questions, I'll do my best to answer them.  Maybe I'll even use Stephen Colbert's "its basically the hand stamp for God's nightclub" line.

Today, I will fast.  Between now and Easter, I will abstain from meat on Fridays.

Today, and every day until Easter, I will be adding something new to my schedule and taking something out that I love.

What will you be doing for Lent?