Friday, January 27, 2012

don't rub your face

at the office, when i'm particularly frustrated with a patient, or my nurse, or my receptionist, i rub my face.

almost in an effort to rub my face off.

the ladies think it's hilarious to see if they can make me rub my face. it's in such a motion that i end up with my hands in my hair, rubbing my temples with the heels of my hands.

i'm sure it's quite them.

however, rubbing one's face in the office is not a great idea. first, it really messes up my fabulous makeup. so i recreated the motion so that my eyes weren't involved. plus, i wear contacts, and if i even hear the mention of pink eye, i contract it. and....there are a lot of germs in my office. so three reasons why i shouldn't rub my face.

i am a family doctor. i am fortunate enough to practice in a community where it is not only possible for me to do fun things like remove toenails and diagnose strep throat...but i get to do really neat things like deliver babies.

yes. i can barely believe it myself when i say that. today...i saw patients that were...pregnant, had diabetes, had high blood pressure, wanted to talk about their eating disorder, depressed, suicidal, happy to be alive after a brush with death, dealing with back pain, and working on weight loss. obviously not all in one patient.

i didn't start my career wanting to go to medical school. in fact, when i went to college, i started as a nursing major. i was blessed to attend the university that i really wanted to go to. i went to indiana university. this was a huge deal in my family...where i knew who bobby knight was before i knew who the president was. i was the first one in my immediate family to go to college...though, my younger sister went to college, too...i was just first because i was the oldest. however, when i was little, i remember being fascinated by science. i would spend hours looking over books and learning about dinosaurs and fossils and the life cycles of beetles and stars and galaxies.

i vividly remember, after my grandma got sick, sitting on the floor next to her while she did her peritoneal dialysis. grandma was a MASH nurse in WWII. she was the valedictorian of her college class. she was a first lieutenant in the army. she used to tell me stories about operating on wounded soldiers under apple trees in france, and how she and grandpa were married amid the ruins of a french city. they spent their honeymoon on the french riviera. my grandpa was a corporal, and a medic with the army. we often joked that grandma ordered grandpa to marry her...since she outranked him. my grandma was the head of the nursing school in our city, and i remember my mom talking about when i was born...when grandma came to visit me, those nurses really straightened up, she used to say. i always thought i would be a nurse. i always knew i would do something in health care.

during my sophomore year in college, my advisor (who i actually thought was a bonehead), said that given my scores on my entrance exams, i should really think about changing my major to "something more challenging." see? he was a bonehead. trust me...there is very little out there that is more challenging than nursing. by this time, i was working as a CNA in a nursing home, and i knew the things the nurses had to deal with on a very personal level. however, i did really like the idea of pursuing something closer to my science passion, so i changed my nursing major to biology and chemistry.

i loved the courses. i loved everything about jordan hall. the skylights, the plants in the lobby. the bagel cart! and, honestly, as much as i griped about it, i loved organic chemistry. i loved them all.

except statistics. i still loathe statistics.

i had to tell my parents. i had to tell them that i was thinking about medical school, or graduate school...but i was terrified. my dad and i have talked about it since then....what parent is honestly going to be upset if their daughter or son tells them they want to be a doctor? seriously? but i was so worried that i'd be letting down the family by turning my back on nursing. however, i told them and they were so completely supportive.

i studied for and took the MCAT, thinking that if i did okay, then i'd apply for medical school. i did. then i thought that if i got some interviews, then i'd go and see how it went. i ended up only interviewing at indiana university school of medicine, and somehow, someway, i got in.

i know that someway was Him. i know now that there was a plan all along.

medical school wasn't easy. and neither was residency. but all during the time that i was going through school, partying at college, and living like a heathen, He was really there, guiding me, opening doors that i walked through and closing doors that weren't meant for me.

so...the most important reason that i shouldn't rub my face is that i was put in this position for a reason. not only do i not want to mess up my makeup and make myself sick, but i am here for a reason. i meet these people and i become a part of their lives. i cry when they die. i laugh when they giggle. i tickle baby toes and console wise souls. i feel a baby take its very first breath. and i occasionally hold a person's hand when they take their last breath on this earth.

it may not have been a plan all along in my mind, but it was in His. so i rub my face a little less frequently these days. i try to breathe, and remember, i was put here in this earth to do many things, including all of this. and being a heathen didn't get me was Him knowing that eventually, i'd turn all that bad stuff into something good. i'm so thankful He didn't give up on me, or rub His face in spite of me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

quote unquote

my entire life, i have loved movies. okay, i don't just mean "oscar worthy" movies either. and maybe this is normal for all kids, but i vividly remember being five or six, with my sister being about two years old, (and there is video evidence somewhere on a home movie) and we are sitting in my grandma's greenhouse, having a tea party, and reciting the words to a cartoon movie.

word for word.

inflection and all.

i remember growing up, there were a few movies that we could watch over and over and over. license to drive. the princess bride. adventures in babysitting. tommy boy. to this day, i know them by heart.

i always loved that phrase..."by heart."

one of the things that made me fall in love with my husband is his uncanny ability to insert movie quotes into conversations and make them fit. or his random impressions of movie characters (he does a great impression of ace ventura, without all the hair gel). even now, we can carry on hours-long conversations in nothing but movie quotes.

i am not a movie expert, by any means. i don't claim to know anymore than what i learned in a film class in college, which was mostly comparing american literature to on-screen adaptations. best part of that class...i took it my senior year so i got to write my senior thesis (despite being a biology/chem major) on the comparison of the book and movie fear and loathing in las vegas, and its accuracy as a portrayal of american culture.

apparently, this is a trait we have passed on to our children.

i swear to you, if i ever have to watch 101 dalmatians again, I'M going to break out with spots. that was piper's movie of choice when she was about 2 years old. we had to replace the original DVD because it was so worn. seriously. she has stuffed animals named pongo and baby pongo. still.

lately, dade's favorite is elf. okay, i do love this movie. i honestly could watch it on almost a daily basis. about a week or so before christmas, i introduced the kids to this movie. i thought, "gee, this will be nice. i can sit down with the kids and enjoy a movie that isn't completely animated for a change. rock on!"

a few days later, i heard dade upstairs playing and he kept saying something about "take the books back?!?" and he would just keep repeating it. (which, i know is another kid-ism. he repeats things about seven million times until you say "uh-huh" just to acknowledge that he's said it. there are no exceptions to this rule.) for about three hours, i couldn't figure out where i had heard that from. it was starting to drive me crazy until i finally figured it out. it's from the scene with walter hobbs (the father in the movie), and the nun. walter is telling the nun that he's taking back books donated to the church because no payment was received. and the nun says, "you're taking the books back? but the children love the books," and she sort of puts her hands together and crinkles her eyes for emphasis.

my son, who is three years old, has begun following in his father's footsteps. so he runs around the house all day long, usually shouting, "BUT THE CHILDREN LOVE THE BOOKS!"

i think it's safe to say that our talent for movie quotes has been genetically passed on. i hope he and piper someday find mates that enjoy that as much as jay and i enjoy each other's.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

three is a magical number

this is the necklace that my mom wore, every day, until the day she passed away. there was a big to-do surrounding this necklace, even after mom died. and understandably so. everyone wanted it. it was so much a part of mom. aunt linda wanted it, because during the time that mom was sick, she wore it. it's what aunt linda wanted to remember her by. dad wanted it also. despite the fact that mom and dad had their differences prior to mom's diagnosis with lou gehrig's disease, they had really made amends prior to her passing.

and...the story behind the necklace is that the three hearts represented dad, my sister, and mom.

however, the further i get into my faith, and the more i grow as an individual, i find that schoolhouse rock had it right....three really is a magic number.

to aunt linda, the three hearts represented mom, grandma, and aunt linda herself. grandpa had passed away when i was twelve years old. and grandma and aunt linda had been the primary caregivers to mom while i was in medical school. (mom had adamantly refused for me to take time off from school to come and care for her. at the time that she was diagnosed, i was just beginning my third year of medical school. mom would have rather cut her own leg off than for me not to achieve my dream....verbatim. however, i did move my rotations around and took off eight weeks during the months of december and january of 2005 into 2006, and it was on december 28, 2005 that she passed away.) so for aunt linda, it was a symbol of the three of them, and the love and camaraderie they had always had.

to dad, it represented mom's love for the three of us, and our family. it represented all our hopes, dreams, frustrations, blessings, and love.

to my sister and i, it just represented mom. as difficult a decision as it was, my sister and i decided to keep it for us. there wasn't much else that we had, physical-wise. we had mom and dad's wedding set and their class rings. however, those were a symbol of mom and dad together. there wasn't anything else in the world that was physical and a representation of how mom felt about all of us as a family.

while i was in medical school and transitioning into residency, and my sister was living 3000 miles away with her (now ex) husband, we asked dad to hang on to it for safe-keeping.

he gave it back to me today.

and now, this simple necklace, with three delicate hearts, all similar and yet differently colored, is in my possession. i'm almost afraid to wear it. and now, this potential heirloom takes on even more of a significance than it ever has before. dad, my sister, and me. husband, my daughter, and my son.

three...the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

three...the past, the present, and the Eternity.

three...the Birth, the Death, and the Resurrection.

three...knowing, losing, and meeting again in Heaven., laughing, and loving.

three really is a magic number.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

sk8r grrls

last night was piper's first skating party. now, for anyone who isn't from where i'm from, skating parties are a really big deal in our elementary schools.

the place were the skating parties are held is called Bell's, and this is the same place where the skating parties were held when i was a kid. it's been redone some since then, but the premise is always the same....there is a mob at the front door waiting to get in, there is a huge line to rent skates, and there are the sights and smells of kids and popcorn and hot dogs.

the smell is still the same as when i was last there some fifteen to twenty years ago. it hit me when i walked in the door, and i was immediately transported back to the somewhat-awkward preteen girl with knees and elbows inappropriately large for my scrawny body. the bathroom floors are still way too slick to wear skates and go to the bathroom with any kind of grace, and there is still a speed skater club that meets to practice after the party is over. and there are still the kids that hug the walls trying not to fall, as well as what we call "suicide skaters" that go full speed through crowds with no regard for who or what is in their way. there are the kids that are clearly too uncomfortable in their bodies as of yet, and there are still the pretty girls and handsome boys in cliques that laugh and joke and play.

this brings back so many memories from my childhood...memories i wasn't prepared for but that i'm so thankful i re-experienced. my mom used to go with us to the skating parties, and i remember her skating with us. she had even gotten my sister and i our own skates when we were little, which we used in the garage and driveway. we got pretty good at that time, being able to skate backwards, cross our feet to make turns, and spinning and jumping.

this was the third of the year for the kids, but the first we went to. i originally, actually, wasn't going to go, because there is always work to be done...charts needing finished, laundry needing folded, etc. but yesterday, i thought...forget it! i'm going!

jay likes to skate. well, he likes to blade. it's apparently way different from skating. now, i can skate but i have never been able to blade. so i rented skates and we all together took the kids to their first skating event.

piper did pretty well, actually, and by the end of the night, she was skating either by herself, or with one of us, or with this little boy in her class. and it was awesome. i only fell once, but i will be honest...falling hurts a lot more as an adult than i remember it hurting as a kid!

i hope mom was there with us. i really and truly enjoyed the point that i think we'll be going a lot more often, during family skate times. the best time i've had in a long time. i would love to start skating again. not only is it fun (if you don't fall too much), but it's a good workout, and what a neat thing we could do as a family!

Piper, after she got the hang of things.

Last night was "tee-pee" night...the kids did a game where they had to tee-pee the whole floor, and then see if the boys or girls could clean up more of it. They loved it. And the girls won. Of course!

Piper skating with the little boy in her class. Sorry it's so blurry...they were in motion!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

learning to let go...

it's been a little while since i've truly written my last blog.

between christmas, new years, the day that mom passed away, working, call, delivering a's been a little hectic.

i know that my anxiety and worry have gotten the best of me lately. the hardest lesson that i've been faced with in my life, by far, is learning to let go.

learning to let go means different things to different people, and it does this with me as well. not only do i have to let go of things that i can't control, but i have to let go of people in my life, let go of relationships that are not healthy, let go of worry, let go of family, and let go of myself.

these are extremely difficult for me to do. i have always been a type A personality. the most common thing i got scolded for as a child was being bossy. i have always been my own harshest critic, and i have always demanded more of myself than i expect of others. i'm not sure what that makes me. perhaps that's why i went into family medicine.

truly, though, i enjoy helping other people. i really do. i enjoy doing things for others, just for the fun of it. not always, i know. but most of the time.

however, when it's quiet, and i'm left to my own thoughts, i am a worrier. i plan. i have a hard time being spontaneous. i try to imagine every situation and scenario and plan for all possible outcomes. learning to let the worry go, and plan but not over analyze, has been an extremely difficult and on-going task. i know i drive my husband and kids and coworkers crazy. i know. i need to learn to be more flexible.

most of all, i need to learn to trust in God's plan. i realize that worrying in such a way takes away the glory of God, and the trust i need to place in Him for all things to happen in his time. that's not to say that we don't plan, and save, and be organized. but it's so hard for me to find the fine line between the two sometimes. i have to constantly remind myself to keep things on the side of trusting Him, and not trusting myself too much.

this is truly something i've struggled with my entire life. being my own harsh critic is example number one. constantly second-guessing myself, and striving to the point of nausea to be a better person in other people's eyes is the most self-destructive trait i have. and i think there is a difference between striving to improve and never accepting yourself. i have, for the most part, finally become comfortable with the person that i am. i'm continuing to learn about myself, about my tendencies, and about how they can help and hurt me and the people around me.

i have to give things over to God, and trust that He will guide me and that He has a plan for the things in my life. instead of being critical of myself, i have to learn to see the good that i have brought to others and myself. and there is evidence all around the smile of my children, in the embrace of my husband, in the purr of my kittens, in the voices of my patients when they feel better or have a baby or simply say, "thank you."

i know that ultimately, when i finally learn to let go, that is when i will receive.