Stolen from a friend’s Facebook status…
Life consists not in holding good cards but playing those you hold well. But sometimes… it feels like ’52 pickup’.
Stolen from a friend’s Facebook status…
Life consists not in holding good cards but playing those you hold well. But sometimes… it feels like ’52 pickup’.
Stolen from a friend, but a great quote and words that echo what I often tell medical students, incoming residents, and those interested in pursuing a career in surgery but worried about having a personal life. Don’t put your life on hold because you are waiting for the “right time”. For many things in life, waiting for the “right time” may mean you are waiting forever.
If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
~Mary Anne Radmacher
I’m curious what Dr Martin Luther King, Jr would have though about this quote in his time, given his relentless fight to change the existing reality of discrimination in America. That said, one could argue he fought to build a new system. Still seems fitting for today.
You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
~Richard Buckminster Fuller
There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have.
Sometimes my friends are geniuses…
Expressing your feelings, especially affirming sentiments, should not be reserved for the space between your ears.
For the past few years, Facebook has allowed its users to construct a “Year in Review”, full of highlights from the past year – photos and status updates that received the most “likes” or comments from other users. To be honest, I just did mine today because to me, a year in a review truly cannot be done until the year is virtually over. But before I ran the year in review, I wondered what it would look like, what would be featured, and what I could gather from that review…
Indeed, the past year has been one full of changes and challenges, of fulfillment and turmoil, of triumphs and terror. It has been punctuated with tremendous highs – graduating with a Masters in Public Health, traveling to and operating in Haiti, becoming an uncle again, enjoying my relationship with my significant other and growing into a better person as a result. The year has had its share of lows as well – the uncertainty of returning to general surgery training, readjusting to a “work/life” balance upset by medicine, feeling rusty and inadequate as a physician and surgeon, grappling with a challenging personal issue involving my family, and grasping and coming to terms with the immeasurable loss of my grandmother.
I certainly would not have survived without the love of my dearest friends, a love that became all too clear after the terrifying events of the Boston Marathon bombing and ensuing lockdown. There are moments in life where you wish for your family to be close by, to hug and to hold your parents and to have them tell you that everything will be okay. Sadly, my family does not live near Boston, and in those horrifying moments after the bombing, it was my friends that I turned to for comfort, support, and camaraderie. They are the rocks on which I rely for strength, the shoulders to cry on, and the ears to talk to. It has been said that friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and I like to think I’ve chosen wisely.
So yes… I wondered what that “year in review” would reveal. And then… I remembered why I love New Year’s Eve so much to begin with, because New Year’s Eve is not meant to be a time to only rewind, regret, and wonder what could have been. Reflecting on the year that has gone is great but only as a stepping stone for the year ahead. For those who don’t like New Year’s Eve, those who get bogged down in the mad dash of the holiday season and the need to figure out what to do, New Year’s Eve isn’t about the best party plans or sitting alone wallowing in self-pity. New Year’s Eve is a gift we are given each year, an opportunity to change the bad, to put our fears, regrets and sorrows behind us, and to start over again with a clean slate. New Year’s Eve is the ultimate chance to look ahead, not backward. So take a moment to reflect and ponder, generate your “year in review” and remind yourself of all the good times. Then ask yourself not what could have been – but what should be done. And once you have your answer, raise your glass and toast to what will be.
Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.
Last year on New Years Eve, I posted a few of Marc and Angel’s 30 Things to Start Doing for Yourself. Since it’s the day after Christmas, and for most of us that means we have many new things in our life to be thankful and grateful for, I figured it would be a good time to take a look inside and think about the things we can change.
“The moment you claim you know everything is the moment you’ve created a ceiling at the level of knowledge that you’re willing to learn.”
When I began my general surgery training five years ago as a lowly intern, it did not take long to meet “M”. M was one of the more senior registered nurses (RN) who worked the night shift on our surgical floor. On meeting M, I immediately liked this woman, and I knew that she would quickly became one of my favorite nurses. Tough and experienced, M is extremely smart and a better clinician than most interns, capable of picking up the slightest hint of something wrong with a patient before physicians would recognize anything was off. M is a “no nonsense” kind of nurse; she commanded respect when working the night shift and definitely did not put up with shenanigans from my fellow interns. She was particularly hard on other services that she felt didn’t “own” their patients as well as the general surgery residents do. But M also has an incredible sense of humor, and many nights during my night float month in February 2009 were spent laughing until our stomachs hurt.
After serving as a bedside nurse on a surgical floor for 25 years, M decided to make a career move. Our hospital is in the process of training nurses to gradually replace retiring operating room staff. M applied and much to her surprise was selected to be one of the new “intern” nurses. Leaving bedside nursing to jump head first into the world of the operating room can be daunting, inspiring, and incredibly rewarding – similar to what I remember experiencing as a surgical intern. M is beginning to chronicle her journey on her new blog, and so far I’m finding the nursing point of view of what I experience on a daily basis as a surgical resident to be absolutely fascinating. I can’t wait to actually work with her again in the operating room. Below is an excerpt from the first post on her blog; check out her journey if you like what you read.
The world of OR nursing takes a very special personality – a group that is not necessarily easy to break in to… who I am kidding… nurses tend to eat their young. This is a very sad, but very true statement. The fact of the matter is, if you cannot survive the stress of being a new nurse you won’t survive happily as an experienced nurse. The job never gets easier. You are put to the ultimate test on a daily basis. You need tough skin and to be able to think fast on your feet. Your decisions can be life altering to your patients. You will experience things no one outside the profession would ever believe. You will cry. You will question yourself daily. But, you will make a difference in every life you touch, in some way. You will be amazed and amused. You will learn to love cold coffee. You will develop a bladder the size of the Titanic. You may start swearing like a sailor. Your colleagues will become family. You learn to treasure life because you see so much tragedy… and you learn to celebrate the little things.
I am begging you to resist the pressures of pragmatism, of money, of the oily cowardice of diplomats and to stand up resolutely and proudly for humanity the world over, as your movement is pledged to do. Wave your Olympic flag with pride as we gay men and women wave our Rainbow flag with pride. Be brave enough to live up to the oaths and protocols of your movement.
~British actor/journalist/activist Stephen Fry, to the international community on the treatment of the LGBT community in Russia and the Sochi Olympics
If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you; I came to live out loud.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.
I think Herm and I would have been good friends.
Normally I would post a sarcastic someecard about turning a year old given that today is my birthday, however today’s post is a bit on the sad side since my 92 year old grandmother Gina passed away this past Thursday. Tomorrow’s regularly scheduled someecard will be post-poned until Tuesday, I promise it will be worth the wait.
Born in 1921, my nonna’s life is one for the history books. She first hand witnessed the tragedies of World War 2 and the Nazi retreat from Italy which claimed the lives of many in the Italian countryside. My mom and uncle were born during the aftermath of a depressed post-war Italy, which unfortunately claimed the life of their oldest brother and my nonna’s eldest son from a land mine that the Germans planted around Italy to stop the progress of Allied forces during the war. Emigrating to the United States and leaving behind the world she knew at nearly 40 years old was tough on my grandmother. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and heartache she must have lived with for the rest of her life, a feeling I’ve only glimpsed through the eyes of my mother on the occasions when we’ve returned to Italy. It’s a sorrow and a longing for a life that could have been but never was, in my opinion, a distinctly Italian feeling of loss for what never existed in the first place. If there’s a positive side, it’s that the experience served to harden her a bit and offered her the promise of a new life in America, one that has been filled with weddings, grandchildren and great grandchildren, good times and grand memories.
Like most Italian families, my grandfather was clearly the king of the castle and the one who wore the pants in the family, yet my nonna clearly picked out the pants – but I’m pretty sure she also ironed them and decided which shirt and shoes my nonno would wear with them. My nonna’s soft exterior and gentleness with her grandchildren often masked a core hardened by life and a tongue that was both quick and sharp. My grandmother was not a woman to be messed with; get her riled up or on her wrong side – and you best watch out. The rules in my grandparents’ house were clear, and spoiled brats wouldn’t be tolerated.
As is probably true of most Italian families, my fondest memories of my grandmother all center around family and food. Nonna Gina’s house was the glue that bonded us with my cousins on my mom’s side. The house was her castle, and her kitchen entirely her domain. When I was very young, my parents both worked, and my nonna and nonno served as daycare. My parents also felt it was important to retain our Italian heritage, and spending time with nonno and nonna was critically important. My sisters and I picked up the occasional Italian phrase from them during those days at their house, and spent a lot of time with them during the summers when school was out. From an early age, my sisters, my cousins and I were brought up on “pane e burro” and “peacock” (raw egg yolks whipped with sugar to which toasted bread is dunked in. I know it sounds gross – but it’s actually delicious, so dont knock it until you try it). In my very biased opinion, her pasta sauce and meatballs rival that of any Italian restaurant. My grandmother’s kitchen was small and her food simple but satisfying. Lasagna, pasta e fagioli, and pasta “stufata” were the staples of my childhood.
When my grandparents emigrated to the United States from Italy, they tried to assimilate my mom and my uncle as much as possible into American traditions. In the spirit of Americanization, my nonna always made a full traditional Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes – the whole nine yards. Thanksgiving was almost always celebrated with my grandparents, and the tradition continued even after my nonno passed away from lung cancer. The controlled chaos of those Thanksgiving Thursdays is one of my fondest memories, and the smells emanating from nonna’s kitchen will linger in my memory for the rest of my life. Dessert included many of the American staples like apple, pecan and pumpkin pie, but my nonna always made “cheesecake” on holidays, and Thanksgiving was no exception. Her cheesecake was actually a more light and fluffy lemon-ricotta pie, a recipe my nonna closely guarded. My grandmother did not keep recipe cards, and measurements were always “a pinch of this” or “a little of that”. If you asked her to tell you how much flour or sugar to add, she would say “about a cup” – but my nonna never owned measuring cups or spoons. No matter how hard we try, nonna’s recipes are nearly impossible to recreate.
I will be forever indebted to my grandmother for the care and compassion that she showed for my father, especially while he was sick. The love she showed for a son that wasn’t her own flesh and blood amazes me to this day. During my dad’s last hospitalization, she stood watch in his hospital room with the rest of us, and the pain, sorrow, and anguish on her face when he died and during his funeral highlighted the depth of her love for him.
Throughout her life, my grandmother faced hardship and suffering and continually rose to the occasion, experiences that shaped her into the soft on the outside but tough on the inside woman that she was. She is fondly remembered by her son and daughter, her six grandchildren and her five great grandchildren.
To Nonna Gina, may she rest in peace.
“DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition. This places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage. The differentiation demeans the couple, whose moral and sexual choices the Constitution protects, see Lawrence, 539 U. S. 558, and whose relationship the State has sought to dignify. And it humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”
“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others.”
“There is a ‘careful consideration’ standard: In determining whether a law is motivated by improper animus or purpose, discriminations of an unusual character especially require careful consideration. DOMA cannot survive under these principles.”
I sat around Saturday at Villa Francesca feeling frustrated and defeated, and annoyed that I couldn’t be helping as much as I should be. I mean, this is Haiti after all! I came here with a skill, people at St Luke’s knew I was coming, and yet things were essentially a giant dead end cluster.
And then something magical happened. I can imagine it is much like discovering an oasis in the desert. A whole new team of people arrived from the United States. And everything changed.
An ER physician and an anesthesiologist from Indiana. A general surgeon, a vascular surgeon, and an urologist from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Critical care, long term care, and outpatient urology clinic nurses from Mayo Clinic in Arizona. They arrived, with large suitcases filled with supplies, and were eager to get to work. We marched over to the hospital, barged into the surgical suite, and began to organize what would become our supply area for the week. The urology team went off to set up their clinic, and the rest of us inspected what was available and what would be needed.
The “team” brought with them such enthusiasm that was quite frankly – infectious. We figured out how and where we would patients would be held pre-op, where all the IV start sets were, where patients would go post-operatively. The ED doc (Donny) and the anesthesiologist (Art) got to work on the anesthesia machine, getting together supplies and medicines to perform spinal blocks, and gathering endotracheal tubes for general anesthesia. The general surgeon (Alyssa), the vascular surgeon (Jim) and I made quick work of what was in the OR and what the team had brought with them for supplies. Sutures, drapes, sponges, instrument kits, prep kits… organized and arranged quickly and orderly.
We accomplished together what I would never have been able to do by myself. And I felt that in the end, the day had not been all together wasted. We arrived at Villa Francesca to a feast of pasta. It turned out the urology team had finished early, went to the market to shop, and started on dinner while we were organizing in the OR. I guess sometimes life really does hand you some lemons… and you need some helping hands to make lemonade.