Sunday, October 27, 2013

Veggies & Caffeine > Facebook

So, there are things I've been wanting to do, but have yet to actually accomplish. These things have been inspired by three of my most favorite people: Katie Mueller and Mallory Luke and Brianne Maxwell.

The first day we met. Freshmen at Hillsdale.

1. Eat healthier. Ispo facto...more raw food, less freezer food. This is inspired by me new basically vegan friend Katie. And necessary before I slip into even worse eating habits in residency. I need some quick go to recipes to rely on.

2. Limit Facebook in my life. Or, as my beautifully, intelligent sister has done, remove it altogether.

3. Drink better coffee and waste less coffee. (perhaps more superficial than the last two, but...) Thank you Bre for showing me how to bring my favorite coffee shop Populace Cafe into my own home. Bre can also be partially responsible for change number 2 as she has shared the benefits of being Facebook free with me.

SO, I've made 2/3 changes. I still have yet to see the fruits of my labor in cooking more veggies and microwaving less frozen pizzas and dinners. But, I'll do my best to keep you posted on my success and inevitable failures in trying smoothies...and I dare say, Brussels sprouts.

Thank you Mal, for the "if Mal can do it, I can do it" motivation

I've just deleted my Facebook account. This is perhaps the most difficult change, but I'm tired of shifting through my newsfeed late at night when I should be sleeping. I have little to no self control. It's embarrassing but true that I spend waaaay too much time on Facebook, and neglect other forms of communication I value much, much more. It's too dangerous for my procrastinating ways. And despite it really putting a cramp in my ability to log in to Spotify, Pandora will suffice until I get the kinks worked out.

My new pour over coffee "maker" which gets its idea credit from Bre, awesome mug credit from Mal, and store-where-I-bought-it credit from Populace. A filter filled with espresso ground coffee and a generous dash of pumpkin spice makes for a quick, one cup bit of energy on these brisk, fall mornings. Perhaps nutmeg with replace the pumpkin come wintertime.

Sunday, September 1, 2013


Leif Enger on Miracles in his book Peace Like a River.

     Let me say something about that word: miracle. For too long it's been used to characterize things or events that, though pleasant, are entirely normal. Peeping chicks at Easter time, spring generally, a clear sunrise after an overcast week--a miracle, people say, as if they've been educated from greeting cards. I'm sorry, but nope. Such things are worth our notice every day of the week, but to call them miracles evaporates the strength of the word.
     Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It's true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave--now there's a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of earth.
     My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles because they fear being changed--though ignoring them will change you also. Swede said another thing, too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here's what I saw. Here's how it went. Make of it what you will. 

Thanks Alison Klein for the book recommendation...and oh yeah, I still have your book. Love you!

Ironically, the aspect I love most about this excerpt is not the way it defines miracles, but rather that it briefly notes the beautiful intricacies of our everyday lives. We call them miracles; much like we say we love dinner or that it was the best day ever. Today it was important for me to remember to notice good things that happen every day. To notice them. To relish them. Not to call them miracles, but to remember that rather than be bogged down in the bad, we can choose to see the good. Ah, perspective.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Good Reminder

I am starting to become calloused. I realized that after finishing my ER rotation. I didn't think it would happen this soon. I'd say I'm about 60% too calloused.

I forget that we, as doctors (...future docs), provide a service. A relationship isn't a guarantee when you walk in to meet a patient. And by relationship I mean you give a little and so does the patient. It's nice when that happens and people are willing to work with you....but, ultimately, that's not a requirement of the patient. I need to remember that. Such is life.

But, today I had a heart melting experience. 

Walking out of the hospital today, I walked past an older gentleman who was also leaving. I turned to say hello, and unlike most people, he greeted me with a big, jolly," hello and how are you?" When I responded and asked how he was, he responded, "I'm great! I just had a CAT scan...It's gonna say my cancer is gone....I know it." 

Heart melted. Cancer was more than a word. It was a life, a name, and it had a favorite granddaughter who's name was also Amy. 

It's easy to walk by people in the hospital everyday and forget why they are there. Cancer has become a word on a page. Surgery has become no big deal. I forgot that it is a big deal. 

As if that wasn't enough, I also visited a patient as a friend, not a medical student. He had just had neck surgery and he also happened to be the general surgeon I spent a month with back in March. Just because we get to write all the big, fancy diagnoses down on paper every day, doesn't mean they don't happen to us. Doctors get sick. Surgeons need surgery. It was a little uncomfortable for me to be a visitor visiting a surgeon as the patient. The role reversal was a good reminder. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Board exam number 2 is coming...

...which means more blogging due to the necessary study breaks.

So, I've started making mojitos for the first time and decided I probably don't need, but could definitely use, a muddler. Which then led me to the Crate and Barrel website. Which then led me to think, "The first thing I am going to do when I have a real job is go shopping at Crate and Barrel."

For now, feel free to window shop with me.

And in all honestly, I probably won't actually wait until I have a "big girl" job.

And I didn't wait to buy these.I actually just ordered a whole set...!

I'm partial to the Pilsners glass, I'm certain I'd drink every one of my beers out of it
I've always wanted to make bulk....
A staple.

To keep the mint fresh for the mojitos of course! ...if I tried to grow it, I know it'd die.

I've always wanted a decanter. And a really big, fat wine glass.
This chair is just asking to be sat in. It also conveniently doubles as a twin bed .
Probably my favorite color. And it's on a couch!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


About a week ago, I bought two little planting kits, one for tomatoes, and another for cilantro and basil. I planted these teeny, tiny, little seeds and doubted their ability to grow. Seriously doubted. I was actually expecting them not to grow. Well, guess what? They are growing. And now I'm doubting their ability to actually grow tomatoes or basil or cilantro. They looked so dead.

I've also been home this week, we have a week off of school so wisely placed during the first week of May as if someone knew I'd need a personal holiday right now. It also happens to be the week that spring decided to arrive, in all its beauty I might add. I've been watching the leaves bud on the trees and the flowers bloom in a day by day progression. It's kind of amazing. And with time to think, I've been thinking about how important it is for me to see something dead and seemingly lifeless, bloom.

I picked up Blue Like Jazz this week and am rereading a book for the first time in my life. I  can feel God speaking through it directly to my heart, which has felt lifeless for quite some time. Not that I'm not happy, I am very, very happy. But, I've learned I can be happy while still feeling far from God. That scares me. I have a family and so many friends, a career that I love, and the security of living in a safe, sheltered life. They all so  frequently take the place of God.

Donald Miller writes about Christian spirituality in Blue Like Jazz free from an explanation. I am realizing that for almost 25 years now I've been looking for a way to explain God. To explain my relationship with Him. I can't do it. And I think I have just realized for the first time in my life that I don't need to be able to explain it for it to be real. Why I have demanded an explanation from myself for so long probably stems from a life in academia, from a life in a first world country,  with many first world problems that often have proposed first world solutions. But, faith is being certain of what we cannot see. Knowing truth as something that has happened to us in the depths of our soul, not as something we have figured out. How freeing. Today I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged by the seeds that have sprouted, the trees that are blooming, and my heart that feels as if it is in communication with God. I can't explain it, but it's real.

It's like trying to explain where jazz music comes from.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The 6 Month Rule

There is something magic that happens after you live in a new place for 6 months. 

It's been about 7 months since I moved to Bay City and it finally feels like I've settled in. Erin Cvengros and I have noticed a pattern when moving to an unfamiliar place, so therefore I think it's starting to become a rule. A rule that says you must wait 6 months before judging a new city or deciding definitively if you like it there.

I like it here. I like walking in the hospital and saying a familiar hello to nurses and doctors I recognize. I like knowing the other students comfortably enough that I feel like I could call them on a weekday to go grab dinner or a drink because I also like that I now know where my favorite places to eat and drink are located. I like that I feel comfortable in the role of a third year medical student. I like that I can go to a new rotation and not feel nervous about not knowing what to expect. I like that constantly changing environments are now what I expect. I like that I've learned to be more comfortable in my naive medical and life knowledge. I like that I'm adjusting to being asked questions on the fly. I like that I'm here. And I like that I don't wish it was over.

I like feeling comfortable in my own skin. Upon reflecting back to where I was 7 months ago, it's hard to imagine where I'll be 7 months from now. And also really encouraging. I'm enjoying the uncertainty in my life because I am happy with who I am and where I am. And because I've finally persevered through the magic 6 months of growing pains. Here's to the next year and a half before doing another trial of the 6 month rule!

And I'm also really enjoying OB-GYN. It's been a very good week. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Night Shifts

So this week I'm on "nights". Here at McLaren Bay Region, on the PCIM night shift, very little happens...especially for those in the role of medical student. So my nights have consisted of 1-2 hour Facetime chats with my family at home, discussing the cabbage soup diet and calorie counting. I've also started some presentations on hyponatremia and acid base disorders. And, Chicago Fire is a great new show if anyone's looking.

And I started a new book called Undaunted. It's written by Christine Caine. She and her husband started The A21 Campaign. Their organization works to prevent trafficing, protect the trafficed, prosecute the trafficers, and to partner with others to accomplish these goals. The trafficing mainly for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labor. Anyone remember the movie Taken?

Some quick facts from their website: the average victim is 12 years old, currently it's estimated that 27 million are enslaved, and only 1-2% of all victims are ever rescued.

I've only made it through the first couple of chapters. But sitting here without work to do is very uncomfortable when I think about 12 year old boys and girls, especially those I know personally, in situations I can't even begin to fathom. The website has 21 ways to get involved. Write a letter, Save your pennies, Get social, Get informed, Intern or volunteer, Be a Billboard, Send stuff, Pray, Request a speaker, Remember the 21st, Read their stories... Click here for more...

Sometimes I tell myself not to get involved. Sometimes I tell myself that I'm too busy. Sometimes I tell myself that if I get involved in every good cause I hear about then it'll be too much and I'll be spread to thin...Sometimes I tell myself I am doing enough already. Sometimes I tell myself I won't make a difference. Sometimes I actually try to do something.

So I think I smell another pancake dinner (my favorite fundraiser) in the near future. We can talk about it. We can write letters. We can collect things to send to victims. We can do something.

I wonder what nights are like for the millions enslaved. And then I remember the words of Christ, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world."

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Opposite of Baby Steps

In the past month or two it feels like I've taken a step that resembles the steps Neil Armstrong took on the moon. Steps where you decide to let your foot leave the ground and then you hang in a weightless, mid-stride moment. Awaiting the moment your foot finally meets the ground again is a little unsettling, but mostly just because it's new. But, taking that step feels so good.

Perhaps I shouldn't compare deciding to pursue pediatrics to taking steps on the moon. For whatever reason, it's the visual that came to mind. Over break I began the first step to residency applications, that is, I set up my audition rotations at pediatric hospitals in the Air Force. I'll be spending a month in Bethesda, Maryland at the Walter Reed Medical Center doing adolescent medicine. Then, I'll spend a month in San Antonio, TX at the Brook Army Medical Center with 2 weeks of pediatric infectious disease and 2 weeks of pediatric hematology/oncology. That sounds incredibly dull and businessy--but I'M SO EXCITED!! I think it might feel better than walking on the moon...sorry Neil. Perhaps medicine is my proverbial moon.

Over Christmas break I suddenly realized that I needed to set up these rotations. Which I'd been avoiding so as to avoid making the "final" decision between peds and family medicine. And I handled it like I handle most things--at the last minute. Right before I left for Haiti. Oh yeah, I went to Haiti! More on that later... As for the rotations, it has all worked out beautifully. As it always does. I feel so blessed. Especially when the Lord gives me conformation that this is part of the journey for which I was created. For example, I'll show you how this happened in just the last 24 hours.

Last night I spent some time with a 21 year old lady in the hospital. I have learned I find great joy in taking care of young ladies. By the way, I like the word lady. I don't think I'd call her a woman, but calling her a lady imparts the respect for which she and other females over the age of 16 are due. Or at least the respect I wish every single girl could have for herself.

In summary, she comes from a difficult home, one of drug use and abuse, has been in prison for the better part of the past year, and has been smoking, binge drinking, and experimenting with drugs since 14. She has a history of major depression and suicidal tendencies. She came into the hospital with a blood alcohol content of 0.43. That's really high. Levels over 0.40 have been associated with death from the toxicity. Yet, when I spoke with her last night, after some detox meds and R&R, I learned again that the person you read about in a chart should never be the end of the story. What I appreciated about her was that her vision of what she wants her life to look like is not dead. She hates the way she is and wants to change. Perhaps the beauty of our encounter is that I'm new enough at this that I'm naive enough to believer her. That's what a lot of people would tell me. But Christ doesn't give up on people. Of that I'm convinced. So I'm choosing to believer her. Obviously wanting something and then actually doing it are two different things. But, upon asking her about her goals she told me she wants to leave the city, start fresh, get her GED, go to college, major in zoology, move to Africa, work with children and animals, and, I quote, " ministry there." Woah. Big things. Awesome things.

The temptation then is to be more than the medical student on her case, the temptation to adopt her as a sister and take her into my home, is strong. I am learning to surrender each day, moment by moment, to God, to be ready for Him to use me. Because right now as a medical student, as a short term volunteer in Haiti, and as a physician in the future, I'm unable to be the social worker, pastor, nurse, case manager, dietitian, motivational speaker, confidant, teacher, friend, and health provider. But, I know that God can orchestrate that for her, and maybe if I'm lucky, I can play a small part.

I want to do big things. Big things really quickly. Like my new friend, it's frustrating when those big things seem so far away. Even impossible. At times, those desires turn into disappointments due to their unrealistic expectations or distant reality. I refuse, though, to let go of those desires. I pray she does, too.

 Instead, the less daunting approach and equally rewarding I think, is the approach Mother Theresa encourages:
Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. Do small things, with great love.