Thursday, August 28, 2008

a man born blind.

I reviewed his chart before I entered the room. Admitted to the hospital last night, his lab tests were dismal. Low WBCs. Anemia. Urine sedimentation. Bilateral lung infiltrates. Blood cultures pending, although they would likely be positive. All the evidence pointed to severe pneumonia & sepsis. His body would shut down without medical intervention. Infection would take over, stopping kidney filtration, dropping his blood pressure, & finally affecting the other important organs inside his Earthly cage of skin, muscle, & bone.

As I stood up to put the blue binder back in the metal holder, I noticed a sign on the sliding glass door. Printed haphazardly on a sheet of white computer paper were the words “Patient is blind & deaf”. An announcement to each passerby: FEEL SORRY FOR THE MAN INSIDE THIS ROOM.

The blue checkered curtain that now hung between his sleeping body & my own ran vertically from floor to ceiling. Hung to protect the patient’s privacy; it was a bit of an oxymoron, based on the scarlet letter that hung just two feet from where I was standing.

His half opened mouth & emaciated limbs greeted me at the edge of the curtain. Tangled in a pile of sterilized white blankets he looked peaceful with legs bent & strung sideways beneath the mound of cloth that was meant to keep him warm. Long, thin arms were folded across his chest, moving slowly with the rise & fall of his respirations. Silent, labored breathing filled the room alongside the beeps of his IV drip & low whistle of the oxygen supply that was slowly feeding his ever-failing lungs.

At 52, his hair had already grayed. His protruding jaw & tightly skinned lips exposed the poor dentition that had carried him through his meals of applesauce & bananas since infancy. His skin was shiny, hands strangers to the rigors of a life of labor & physical work. With overgrown cuticles, the small pieces of lint & dirt that nestled themselves underneath his fingernails were the only evidence of mobility I could find.

But really, I didn’t blame him. He’d been born deaf & blind. Unable to see the face of his mother, who was now clearly gone from his life. His deafness had prevented him from hearing the sweet sounds of music, the laughter of children, and joys of the Holiday Season. Imagine. Never hearing Christmas bells, the harmonious tune of flute, or the soft “I love you” of a mother’s whisper.

At that moment, though, I was grateful he was deaf. Grateful that his condition prevented him from hearing the constant beeps & whistles & bells that fill the sterile corridors of the hospital. Grateful that his condition protected his confidence from hearing the nurses’ sour-faced pity about his gravid & quickly decompensating state. And I was grateful that his eyes didn’t carry visual stimuli to his brain; that he was blind to the metal bed cage his body rested in, blind to the worn white walls of his hospital room, and unable to see the look of shame in my own eyes when I first moved the curtain aside.

You see, I judged him. Immediately. I questioned his usefulness in this world. I questioned what God may have been thinking when he allowed the creation of an innocent child who would enjoy a life of only darkness & silence. I questioned the government’s provision of this man with monthly checks that undoubtedly skipped the intended recipient & went into the bank account of his then-absent caregiver. And I questioned my opposition to a child from my own womb that could someday be born without the joy of two of life’s most gratifying senses.

But at that moment, God intervened. And I was overcome with emotion. Careful not to contaminate my face, I had no choice but to let the few drops escape from the corners my eyes. They landed on the lapel of my pressed white coat.

The sounds of beeps & whistles became the shouts of vendors & chatter of people along a street in Jerusalem. The blue checkered curtain, a wooden fence & the tile floor a cobblestone street, my feeble patients bed had turned into a hand-woven rug. It was a busy street. And suddenly…

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" J
esus said, "You're asking the wrong question.
You're looking for someone to blame.
There is no such cause-effect here.
Look instead for what God can do.
We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.
When night falls, the workday is over.
For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light.
I am the world's Light."

He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva,
rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said,
"Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent").
The man went and washed—and saw.
–John 9:1-9

And then I knew. Look instead for what God can do. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (verse 3, NIV).

This man with nothing to say, this patient with nothing to give, reminded me of God’s promise to us. That this body is not eternal, this rib cage that holds our beating hearts will not be the vessel that carries us into eternity. That this life is not the end—we have something much greater to look forward to. And that these joys we experience each day are gifts.

Most of all, however, that this man has been able see. His entire life, He’s been seeing the world’s Light. And the uncomprehendable babbles that later came from this man’s mouth just might have been praises—gratitude to a God who is finally taking him home.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

best occupational report

What do you do for a living?
"I'm a hillman--I sit on the hill"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

the first day.

arrive at hospital by 7:30am.
stand by door of medical staff office for 30 minutes.
get mentally lost in hospital corridors with guide.
call P.A. Brandon to follow for remainder of the day.
10:15am: take history from toothless man who happens to be your first patient; write soap note about how patient was entirely noncomplaint, told me to "go away", went to sleep 5 times during the H&P interview, & smelled like rotten garbage.
11:15am: see second patient, a 80 year old man who hit on me.
12:25pm: meet WV woman in elevator whose name is "Bunny"
each salad from the cafeteria where the lunch lady refused to give me more then 1/2 tablespoon cottage cheese.
12:35pm: physically get lost in hospital on my way back to the library from the cafeteria.
12:45pm: find library; scarf down 1/2 tablespoon cottage cheese & small salad.
1:15pm: search 2 hospital floors for attending, who is no where to be found
2pm: meet two other WV woman, whose names were "Barbie" & "Star"
3:27pm: let off for the day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

and then the tears came...

i'm off. already. and its only 4:27pm. its kind of glorious, actually. this rotation should be interesting, to say the least. a learning experience, i am enjoyment level throughout the journey is what is still to be determined.

to say i'm still emotional about moving here is a bit of an understatement. i was more emotional yesterday than i have been in years--and after jon left i am fairly certain that i not only raised Kleenex stock value, but i probably also swallowed my body weight in snot & tears. so yes, i did greet the mirror this morning with red, swollen eyes (good thing it was picture day, huh?) & a stuffed up nose. and i also did meet the tissue box this morning (& this afternoon) with just a few more tears that needed to escape (notice the mound of kleenex).

i'm learning how to depend on God again. i looked at my "daily inspiration" calendar today and mr. max lucado had this to say....

When you recognize God as Creator, you will admire him.

When you recognize his wisdom, you will learn from him.

When you discover his strength, you will rely on him.

But only when he saves you will you worship him...

Before your rescue, you could easily keep God at a distance...

Then came the storm...Despair fell like a fog...

In your heart, you knew there was no exit...

Suddenly you are left with one option: God.

And i'm at that one option. i'm at that point--between a rock & a hard place where the only option i have is to turn my heart over to Him, to surrender my soul, my tears, and my heart...and discover the grace & comfort His embrace can bring.

but it is the surrendering part that i have trouble with--the giving up & letting go where i get hung-up.

i don't have an option this time. i can't quit school at this point (although days like today i gladly would). jon can't move from NC. and my heart is wretching because this is not what i had envisioned for i'm here. left with my kleenex box & my only option: GOD.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

new land

the move has been made. new land. new city. new people. new hospital. new apartment....and one very sad me.

jon left wv today to drive back home. and NC really has become home over the past 3 months. and what a BLESSING this summer together has been. it solidified our marriage, our commitment to eachother, and our ability to tolerate each other for more than 3 days at a time :). it was a breath of fresh air after so much time apart. we are praying that these next 2 years, with all their unknown events, go quickly. and we are praying even more that God will open doors to a residency where we can be together & carry out His plan for us.

it is all a bit intimidating....and a lot emotional, at least for me today. jon is so supportive--i don't deserve him most of the time...but that is for another post entirely :)

i'm excited to post pictures of this very weird-hick-town in the upcoming weeks/months. jon & i laughed yesterday when we walked into the grocery store and heard in the thickest WV accents "y'all come back now, y'hear??". weird billboards. weird store names. weird road-planning....but people are kind. life is slow-paced. and the hospital should be fun....

since parents will probably want to see, here are some pictures of the WV homestead until May 2009....

{the view from the entry hallway}

Thursday, August 21, 2008

where did the time go?

people told me i'd be asking that question. but i didn't believe them. my elementary-school head couldn't wrap itself around the fact that, someday, summers wouldn't last 5 years. and Christmas break wouldn't be all about Santa & grandma's chocolate cookies. and then my middle-school brain couldn't wrap itself around the fact that someday i'd want to have a break from my friends for longer then 3 days at a time....or that just like recess ended when 5th grade closed & bras entered my closet, summer break would someday end & a husband would enter my life. and even in high school, i still didn't understand the full extent of just how fast life would fly by me.

but it does. it does fly. it does fly fast.

and so now i'm left wondering where the time went. the time when these two women blossomed. the time when they were still wearing Cinderella panties & eating Mac&Cheese each day for lunch. the time when their world's were still innocent & pure--when their friends weren't falling for cultural norms & when their minds weren't struggling with the temptations that high school inevitable brings. i'm wondering where the time went. the time when pink frills & oversized bows filled their closet. the time when their walls were painted with rainbows & trees. the time when they'd fit in my lap.

and i have a feeling that life will only start to spin faster. and soon enough, i'll be saying this about my own kids, reflecting on these days & how fast they are going.

thank the Lord this life doesn't end when our hearts stop beating. :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

best record of allergies

"Patient is allergic to cocaine...
causes him to 'breakout in handcuffs'"
-Physician record of patient allergies

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

daily {pixels}

so i've been gone. literally. ...and even if i hadn't been physically gone, my gosh i've been mentally absent! but back to business. back to this "series" of blog posts i swore i'd start. back to reality.

and the reality is that i have to go back to WV in 6 days. i have to sleep without my husband for more days than not for two more years. i have to move on from this place (home now) to another strange city. and the reality is that i'll miss this place. a lot, actually.

and the reality is that i spend far too much time online looking at pictures. my pictures. other peoples pictures. have you even discovered Flickr yet?? seriously??

this lady has my camera. the bottom-of-the-line digital fancy camera. and i want her pictures. in fact, she is one of those people that i might be friends with just so my life could be documented in such a way as this. (okay, i wouldn't ever do that. at least i don't think so....) and i'm just in love with life through her lens...

take a peek

...and then go take some pictures!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

best family history

"My mom died of old timers."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

best chief complaint

"i ate a handful of ecstacy because i thought it was popcorn.
i had popcorn in one hand & ecstacy in the other
& i accidentally ate the wrong one."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

daily [pixels]

so i figured i'd start a new post. a series, if you will. about photography. since it seems like the "thing to do" (see here & here). and you know, i'm such a trend follower anyways...(?).

i told my mom last year that if i had to pick one material item that changed my life, i'd choose my camera. and oddly enough, i'd still back up that statement today. because it totally did. it has opened doors of opportunity for me...deepened relationships...and captured unforgettable moments.

which reminds me that i desparately need to get it cleaned.

anyhow. i follow quite a few photographers whose work i drool over. i mean...whose work i admire; yes, yes admire is what i meant. and i'm finding more to drool over each day..... most professionals have fancy equipment that would send my wallet to the deepest layer of the earth. and most of them are all edu-dicated & stuffs about the inner workings of those foreign boxes they hold in front of their eyes.

but not me. i took one film photo class in college that i consider entirely worthless. and i don't have a super fancy high tech space-age camera to show off.

the point, though, isn't the rank of that box i hold in front of my eyeballs. it isn't about how superb my editing software is. and it certainly isn't about how many business calls i get for photo shoots. the point is that i'm capturing moments. lives, stilled in time.

check out this article. i'm pretty sure you'll give your camera a hug after you read it. and while you're at it, i'll take a hug too, actually :)

Monday, August 04, 2008

wide load.

i woke up late on saturday. well, late for my 24 year old self....early for my former 15 year old self. anyways, the point is that i woke up. worked out. ate breakfast. checked my email. and decided that i was headed out on the town. jon was gone until saturday night @ a friends wedding, meaning that i had the entire day to myself. and although i was missing him, there were some things i've been wanting to do that he, quite frankly, isn't so excited about.

so i pointed my car in the direction of the furniture thrift store. i've been looking for some old chairs for my photo sessions. and unfortunately all the chairs at the furniture thrift store (great place, by the way, if i had an unlimited budget & endless space) were too expensive & came in multiples. i just needed 3.

onto the next thrift store. and funny thing that i was disappointed to find that i live in the south. actually, i think i live in the armpit of the south. when i walked into the thrift store, i was met with fake flowers. LOTS of them. like a giant venus fly trap, they trapped me inside & sucked the life out of me. okay, they didn't. but i barely escaped. after i passed the flowers, my old aunt verna's kitchen collection from 1960 hit me in the face. after a quick trip to the thrift doctor, i was ready to sit down. but all i could find were seats for two.

but as soon as i took a second look at all those thrift store loveseats, i realied that they were not the seats i thought they were. they were fat people seats--made to accomodate a wider load. and there were LOTS of them.


when i went to the flea market a little later on, i was once again attacked by an ENTIRE STORE of fake flowers. and there were "do not touch" signs everywhere--as if your fingers might scar that fine plastic made in china.

weird., again.

this armpit living is not what i'm used to. and i think i don't wnat to get used to it....

Saturday, August 02, 2008

up in the air.

i promised more perspective on my Boards...and this whole experience, really. because perspective right now, for me, is something that is in constant flux--ebbing & flowing, rising & setting each day as events change.

at this point in our lives, our future is about as concrete as the mud in my backyard. God has been SO GOOD to us and we've been blessed beyond Earthly measure for many, many things that we certainly don't deserve. looking back on the past 3 years is a true testament to the soverign grace of a Father who has the best in mind for His children. Our prayers--every last one of them--has been answered to an extent above & beyond what we originally prayed for. and yet, one of the greatest struggles of my faith has been to maintain the perspective that God still has the best in mind for His children and will still answer prayers for our future. because things seem so uncertain to us, because i haven't found an accurate crystal ball yet at the Dollar Store, because it seems that the world itself is in flux right now, and becuase i am a need-to-know-er, the FUTURE seems especially daunting right now.

but here is what we do know:
1. i will be back in wv until may of 2009, with a 1 month break (2 weeks vacation, 2 weeks elective clerkship) in december.
2. i will have the freedom to choose the location of my rotations after may 2009, with certain requirements as to the speciality i rotate with.
3. if all goes well, i will graduate may 29, 2010.
4. jon will likely be headed overseas may/june 2009.
5. jon's ETS date is in june 2010.
6. my residency will start in july 2010.
7. jon & i are going to do everything in our power (which really is only prayer) to live together after may 2009 + deployment.

the field of medicine is a little scary right now. the "big shots" at the AMA & ACOP are strictly regulating the number of positions they fund each year (via the government) for residencies. and these strict regulations aren't changing much as the number of schools & the number of students in each class increase. and unfortunately for us, this coincides with the financial regulations of loan repayment without the option of forebearance and decreasing salary-to-cost-of-living ratio's for residency salaries.

to sum it up: the "right" residency for us may be more difficult to find that it would have been 10 years ago.

of course, there is lots to consider in the equation: army commitment, relocation, continued education, lifestyle availability during residency, location, proximity to family/friends, and community. and while all of this will certainly be calculated in the whole equation when we sit down to talk over our options, its ultimately not up to us.

my Board scores are looked at by every residency program director. i'll be scrutinized for why i didn't do better. why i didn't study harder. and how i justify those 3 numbers beside my name. in short, THEY ARE IMPORTANT. and so, although i'm praising the high Heavens that i passed, i'm also confident that God is up to something.

i just wanted to pass. i just wanted to see a 400 next to my name on my score sheet. and although i did pass and i did see something higher than a 400 next to my name on my score sheet, the numbers that met my eyes there weren't as high as i would have liked them. weren't as high as i thought they should be--would be--for the insane number of hours that i studied.

but God answered my prayer to pass.

and now i'm left with a new perspective. i kind of had a feeling that i would pass. i've been studying since March. but by how much i would pass was the question--one that was answered with a large dose of Grace & reassurance....

i know that God will open doors for us. He will make space in the residency He has already set aside for me. He will reveal His plan for our lives, careers, & continued schooling. and He will do it on his timeline. my score on the Boards does reflect my knowledge--but certainly doesn't reflect my character. and i think that by Him answering my prayer to pass...but surprising me with my lower-than-expected score was His way of keeping me HUMBLE...keeping me/us dependent on HIM for our future plans.

because when all is said-and-done, we have no choice but to look to Him anyways. to lay ourselves at the foot of the Cross and praise the mercies he makes new every morning. and like the consistent sunrise that brings warmth each morning, God's consistent blessings will--i am certain--be lit in our lives with time. i did pass. i passed this test. i passed this *stage* of school. but i hope and pray that we have a long future together--one that will constantly need to be surrendered to the all-Knowing.

and this was a perfect reminder that to us, life is up in the air....but then again, so is God :)

Friday, August 01, 2008


its 8pm. i've been on the couch for the past 1.5 hours. and on my feet for the 10 hours before that. after my eyes popped open at 5am this morning from a horrible nightmare, my day actually didn't turn out that bad...good, in fact.

and as i'm sitting here listening to the neighbor kids jump on their new (giant) trampoline with their dad, squeals of delight resonating between the backdoors of our shared yards, i'm thinking about our home. and the squeals that may someday be resonating from our backyard (but not yet folks, don't get ahead of yourselves). and its exciting, really. the future. exciting and scary all at the same time.

i've always been a "knower". my mom said that when i was younger, i needed a run-down of the days schedule from the get-go in the morning. i wanted to know what was happening. so my little 4 year old brain could mentally plan for it. {which could explain my heartbroken reaction to the movie Bambi--the totally unexpected loss of Bambi's mama threw my little brain for a loop}. and although my 4 year old brain has grown into a 24 year old brain, i still like to know what is happening in my day from the get-go.
enter the Ultimate Gonga Big Kahuna of all To-Do Lists: The Daily Docket. Oh Moses I am excited to fill this out. my organizing brain squeals with joy at the sight of it. and i'm a bit ashamed to admit that instead of reading the umpteen chapters that i am supposed to get through in the next 3 weeks, i've been looking at blogs. reading about families. and going*green*. and being efficient and frugal and productive. and this blog has won my attention. and depending on the content of the next few weeks of posts, may even make my "daily" list--which is unfortunately getting ridiculously long.
okay. and so did this blog. and this one.
i'm feeling very domestic lately. maybe its just because i'm actually living with my husband and my full "wife-ly" role is finally coming out of the woodwork. or maybe its because there is a growing desire to provide a safe, happy, & healthy environment for us to live in. i'm an odd bird in many ways: i love cleaning. i love organizing. and there are even days that i love folding laundry. i think its the productivity of it all--the swell of satisfaction that almost bursts when i look around my clean house smelling of Pinesol & Downy and realize that i'm totally comfortable here. its a nice feeling, you know? and i certainly don't think jon minds the fact that i break out the yellow cleaning gloves at 5am sometimes when he leaves for work (although lets face it, those 'times' are few & far between).

but this whole domestic thing makes me want to do more. makes me want to BE BETTER about the things that matter most to me. i haven't read my Bible in at least a couple of weeks. i haven't worked out in the morning like i had planned at the beginning of the summer. and i haven't taken the time to finish (much less start) any of the books on my summer reading list. i have cards to write. gifts to send. chapters to read. tests to take. forms to fill out. things to make. memories to document. and relationships to build.

so starts my quest to simplify. to organize. and to be more conscious of how i spend my i direct my thoughts...what i put in my body...and the ways in which i empty my wallet.

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