Tuesday, November 30, 2010

playdates & dinosaurs.

we played dinosaurs for 20 minutes.
my leg fell asleep squatting on the hard tile floor.
his little red wagon had been wheeled out to the nurses station.
his room empty, dark, lonely.
his mom disappeared days ago.
she left him with a little dinosaur.

i made the dinosaur eat his toes.
and then he shared his socks with the plastic creature.

he asked for water.
i filled up a girly cup covered with silver sparkles.
this four-year-old boy didn't care.
he bounced balloons on my face.
we had a dinosaur fight.

the nurses wheeled his little red wagon back to room #253.
where he curled up, plastic dinosaur in hand.
and went to sleep, alone.

it was the best playdate i've had in months.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


so since this whole residency-thing started, i've felt a little...overwhelmed.


that might be an understatement.

i've been wandering around the hospital, as one of 'those interns' (you know, the one you certainly don't want to be) with patient discharge summaries STAPLED TO MY BACK. the janitor ran after me in the hallway and asked if i mean for a packet of papers to be dangling from my sweater. good thing the elevator FULL OF PEOPLE didn't mention anything. that would have been embarassing.


and although i'm handling it day-by-day, inside i'm a mess most of the time. the emotional breakdown has not yet approached but boy-howdy has it been close...

no tears have been shed in the making of this intern.

i confessed to jon tonight that i feel like my life is, once again, on hold. you know, come to think of it, this medicine adventure actually does require a lot of sacrifice. i was excited to learn before & just okay spending my days & nights cooped up in a little cabin in the middle of West Virginia. But now. now that he is home. now that we have a house. now that we have friends and wow, feel sort of --do i dare say it?--SETTLED, now i'm feeling the annoying stabs of this sacrifice.

certainly, don't get me wrong...i actually like what i'm doing. at 2:30 this morning when i was wandering the halls of the hospital, rummy & tired & trying to round on my last patients & discipline rambunctious teenagers that happened to think it was party-time, i whispered to myself, hey...this is kind of fun.

and it was.

i braved the 12-inches of new-fallen snow, and came home. after working 31 hours straight. made soup. and slept. until it was time for dinner. which is when i threw in the towel (literally) & we ordered a pizza. i plopped myself on the couch & painted my toenails... we watched Harry Potter while i caught up on emails & blogs. and in short, the night couldn't have been more perfect. more normal. more this-is-just-what-i-needed.

come to think of it, life right now is just-what-i-need. everyday, really. it is exhausting. i'm getting gray hairs. my dark circles around my eyes have been accessorized with a generous dose of pink eye over the last two weeks (stupid asthma kid who coughed in my face!!!). the dirty laundry piled up to explosive levels...and then was left in the washer too long so it soured. the leftovers have gone bad in the fridge. and my cleaning list has been covered in dust-bunnies. but this, right now, is right where God wants me. wants us.

and we're okay with that. 31-hour-call included.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

psalm 139.

i volunteered to pick up a new patient. and, thinking it would be an easy add-on to my already bulging list, i picked her. or rather, she picked me.

i opened her chart to find a "doctor's orders" section already 1-inch thick. daunting. and while most patients are admitted for a miniature list of problems, hers spanned five pages & well-exceeded the longest five-paragraph essays i have in my repertoire.


while i likely should have welcomed such a learning opportunity, i did not. it wasn't for lack of interest, or rarity, or even compassion. mostly, it was because before i'd even met the patient, i already hated her problems. i might even surmise to say that i hated her.

i hated her rare genetic disorder--the one that could never be fixed & would make our efforts embarrasingly futile.
i decided i didn't like her parents, such selfishness they had keeping her alive all these years, trapped in a dying body.
i couldn't find the empathy for her delays, caused by genetic chromosomal abnormalities so severe that she would never walk, never talk, never communicate in an audible or interpretable way.
i was annoyed by all the "failures" listed next to her vital organs & processes: developmental failure, renal failure, liver failure. the first from her genes, the last from the 'food' we'd pumped into her veins, her PICC line, her stomach tube.
i was mad at God--wondering why he didn't just take her, quickly, painlessly; mad because we all had to watch her suffer.
and i was sickened by all this 'modern' medicine that we so proudly claimed was helping her.

...or was it?

and two hours later i walked into her room. mom attentive at her bedside, lovingly stroking her course black hair while the nurses cleaned the diarrhea that covered her lower half & was smeared about the sheets beneath her. the infection that raged in her colon was the culprit--another diagnosis to add to the list. she moaned. she moved. she breathed, occassionally. and all the while that loving, petite pretty mommy rested cheek to cheek with this emaciated, groaning patient--loving her the only way she knew how.

i'd only walked in to tell her we were shoving a catheter up her daughter's urethra to get the pee out of her atonic bladder--news delivered in the kindest way i could muster.

as luck would have it, i walked out 10 minutes later in tears, ashamed.


i'd missed the boat. overshot the target. fallen off the bandwagon. and i'd totally, misjudged.

praise songs to Jesus played in the background.
a Bible rested on the bedstand.
a prayer journal overturned on the meal tray.

they are a Psalm 139 believing family. a family who believes this little black haired, nonverbal, diarrhea covered little girl is a gift from Christ himself. who believes that He renews their strength every morning, every evening, and at every moment in between. they are a family who is learning the joy of suffering, finding His Will in sorrow, & navigating this difficult choice to let their daughter continue to live day-by-day. they are a family who believes that they weren't chosen because of what God knew they could give, but because of what they could receive through the fragile spirit of this little miracle.

and suddenly, somewhere between the bed and the hallway, i realized i've been right & wrong all along. i was right: modern medicine isn't helping her. in fact, in many ways, we're making her sick: aspiration pneumonia from the surgery, antibiotics from the pneumonia, colon infections from the antibiotics, diarrhea from the antibiotics,  urine infection from the dirrhea...

but oh! how i was wrong in thinking that this is all about healing. i was wrong in thinking that i, we, medicine is the only one with something to offer.

afterall, the truth is that she's the one helping us. helping us learn. helping us grow. and somehow in the middle of the moans and the process of her problems, teaching us how to believe.

believe in miracles.
believe in hope.
believe in survival.
believe in Psalm 139.  

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
-Psalm 139: 13-17

Saturday, November 13, 2010

fanny pack.

the waistbands of my pants are all stretched out. and i didn't figure out why until tonight.

originally, i'd thought that poptarts & yogurt for dinner might be the culprit. but surely my body knows that when the hospital cafeteria is closed, calories don't count....

and when i tried to pee tonight & my pants nearly flopped in the toilet, i finally realized that perhaps it is the TEN POUNDS of technology attached to my waistband.


left to right: name badge. pager. on-call cell phone. personal cell phone.
not pictured: 2 pens. clipboard. stack of reading material. water bottle.

as a HILARIOUS side note about my pager...i asked tayte (sister, 17 years old) what it was.

an insulin pump? i didn't know you were diabetic!

a gum case? seriously!?!?!?!? they make those?

a cell phone? wait...where are the buttons?

and no folks, she'd never seen one before. neither had the paint boy at Home Depot who asked me what the heck that black thing was i happened to be wearing on my belt.

which is either a sure-fire sign that i'm getting old. or that i need a fanny pack.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

if this isn't just ridiculous...

...then i'm not sure what is.

SERIOUSLY!?! JULY!?!?!?! where the heck has time gone? and who stole all the calendar months?

needless to say, i guess time has, indeed, passed. and in the meantime, a lot has changed for us. a lot for the good. a lot for the stressful and busy and work-filled and God-waiting and ....well, a lot has changed. and we are here, finally back at "home" in the Pacific Northwest. adjusting. settling. and enjoying.

it feels so so good to be back. to have full seasons. crispy fall leaves currently covering the ground. forecasted snow in the next couple of weeks. and the potential to skip through the mountains (real! mountains!) this winter just makes me giddy.

life has been too full to summarize. but like all our stories, they'll come out one way or another. and part of the beauty of life is that some stories are locked in little boxes that play music with dancing ballerina's when we open them. in the meantime, they'll rest safe inside our memories. and for us, that is okay right now. it has to be.

we've been busy. like really busy. but not any more busy than the rest of America, i'm sure. and right now, for us, busy is good. like, really good. we're soaking it in. and although i wish i had a few more hours in the day to read and blog and exercise and make wholesome, healthy meals, i'm taking it all with a grain of salt--knowing full well that life will change and a new season will be upon us shortly, waiting with its own musical ballerina box for us to open & enjoy.

shortly after our last blog post, we left north carolina. not without living in an apartment with only an air mattress, 2 spoons, 3 bowls & 4 plates for 16 days though. oh yes, and did i mention a broken air condition in 900-something percent humidity? (at least it felt that way...). the movers came, boxed up all our stuff and hauled it away. we were left with just us. a bottle of wine. a few bags of popcorn. a pantry to empty out. an airmattress. the aforementioned dishes. and a whole-lotta potential & excitement about what was coming 'round the bend next.

and you know, we had a reason to be excited. life, for the first time, was aligning for us. this was, of course, by choice. and brave, generous, ever-supportive jon make that sacrifice for me. which still boggles my mind each morning when i get up to trudge to the hospital once again. so he made that choice for us...which, for the first time in 3.5 years of marriage, is letting us be together.

jon stood in his last formation. and humbly accepted an award for working so so hard over the previous 12 months of deployment. he saluted for the last time as an active duty captain...and we walked away & into starbucks. where else would we have celebrated this crazy heart-breaking-breath-taking milestone?
we packed up the car. ehem...JAM packed the car and bid adieu to friends i hope cross our paths again (many, many times again!)...and we were off. i have a folder packed with photos. of landscapes. and red vines bags. and (disgusting, ate-for-the-first-time-in-a-decade) mcdonalds fries. and state signs.

for now, though, i'll just leave you with my feet. they've taken me a lot of places since i snapped this photo on our way in to new life.

we arrived in Washington and ransacked jon's parents house for about a month. before our own house was ready. i started work just 3 days after we pulled into the town we'd call home...and have been busy every since.

i guess they don't call it intern year for nothing.

but moral of the story is that i am LOVING my job. i'm loving my days. even the one like today, where the clock at this moment marks hour #18 that i've been in the hospital...with 12 more hours to go until i can finally roll down the windows of my car & hope i make it home in one piece.

so in summary, we are ALIVE. and we are loving life right now. loving being settled, close to incredible people, plugged in & involved at church, blindly making our way through the 24-hour-sequences God gives us to be salt & light...and fill up dancing ballerina boxes of memories.

more to come. more to read. more stories to share. more pictures to download. there is more certainly more.

and it will come. in time.

so don't give up on me. i'm still alive. out there.
and now if you'll excuse me, i have adorable sick babies to check on....

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