Thursday, June 16, 2011

home sweet home. living room.

Design is defined by light and shade, 
and appropriate lighting is enormously important.
Albert Hadley, The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer

our theme was "comfortable". the house has a lofty, light feel to it--high ceilings, old archways, original moulding. we didn't want to cram in furniture--but wanted to make efficient use of our space. thankfully, the furniture we already had worked fabulously

first the wallpaper had to come down. OH MY GOSH was that a nightmare.
we even discovered a window behind the wallpaper. YES A WINDOW. they'd just screwed up plywood & glued over the top of it. my dad spent a weekend here & was kind enough to mud the entire wall for us. 

come to find out, this little home was one of the first in the neighborhood. and that window gave the tenants a fabulous view of the neighbors living room when building picked up. 

we chose a light gray for the living room--and the contrast between cool colors & warm wood was just what we wanted. i still change our couch pillow covers & shelf arrangements about every 4 months--so we decided to let the color rotate throughout the year in the form of new photos & accessories.

so we went from this:

to this:

and finally to this:
{ehem...i might have gone dumpster diving after a local college got out...OH MY GOSH i'm doing it every year. totally another post for a different time.}

we went from this:
living-entry before

to this:

and finally to this:

the entry way was another entity entirely. we wanted it to be a distinct space--but blend in well. as a matter of fact, in taking down the wallpaper, we discovered that the entry way used to be the front porch! the front door used to go straight into the dining room. 

 we chose a slightly darker grey for the walls...& it has since just evolved into a functional, perhaps even fashionable space that actually gets used.

you can see a little peek of it in this photo:
living-entry before

and another (ack!) peek in this one: 

we already had these shelves...

this was the fall set-up:

and with a little picture hanging, here it is now:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

home sweet home. part III.

we'd found it: THE ONE. {well, the one for now, at least}. we were SO EXCITED. and i spent the rest of my unemployed-don't-have-a-car summer browsing blogs & reading about projects. i made a ridiculously long list of "to do's" that i'm too embarrassed to share with anyone. lets just say that it was longer than 6 pages.

and like all first-timers, we had lofty plans. lofty & large--which turned to humble & small after we found out how much home improvements cost. 

it was a long wait to move in. paperwork, signatures, more paperwork, meetings...and then finally one day when our Realtor & official-signing-lady kindly came to the hospital with jon so i could sign the paperwork....

we were home owners. 

the army delivered our stuff a couple of weeks later. 

and then the projects began....after all, this is what we were dealing with:
{photos w/ little grandma's stuff in them....}

Sunday, June 12, 2011

home sweet home. part deux.

so after three agonizing days of searching through houses & coming up empty, i was beginning to lose steam. jon arrived on Wednesday & we didn't waste any time getting geared up for our house hunting safari, part deux.

poor jon didn't know what we'd been through--bullet holes, cat poop, completely dysfunctional layouts. we tried to warn him, but honestly. its kind of like warning myself i might gain a pound for every donut i eat. just doesn't work.

our realtor started off the morning with good news: he had a friend, an old acquaintence, who was planning on putting her house on the market. it was our second stop of the morning. i was excited.

after what seemed like a billion disgusting, poorly planned, poorly cleaned, poorly thought-out houses, we pulled up to a quaint (albeit overgrown) yellow house on a quiet, tree-lined street right near an elementary school.
i almost peed my pants.

and when a cute little grandma waved to us from her car (she was leaving so we could tour her home), i almost melted.

and then we walked in.

jon gagged.
i started crying. literally.

like a big goon in the middle of the dining room, i looked around, did the potty dance & starting crying.

mostly because i LOVED IT. and i finally believed those crazies who told me that i'd just know.

because i did.

things happened fast after that. i was in love with the house. it took jon a few more (okay, a lot more) houses to figure out that the cute yellow one--aptly named the "grandma house" wasn't so bad after all.

that night we made an offer.
that night that cute little grandma accepted.

it didn't take us long to celebrate.
it was well within our budget.
the location was perfect.
the house made sense.
it had character and history and needed a lot of work.
the coolest part? God's hand was totally in the middle of it. come to find out, christian couples have lived in this house since it was built. we'd discover later once we started demolition that God was literally built into the walls of the house.

He's still here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

striving to simple.

I’ve been journeying toward simplicity.

And I’ve failed miserably at it.

I’ve been drawn to the dirt, the lonely, the ruins. I’ve been drawn to run fast, bend low, find a sailors sunset—and I haven’t made it there yet. It is such a stark irony—a juxtaposition of sorts, the love of pretty & the drive toward simple.

house.oct-nov.2010 (13 of 26)

I sort through boxes, things I didn’t know we had & hadn’t used & really didn’t need in the first place. I package scrapbook paper & crafting supplies & notes & cards &hobby things. And I think of the waste, the reallocation, the reinvestment of means that could have grown something wonderful, saved a soul, even.

But it didn’t. And that was my fault, our fault.

I found myself outside today. My to do list sat waiting in the living room, neglected by the need for air. For more reasons than can be expressed with typeface, I’ve felt suffocated lately. By the rules, the work, the residency. By the death, the medicine, the missing practicality that seems to have escaped our health-centered lives. The air I’m breathing isn’t clean—and perhaps that is why I wandered outside into the sunbeams. For clarity. For pure.

And now, even four hours after the sun has tucked itself behind the visible horizon, there is dirt under my fingernails. I pick out the particulates, the common thread of presence through all the centuries, our beginning & our end.

The mixed bag of blessings & wondering & struggles & air is surfacing. And I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve seen a lot of death lately—more death than life. My days in the ICU have been long, hard, &disappointing. I've had a few good cries, probably not enough though. And my enchantment with medicine is weaning, I fear.

Perhaps, though, instead of it approaching it with discipline, the type of reprimand that I’d deserve had I swayed out of my lane, I’m going to look at it as growth. Growth, with a bit of sunbeam when I’m lucky.

And so I’m going to keep longing for simple. Holding on to what I know & trust & love.

To him.
To Him.
To my words & The Word.
To purging & giving & saving responsibly.
And to experiencing LIFE—it is fleeting, afterall. 

more to come. promise.

Friday, June 10, 2011

home sweet home. part I.

so we bought a house. like, months ago. and i've been promising pictures...but one thing has lead to another & i've been sleeping & working & working &; sleeping. and well, it is JUNE, if you didn't know. and you still haven't seen pictures of this little big project we've (ehem...jon's) been busy with.

first, the story:
jon was gone, playing in the giant sandbox across the sea. i was busy applying to residency. and when a little birdie told us that this city would probably most likely chances were good be our home for the next three years, my mind went-a-racin'. let's just face it, world, I LIKE DECORATING. i like crafting and picture taking and creating and re-creating and well, decorating. we'd been talking about a house--a home, really--for year-or-so prior. and not knowing if it was a good decision, economically financially & emotionally, we were hesitant to invest in a long-term home.

fast forward a few months & jon came home. the chatter about a place to live in the then-confirmed location of residency increased. we prayed. we listened to Dave. we reviewed our bank accounts & budget. jlyn freaked out. jon reassured the freaked-out-jlyn. and then, in a fury of boldness, we cashed in our air miles & bought plane tickets for a house hunting adventure.

and adventure it was.

we connected with a good friend, who happened to be a fabulous realtor. he was amazing. like, totally amazing. he found us a loan officer. and suddenly, like the world plopped off its axis, we were approved for a home loan. we spent late nights talking about the logistics, the budget, the reality of it all. we'd been intentional about saving when jon was deployed...& were hoping to find something to invest in.

and then we started looking.

actually *I* started looking. jon had to work, so i went to do some prelim work & narrow down the giant pool of structures to one that was more manageable.
and OH. MY. GOSH. there were some crapshoots. and other excrement, actually, from cats & dogs & bullet holes in the windows. our budget was teeny-tiny--& we were committed to not exceeding it. and the house we thought we'd get for our money wasn't looking like much house at all....

we looked at houses. a LOT of houses.
a WHOLE lot of houses.
some were super. except they had no parking.
or the entire inside was purple. like the entire inside people--trim & all.
bullet holes?
cat poo?
a house the size of a closet?
we pretty much saw it all.
secret upstairs, finished with bedrooms, accessed only via ladder in the master bedroom.
we named each of them--mostly so when jon saw them could keep better track of them.
the bachelor house.
the view house.
the bug house.
the bullet hole house.
the cat poo house.
the kitchen house.
the list went on.
people told me finding the right house was a bit like finding a spouse--you'll just know.

well i DIDN'T just know. i hated each of the houses we saw. and quite frankly, i finished the first three days of house-hunting with a soured attitude & a hopeless outlook that we might have to rent after-all.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

worth it.

They walk down-trodden, holding hands & passing Kleenex. They gather in small clusters in the hallway, like high school cliques of a different, isn’t-supposed-to-happen kind. They stare. And share. And stave off the sting of reality with gasp-filled laughter & light hearted recollection. Most of them do, anyway.

Some of them though, usually the older ones, sit dry faced & calm, muffling the occasional shocked sob in the sleeve of their worn canvas coats or the stained handkerchief ironed once by the limp hands they hold. And the wisdom of age, the naivety of youth, the innocence of good intended hope, usually manages to shine through.

When she came in with an ostrich-egg-sized bleed in her brain, her lovey wanted everything done. So we shoved a tube down her throat to oxygenate her dying lungs while he stood in the corner hoping those lungs would recover. And we put lines in her arms & legs & neck to give her the medicine to pump her dying heart while he sat in the rose-colored vinyl chair, hoping that heart had more beats than the day contained. The man came to take pictures of her brain, the one filled with blood, while he sat outside the curtain & hoped that it would still remember.

And finally, when the room was silent, & her medicated heart sounds were all that was beeping, he left to let her rest. Her lungs. Her brain. Her heart. Her blood.

When the sunrise bathed the city in light again, the glass-walled sterile penthouse watched the city greet the day with life. The canvas coat walked through the doorway & pulled aside the curtain to find that she hadn’t moved all night. Those lungs, the ones we were oxygenating through the tube; the ones that shrieked with joy in the frigid lake water, breathed in the fresh air misted with salt, powered the melodic hums that lulled their little ones to bed, & drove the whispers of I love you. Those lungs that overnight had turned into balloons of air, were functionally dead. The heart that drove her joy, that beat in endless synchrony with his, the heart she gave to him at the tender age of 22, had become a simple pump lifeless in its drumming. And the brain, the fragile precious brain--the real life broken jar of memories. It had spilled out the Christmas dinners, the photographs, & yellowed love letters, the wedding vows, & late night talks & camping trips; I like to think that perhaps in the midst of its running, it managed to spill a little bit of love.

He asked us to make her comfortable, the lungs & brain & heart & blood. And we did.

The nurses, swiftly & gracefully, pulled back the curtain guarding his sweet lovey. And soon enough he emerged, tear stained canvas sleeves & wrinkled handkerchief. The pink colors of the morning greeting the new life of day, stark irony as he said goodbye to the life he knew with her.

He left to make the announcement to the cliques, waiting patiently in the hallway. And like a cluster of chickens, the sighs & gasps & sobs echoed down the corridor.

She was gone, peacefully. The brain. The blood. The heart. The lungs. It was a new day, afterall. He walked out with his head hanging low & his heart dragging lower--but maybe with a skip in his step. Not because she was gone, not because the blood spilled out & the pump stopped beating--but because it was worth it. The wrinkled handkerchief was worth it. The wedding vows & trips to the lake & camping & kids & Christmas dinners. It was all worth it.

SHE was worth it.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


I’m alive.

And, I’m okay.

After my last post (& the one before that), I got lots of “are you okay?’s” from facebook & blogland. Which, by the way, I very much appreciate.

But I’m alive. And I’m okay. And actually, at this very moment, I’m doing quite well thankyouverymuch.

I feel like I just ran a marathon. All that real running would have been conveninent, mostly because I’ve gained 12 pounds this winter. Ehem.

Anyways, details aside, I’ve emerged from hibernation. And before I thank you for your support & concern & love & prayers, I think I should probably clarify where I’ve been.

In many ways, I feel like I’ve been in the trenches. Holding dying hands. Delivering dead babies. Diagnosing deadly diseases. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago at small group (bless those souls in our Bible Study) that yes, there is life, but ohmygosh there is also death. Suicide of a neighbor…& then another neighbor. Hospice. Cancer. Dementia. Delirium. Psychosis. Overdoses. ICU. Alcoholism. Cocaine. The list goes on. Seven months—straight of an almost-daily grind that quite literally drained the life out of me. That thing called burnout? I BELIEVE IT NOW. A couple of weeks left me with over 100 hours clocked, the others tipping the exhaustion scale at somewhere between 60 & 80.. I swear two months passed this winter where I didn’t step outside in the daylight. I lived in the cinched waistbands of faded blue scrubs, got yelled at by sub-specialists who think the world revolves around their bathroom habits, & told families to get things ready because their son or mother or cousin or friend wasn’t going to be joining them for the Holiday’s.

It was hard.

And you know, I’m a conservative depression-diagnoser. I think we’ve gotten too caught up in the DSM-V diagnoses—stretching to hang on to something that might justify how we are feeling—or how we aren’t feeling. But the truth is that LIFE IS TOUGH. Sometimes, despite what criteria are included, LIFE JUST SUCKS. Certainly, the real McCoy exists--& when it does, it hits hard. But there are plenty of characters, of long work hours & broken relationships & “feeling blue” & seasonal affective disorder’s & hard weeks & long days that dress up quite nicely as a depressed dysthymic stew. And when patients come begging for pills or easy fixes, I’m not one that buys into the “diagnosis means delivery” sort of cure-all. This battle, the one I’ve been fighting since residency started, is one that needs to be fought. I worked hard to get to this place. And although I certainly didn’t expect it to be this hard, I knew that it would be challenging. I knew that I’d have to lean on (& sometimes be carried by) Jon. I knew that I’d have to forego & give up & maybe even give in. And I knew that Vitamin D would be my friend, that sunlights & tanning beds were viable substitutions for the real deal, & that this too shall pass.

This month I’m on a no-call-nights-feel-like-a-human-being-regular-person schedule. One where, low-and-behold, I can actually workout in the morning without getting up before the roosters. One where I can come home & get things done like cleaning & cooking & gardening. One where I can find the time to write letters & redecorate, to spray paint & read. One where I am, for the first time in what feels like forever, surfacing to find that the tulips are blooming & the world is a happy place.

It’s, like, better than Disneyland.

I start five weeks in the ICU at the end of May. Where more sickness & death & tubes & beeps & procedures & bad news will be had. Right in the middle of summer sun & sprinklers & popcicles. I’ll miss out on Memorial Day (just like Thanksgiving & Christmas & Valentine’s Day & Easter—all of which had me working).

This is part of the process. Hard. Annoying. Draining. Challenging. Burnout-inducing. But nonetheless, part of the process. I’m dreaming about a someday-3-day-a-week work schedule & being able to just be home with my family. In the meantime, however, I’ll keep plugging along. Because aside from sewing the occasional throw-pillow & spray painting bright-colored frames, I need to learn to find joy in the corners & cracks, between the lines of my schedule, & within the heart that I know still exists.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011


what would have been was wheeled by me today.

by a lady in black pants, ironed clean with pointy creases. she wore click-y shoes that tap tap tapped as she wheeled that little cart down the hallways.

that little cart carrying what would have been.

that little cart carrying
belly laughs
diaper blow-outs
first crawls
first steps
first words
first day of school.

that little cart carrying
and nighttime snuggles.
and will you read me a story.
fort building
cookie baking
dress up

that little cart carrying
slobbery kisses
childhood wishes
first big game
report cards

that little cart carrying
a graduation day
a wedding day

that little cart carrying
seeds of future generations

the lady in black tap tap tapped down the hallway to the staff elevators. where she pushed the button & took what would have been downstairs.

to the place that no one talks about.

what would have been died.
yesterday, maybe the day before.
her heart just stopped beating.
no one knows why.
she was ready to be born.
her due date was tomorrow.

for all that encompasses those little people i've been spending so much time bringing into the world lately, potential was lost. and i've been chanting Psalm 139 in my head all day. because Someone, Somewhere has to make sense of all this. and has to explain, in His own time, the human disconnect between what is & little what would have been.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

losing it.

"what, you feel like you aren't happy?"

"no. no, that's not it. i just...i just feel like i've lost my JOY."

somewhere along the journey, i lost it. i must have ripped it off and thrown it in the hazardous materials can or washed it down the drain with tears or blood or aptly named hospital-goo that seems to peel off of me at the end of the day. regardless of the method, i'm feeling like i lost it.

i'm not good at losing things. i am most certainly good at getting lost. the losing part? notsomuch.

i delivered 4 babies today, 16 total on the Labor & Delivery ward--one of them was completely independent. my first one ever without an attending breathing down my shirt. sort of like a first kiss, i briefly tasted that sweet sensation & got red-in-the-face over what i was doing. i'll probably never forget it. but when it was done, it was done. i was all excited and used a superfulous number of exclamations in my text message shortly thereafter...but then it was done--the baby was out, the mama was clean & i moved on. i let the womb-miracle, first-breath, radiant-mama surround me & then swirl down the drain. i left that room-of-excitement, drudging in the fact that the Labor & Delivery floor was full--everyone around me basked in the miracles of new life &cute! new! babies!

yesterday, i came home from work to find jon graciously working in installing a new back door. the old ones let in a draft-something-horrible & it was time to invest in quality new boundaries to keep the outside outside. in my flurry of keys-on-the-table-dinner-wasn't-made-i-had-a-long-day-ness, i lost it. and somewhere in the midst of making 7 pans of shepherd's pie & welcoming our three overnight guests, the joy burned up in the oven.

and i've noticed, too, that over the course of the week, bitterness & unappreciation have welled up inside of me. i've avoided the phone. i've stayed off facebook. i quit smiling at strangers, they probably don't care anyway. i stopped enjoying the blogs that usually make me swell with inspiration. i pushed away my Bible. instead of listening to sermons or finding solice in silence or studying or staying put, i've ceased a method a restless wandering. i started taking longer showers and making bigger i'll get to it later piles and bins and boxes. most certainly, i lost it.

i'm not sure where. or why. or how, really. but all i know is that foosh! and its gone.

i chose to sit on my rump yesterday instead of working out. i chose to eat 9 (or 29) Whopper Easter Eggs instead of dusting. i chose to avoid deadlines & studying & looming to-do's.

and the laundry waits--jon feels like he's drowning in it. the dishes wait, feta & balsalmic dried like glue to the dinner plates from last night. the relational wells wait--dry, cracking, & abandoned because of my deliberate choosings. and then the sleeping waits--my eyes &brain & heart awake at the seemingly horrible choices i've made throughout the day.

should i have done something different? in that delivery? in that c-section? was it the right lab? the right medicine? the right evidence to treat--or not? did i say the right thing? at the right time? in the right way? to be politically correct? generally accepting? showing Christ's love & grace &humility? was i there at the right time? and am i the right person?

and the question marks swirl--tattooing my sleepy daydreams with canyons of unanswered questions.

those eight pounds?
that laundry?
the budget?
the garden. and canvas. and dust. and sheets. and gifts. and cards.

and suddenly the joy in the morning, in the hot showers & warm tea, couch snuggles & sleeping in--suddenly that JOY slips through the cracks. invisibly through my open grasp. and i realize, six months into 30-hour-hospital-call, that it is just gone.

I think the reason that the process of medical training is so stressful for people is because those who go into medicine in the first place usually try their hardest to do their best, no matter how difficult the circumstances. And it can be difficult for us when we feel like our best, for whatever reason, is not enough. More than the fatigue or the workload or the ridiculous life-and-death stress of working in the hospital, far and away the hardest part for me was feeling like my best was not enough. Of course, my efforts for the most part were "enough" (at least by most quantifiable metrics and some intangible ones), and though it never felt like enough,
I tried my best, then as I do now.
As we all do.
- Michelle Au, The Underwear Drawer (blog)

someday, the sun will come out. (tomorrow, tomorrow). the garden will be planted. the laundry will be done. the canvas will be painted. and someday, i'll look back &realize that this is all in the plan. these long days and longer nights, these feelings of lost &guilt of stolen joys. and someday, i'll snuggle on the couch and enjoy the hot tea & rosemary shortbread & rain on the windows &charts in my inbox. and i'll embrace the wrinkles & gray hairs that stress has painted lately. and maybe then, maybe in that someday, i'll realize that every ounce of me was poured into my days. and it will be okay. and it will be enough.

in the meantime, we just keep trying.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


It was Ash Wednesday last week. Did you know that? I forgot, conveniently, I think. I was, once again, at work. Which is where it seems I always am these days--& where I have been hanging my head, laying my head, & missing my bed for the past 7 months.

I stepped into our back yard a couple of days ago, mostly to check out the side yard & throw daydreams of a patio & new BBQ at the muddy weed patch & noticed that little sprouts had begun to emerge from their frozen cave of winter. Irises, I think. Its beginning to be spring. Did you know that?

And tonight, just a couple days after last fall when we wound the clock-hands backwards, we wind them forward again, signifying the glorious return of something past 4:30pm: daylight.

Most days this winter, I’ve been awake before the sunrise & home well after it’s tucked itself in for the night. A senior resident told me that I’d rejoice the first day I walked to my car after work & saw those last few rays of sun before the moon rocked the sky. REJOICE I did. It’s been a long winter. And a challenging one; one in which I’ve questioned why I started this journey (again), one of growth & discipline & reprimand & emotion (okay, there might have been tears) & exhaustion. And of all the things this winter has been, looking back & sweeping away the smog of bitterness that I’ve let settle in my personal bubble, I realize that it has also been good.

I read this last week.

And I wanted to shout AMEN! at the computer. Because I hope she is right. I hope it does get better. I hope the workdays get shorter & the sunlight stays longer. And I hope to spend more nights in my own bed, beside the man I love. I hope to keep liking what I’m doing, even when I’m not loving it.

I know this is a season. One where I seldom have time to write thank you notes. Or take pictures. This is a season where creativity is sacrificed for sleep, instead of the artist in me who thinks it should be the other way around. This is a season where the holidays fly, Ash Wednesday is slept away, & the thought of one more cafeteria meal makes me want to barf. A season where my jeans are tighter because of the eight pounds I’ve gained & the yoga mats downstairs aren’t showing as much wear as they should be. All in all, it’s a season of “hold on”, of “maybe next time”, & of the dreaming of the Light at the end of the tunnel.

She said I’ll look back on this time with fondness.

And you know what? I think she’s right.

For all the complaining about West Virginia I did, for all the hours I spent banging my head against the wall (literally), I really did enjoy it. It, too, was a season. Certainly not free of frustrations or disillusions, but also full of new memories, new joys, & newly discovered sustenance. I was ready to move on, as I should have been--& I did, gratefully.

And now, the tides have changed. I’m readying myself, once again, to dig in--& really, to keep digging. The long hours. The lone calls. The demanding insurance companies. The misunderstood patients. And the learning. One of these days, I’ll be ready to move on from here, too--& I will.

In the meantime, I’m taking small steps. In noticing—the new spring blooms, the cleaning Jon did while I was gone all day; in embracing—the employment challenges, the long duty hours, the hospital call nights; & in remembering—why I’m here, who I am, and Whom I belong to.

What sort of season are you facing?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


it's an odd wind lately. like an out of place Chinook blowing the autumn leaves...or an arctic breeze whisping through sweaty summer strands. and i'm not sure how i feel about it. because of all the things winds can blow away, this one has brought a plague of disappointment.
i was talking to a friend this week. no one ever told us our twenties would be like this, we commented. 

not that "this" was ever that bad in the first place, but certainly the hope that college infused is slowly bleeding out--and this not-so-gentle breeze that came subtly in the night has suddenly found us bloodletting the hopes & dreams of the "this" that was supposed to be. and before i go on, i'll make it clear that we are blessed. us, personally, and us, as a whole in this country. we complain because of the excess--the excess cars to make pollution & food to make fat & groceries to make garbage. but all-in-all, we are blessed, indeed.
i think the mindset of "this" comes from something that we'd dreamed up that never came to be. our hearts wished, just like Cinderella said they should, but the dream never came true. and here we are, living in the perpetual world of real-life REM, frozen beyond Stage III of waking. Of course in sleep, our REM world renders us immobile--unable to run from the vivid bad guys or swim in the rising river. I guess the real life feels that way a little right now, too: frozen.
and its the disappointment that has invaded our hearts in the meantime, the bloodletting of our former hopes & dreams, the broken mirror & the drowning wish...
it's kind of hard, actually.
kind of hard to face the day when you didn't get chosen for the job or the school or role. kind of hard to face the moment when it seems just too big to handle; when the right decisions you made three months ago suddenly seem so wrong & when the prayers you prayed so hard were answered but seemingly in the wrong way alltogether. it sort of makes one wonder if the prayers we prayed so fervently at the beginning of it all were misdirected wantings. 

much of the time on most of these days, it is hard to see beyond the "this"--hard to see above the expectations, through the veil of now, and into the future. the uncertainty prevails in these hours and we find ourselves clinging. clinging to ourselves. to each other. to peanut butter & warm baths & candles & each other. 

oh, and jesus, too. 

which is what i haven't been so good about lately, the clinging--to the right things, the right One, at least. I've clung to my schedule, the lack of consistency. i've clung to my comfort foods--lately it is caramel kettle corn & apples + peanut butter (not together, of course). i've clung to my sleep. and my To Do List that never seems to get checked. most mornings, after i've battled half asleep with the idea of waking two hours early to work out & then face a 12-hour-work-day, after i've fallen asleep in the shower, i leave my dust-ridden Bible in a flurry of rushed. 

instead of clinging, i leave. 

we're all in the midst of transitions. the beautiful souls in our small group are battering down the hatches right alongside us, suffering their own afflictions of the disappointed "this". its an honor to be part of it all--the centering, the supporting, the living. i guess you could say i'm getting used to it all, the unpredictability of this new wind. and just like any weather pattern, the beauty & mystery of storms is that they roll. the winds will surely change. when exactly, none can be sure. 

in the meantime, we'll keep clinging. we'll keep facing the plagues of heartache, the winds of change, & the uncertain "this", certain that the "this" will soon become the "was".

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

holding hands.

They held hands.

Not in the way they used to, of course.

Her hair was curled—a white a-line bob. Crows feet framed her eyes. “He’s an ornery man,” she said. I wasn’t sure if the wrinkles were from years of joy or months of pain.

He gurgled.

And coughed.

And then tried to spit.

But that strong, 6-foot-2-inch man was no longer coordinated enough to even expectorate his own sputum. In more ways than one, he’d become a child again. Cooing. Gurgling. Pointing. Pulling at his gown, then her jacket, then the tubes and lines and electrode’s.

The words I imagine she once used in adoration toward the father of her children, words like “strong”, “handsome”, “helpful”, “leader” had turned into something entirely different.

Isn’t he cute?”, she giggled, “…just adorable.”

And if I didn’t know better, I might have guessed she was talking about her grandchildren—the ones who never knew their grandfather for the strong, handsome, helpful leader he was.

It hit him hard about five years ago. And to everyone’s surprise, he made his way into the Emergency Room because he “just wasn’t feeling right.” He left with a new diagnosis: Severe Progressive Dementia, Alzheimer’s-type. Low-and-behold, the atrophy had started. Amyloid plaques & neurofibrillary tangles set up house. Then ever-so-slowly and almost instantly, her big, strong husband regressed.

He forgot her birthday.
And then their anniversary.
Eventually, he forgot her.

And that’s when the words changed. The world’s changed, too.

But still, they held hands.

She said no treatments. And he couldn’t move his right side. Paralyzed, both of them—one by a stroke & the other by the stinging pain of love. She filled out the bright green form:


We disconnected the fluids. Took off monitor stickers that were so bothersome in the first place. The medicines were stopped, Hospice was started. And we waited. She waited. And he kept on grunting.

All the while, they held hands.

I saw those crows-feet again. And I knew. I knew they weren’t from pain. Or joy. Or even age.

They were from LOVE.

And it was then that I realized: love really is choosing the highest good for the other.

Even if sometimes, it means calling them cute, holding their hand, & letting them go…

Friday, January 21, 2011

in the meantime...

This might just be the year-that-the-blog-writer-got-sucked-into-the-hospital. Or not.

But gosh, these days it sure feels that way. Good thing? Sometimes.

So yes, in summary, I’ve been sucked into the hospital. Back in December, I was on OB catching babies & sewing up crotches (yes, I just wrote crotches on this G-rated space). And I realized about a week before Christmas when the cookies were coming in my the dozen & my scrubs were getting tighter that hey! Its Christmas next week! Which happened to be the exact same time I realized that hey! I haven’t bought any presents yet! Which, if you know my present-buying-one-year-in-advance-having-things-wrapped-by-November-obsession, it was so not me. But then again, I was nearing work hour 100 of that week…and barely remembered how to drive myself home after 26 hours on call…so all things considered, perhaps I wasn’t so out-of-it afterall.

And in the meantime, I do know that it is now January 21, 2011, today thankyouverymuch. I’ve only slightly re-entered humanity this month—don’t hold your breath, though, because I’ll be slipping away again into the venus fly trap called the hospital again for the next two months in just one short week.

Things at home? Well, ask Jon. He’s been totally amazing. Fixing up our house like Norm on This Old House. Doing laundry. Making dinner. Cleaning, even. Holy poop I’m  a lucky girl. And to top it all off, he still listens to me complain about work and time and unchecked-to-do-lists. He’s been awesome.

And me? Well, I’m just hanging on.

I hear this year, this intern year, is rough. And for the residents with kids & families & like, other real people to take care of, KUDOS to you. because I can barely find time to clip my toenails.

The truth is that this has been a reality-laden transition for me. I—me, my own self—has always been the manager of my time, the control freak with the calendar, the weirdo with the day-planner tucked sweetly under my wing. But this year? ALL OF THAT CHANGED. And suddenly I was finding my schedule—my DAY LONG LIFE SCHEDULE—in my mailbox at work. And next to it, my lecture schedule. And next to that my night-call schedule. And next to those, my evaluations and articles to read and prescription requests to refill from patients. And it was around mid-November when I finally had that holy crap moment that I realized: life has changed.

Me? I’m no longer in charge of my own time. And jon? He’s still awesome. And while we try to hang on in the  meantime; while I make more messes at home than I clean up, dirty more laundry than I clean, & eat more meals than I make, I’m learning slowly to accept the fact that I just have to get through it. no shortcuts. No easy-outs. Just holding hands. And wiping tears. And writing orders. And refilling prescriptions. And coming home to hugs from Jon. And falling asleep on the couch even before dinner is made. And just existing.

I have four months of call left for this year. Which means I have four more months to make it through long shifts. And erratic schedules. And long days and short nights and exhaustion and not seeing daylight. From now to then—then when I’m done & might be able to enjoy more than one afternoon off in the sunshine…I’m just holding on. I have a billion stories to share. A million things to pass along. Some hilarities in between.

We’ll get there…eventually.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have deadlines to meet, patient charts to complete…and toenails to clip.  

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