Wednesday, November 21, 2012


[originally written 07.28.2011 during my ICU rotation]

The stories these walls bear. Miraculous recoveries. Unspeakable tragedies. And mostly everything in between. The flow is steady, rhythm strong. The floors covered in blood and in tears. Sometimes independent, but usually all at once.

And oddly enough it seems like that how the patients come, too: steady, independent, and all at one.

The man in room #44.

The woman in room #22.

The alcoholic grandmother. Smoker. Mother.

The trauma. The car accident. Pneumonia. Hemorrhage.

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We see them cycle. And sometimes they leave us floating—smiling at their recovery, body full of miracles and fervor. Others make us shake our years. Thirty-seven, so young; her liver aged  and poisoned from alcohol. And then, in some rooms, tears track in and out all day long—the goodbyes too much to handle, the dying too long and life too short. The hanging on—just barely, and the holding on—too strongly.

All sorts are wheeled through these doors. It’s a battle of the heart and mind, the practical and the justifiable, the quality and the quantity—of life, illness, moments, and madness.
Days have been tough for me. Upset families. Dying patients. Tragedy striking unannounced just one time too many. And for some, the inevitable finale rearing its ugly black head. My tears have been tracked, too. Implanted on footprints, dropped on sterile lines, hidden in the cuff of the white coat I’m forced to darn.

I’ve lost more sleep over these patients than over the sick babies, the neglected children, the homeless asthmatics in the dead-of-winter, and the cancer filled ovaries I’ve seen. Not because they don’t make sense—that an obvious part of the conundrum, but because we don’t make sense.

It’s been a soul-filled journey. Soul and sour, actually, depending on the day.

George, the hilariously absent minded, misunderstood character in Grey’s Anatomy pre-raunchy Season 1 was distraught about pouring his every drop of energy into a code on an already obviously-dead patient—antiarrythmics, defibrillation, chest compressions. But his all-knowing supervisor reminded him WHY those measures, ridiculous and seemingly wasteful were necessary.

                Because we have to be able to tell the family that we did 

And now—at the end of these five weeks. A the end of my nights of lost sleep and growing gray hairs.

At the end of this rotation, I finally get it, too.

This isn’t about the medicine. It’s really not about the disease or the diagnosis, the tears or traffic or tragedy. 

It is about TRYING. 

Giving the body one last chance to heal, the family one last chance to say goodbye, and Jesus one last chance to say hello. And at the end of the day, we go to bed knowing not what the future may hold, but knowing that what we tried was 100% and what we gave was EVERYTHING. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Getting Up.

I’ve been absent for a while, trying to keep up with the tides of life—always changing with the moon & the storms. To be honest, it feels like life has been a storm lately. The addition of a baby in the middle of residency has left us (me, really) treading water. It is exhausting. And just in the last couple of months, I feel like I’m finally coming up for air—or hanging on to a pool noodle. Either way, having Teaspoon around feels normal now (although admittedly I still sometimes wonder when the heck his parents are going to show up & relieve us, the ever-babysitters). Because if you didn’t realize, HAVING A KID IS A BIG RESPONSIBILITY.

When Teaspoon was about 3 weeks old, I made my way out of the house & joined a “Mom’s Group” (more like a help-me-I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing Support Group) for a couple of weekly meetings. And while the more seasoned mama’s sat in a circle & talked about yelling-matches with their teenagers & testing boundaries with their 3-year-olds, I sat there looking at this creature that had invaded our lives thinking HOLY HECK, what did we do?! I AM SO NOT READY FOR THIS.


But ready or not, here he comes.


I’m starting to find joy in the daily routine. The snuggles before bed. The cooing & splashing & spitting & open-mouth-kisses. I know that it all will change, it is all a phase/stage/season. I am, by nature, a pessimistic realist. And I’ve had to catch myself more than once, take a good self-inflicted whap upside the head, & refocus my positive energies toward soaking up this phase, this stage, this season. I am certainly not there…but I am working on it.

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And the truth is that in the midst of all of it, we are thinking about major changes in our household. Moving. Jobs. Future; all trying to weave in the provisions of God’s plan & the preferences that overwhelm our hearts.


The amazing people around us have been through trials--& our hearts, our relationships, &our marriage have carried just a bit of their burden. Occasionally, we’ll pour out our breaking souls & shattered lives in fellowship. But most often I find that it is in the quiet of the wee morning hours or the end of the day that I find solace & peace. (Which is why I’m holed up in our freezing cold office at 9pm on a Saturday night…by myself). Despite the heartbreak &tincture of tears that have washed over us, we’re continually inspired by the will to move on, break in, & let go that radiates from the people affected. Lives are changed, y’all, & the change can’t be easy.


If anything, the events that have transpired with neighbors & friends & Believers, have been a reality check—for us, for our hearts, & for our marriage, that we are not immune from the woes of the World, that we are a fallen people who desperately need rescuing, & that we have much to learn about the mysterious ways of God.

For the third time now, I’ve (re)started reading Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges, if for nothing else than a gut check. My heart, despite every ounce of blessing, has been overtaken with bitterroot more times than I’d like to admit over the past year. I’ve strayed from focused time in the Word. I’ve brushed off the drive to treat my body as a temple for the Holy Spirit. I’ve struggled with the attachment to materialism (once again). And now more than ever—at this point of uncertainty in our lives—I’m finding the need to cultivate the home, the heart, & the health that God calls us to so boldly.

 Jon has been incredibly supportive, continually amazing me with his choices toward family & faith. The adjustment with Teaspoon has been a hard road for him, too—my moods, the post-partum woes that invaded our relationship, & a shift in the corporate ladder for him. We keep talking about new adventures, wild & crazy ones that probably won’t ever come to fruition--& in the midst of it all, he is learning the new me. I’m more convinced than ever before that once you become a mama, God flips a neurotic switch in your brain…& suddenly nothing is good enough & there is always too much laundry & never enough time & the days become shorter & nights become longer & hair becomes grayer & heart becomes fuller. And when the switch is flipped, the world’s axis tips just a little bit—bucking your loved ones on their rumps until you decide to climb off the saddle of self-absorption & i-have-a-newborn-focus & lend a hand to help them up.

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It took me a long time to help Jon up.


So all in all, we are alive. This space will be sparse. And it might become a Teaspoon-gallery. But I miss writing. I miss the mind-dump feeling of accomplishment after I hit publish. And since I’ve been constantly inspired by the everyday of this space, I want to have those thoughts for my kids (if they ever care enough to read them)…& for the other mama’s who feel crazy & loved ones who haven’t been helped up yet.

Life is constantly changing. And even though I would love to find an altitude to cruise at for a while, I have a bold feeling that life doesn’t really work that way. God ordains change in our lives, challenge in our hearts, & combat in our minds to draw us closer, hug us tighter, & help us up

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