Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stay Gold, George.

Isaiah helped me edit this picture. He said, "Add a happy face because I can tell he made people smile."



Seize upon that moment long ago
One breath away and there you will be
So young and carefree
Again you will see
That place in time. . . .so gold

Steal away into that way back when
You thought that all would last forever
But like the weather
Nothing can ever. . . and be in time
Stay gold

But can it be?
When we can see
So vividly
A memory
And yes you say
So must the day
Too, fade away
And leave a ray of sun
So gold

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
Though not imagined
All things that happen
Will age to old
Though gold

~ Stevie Wonder

_____________________________

I listened to this song tonight and quietly wept. Especially the stanza that says:

Life is but a twinkling of an eye
Yet filled with sorrow and compassion
Though not imagined
All things that happen
Will age to old
Though gold


Life truly is just that. But a twinkling of an eye. Today I sat on a hard pew in a church. Along with throngs of colleagues, medical students, residents and others, we paid respect to a dear colleague--a golden colleague--who, unfortunately, left us long before his golden years.

Yep.

A team on call couldn't get their attending on the phone. An attending physician who took great pride in caring for his patients at Grady Hospital and who would never leave them high and dry without some good explanation.

When Deanna didn't pick up our kids from after school care on November 15, 2012, I remember uttering aloud to Harry over the phone: "Over her dead body would she leave those kids without calling us." Well. Unfortunately, this was a nearly identical situation. Over his dead body would he leave those patients at Grady.

Sigh.

He was young. Presumably healthy. Cherished by many. And now, in the twinkling of an eye, he has made his transition. Some kind of natural cause, although the timing seems horrifically unnatural. This wasn't supposed to be what I was doing today. No, it was not.

Last week I sat in a meeting with him. Last Thursday evening to be exact. We were about to start a project together with a group of others. The meeting was going over and I whispered to him that I needed to get my kids. He calmly said, "Don't stress it, Kim. You should go to your children. I'll fill you in on the details later."

And you know what? He did.

I guess you'd think that something like this--a young colleague in his 40's having some kind of sudden death after what seemed like an ordinary day--would take me to a dark place. Or at least rip the scab off of my own wound. Particularly since the last time most of my colleagues saw him in the hospital was on November 15--coincidentally the day we said good bye to Deanna. But you know what? It didn't. It broke my heart, yes. But somehow I felt my heels digging down into the ground of my life and the people in it. Reminded, yet again, of that truth Stevie Wonder sings of so hauntingly:

Life is but a twinkling of an eye.

My colleague, George? He lived life like it was golden. He did things with zeal, marched to his own drum, and didn't waste a lot of time worrying about what everyone else thought. He was a dedicated teacher, mentor and friend. A Grady doctor through and through and also a small group advisor who will be survived by four doting small groups of former and current medical students--all broken hearted and reeling from this tragic loss.

But.

Life is but a twinkling of an eye. And somehow George must have known that, too. He left it all on the field. And man. You should have heard the words spoken about him today. I heard someone wise once say, "The value of a man's life is measured in how much of it he gives away." Listening to his family, students and colleagues talking about him today was a clear affirmation of how rich of a life he lived.

I hated seeing his small group students crying. I just hated that part. It also hurt to hear the restrained pain that kept eking out between the words his young niece spoke on behalf of their family. That part felt like deja vu.

Anyways.

Here is yet another charge to us all to live life like it's golden. To love like you mean it. To try the things that seem out of your reach. And to be as intentional as possible. And to not bog yourself down in what other people might think. My friend George did all of these things.

This evening I was running in silence (and actually darkness.) I love stillness like that because in it I can hear and see things that normally I'd miss. This time, I could hear George with his silky accent saying something wise about all that transpired today. Shrugging and saying in his relaxed way,"You know, Kim? Here's the thing: Death brings life. Like, a seed is planted and grows. But only after it has fallen from the tree. You know?" And I smiled and even laughed while I was running because this is the kind of thing that he'd totally say. Something deep, cryptic and Yoda-ish like that-- and words that would make you think for a moment and then say, "Aaaaaaah" -- like 45 minutes later. Ha.

That was George.

He wasn't a father or a husband and his parents preceded him in death. That said, he was a true family man. A doting uncle and so open and giving to all of us. He understood the importance of family and I know that first hand. He always, always helped me out when I asked for a colleague to cover me or when I needed to get out early to get to my children. "That's important, Kim," he'd say. "Go ahead. Get to Isaiah and Zachary." He'd call them by name, too. Funny how the little things become the big things, right?

Sigh.

Again. . .life is but a twinkling of an eye. Tonight I'm reflecting on those words and the life of my colleague and friend, George Mathew. And feeling glad that I had the chance to know him.


And yes you say
So must the day
Too,  fade away
And leave a ray of sun
So gold


***
Stay gold, Georgie.

Now playing on mental iPod. . .and on my real one tonight. . . Stevie singing "Stay Gold." When I see a ray of sun, I will think of you, George.

Friday, November 21, 2014

First Person Chronicles, Chapter 2: Jackpot.



This visit is really just a regular check up. You know--the annual where you have to get checked out for things like cancer of the cervix and any kind of infection. Usually, I wouldn't have asked anyone to come with me for this. Sure, it's always uncomfortable when the doctor tries to talk to me and realizes that my English isn't so good, but for this, my regular check up, normally I could survive it.

Normally.

See, the problem is . . .well. . .that's what makes this hard. I have been having this funny pain. And also just a little bit of discharge and bleeding after Javier and I are together. We've been together for so long that I don't think . . .no. I don't think it's anything like an infection. Like not a bad one. But I need to know why I feel like this.

When I asked my son to join me, he had a fit. I real, true fit. But I needed to be sure that I could explain myself, you know? And like, sometimes, there are people that don't know one single word of Spanish so they go right away and get the interpreter. But then there are a whole bunch of other ones who sort of speak some Spanish but not really enough where I feel like we can understand each other. Then, sometimes, you will hit a jackpot with some Latina who happens to be in medicine that can really, really speak to you.

But that's only when you hit it big.

Javier told our son that he didn't have to go with me. Pulling an 8th grader out of school to go with his mami to the doctor didn't make sense, he said. And our son was just sitting there staring at his sneakers with his hoodie pulled all the way over his head the whole time his papi said that. I tried to make eye contact with him to let him know that this was more but I couldn't get my boy to look in my direction.

I was nervous about explaining to Javier why I wanted someone there to interpret the English words flying at me from the doctor because I didn't want him to think the wrong things. I wanted to yell, "What if I don't hit the jackpot? What if I leave not being able to ask about what I need to ask about?" But, again, it was too much. I would just have to suck it up. Like a lot of the lady things with my lady parts that I have sucked up so many other times.

Sigh.

So now I am sitting in this room waiting. Waiting to see the doctor in this open back gown with my backside out. A metal tray with  these things that, I think, are going to be used on my insides to check me out and a little rolling stool right in front of me where, I think, a doctor is going to be scooting all around on.

That reminds me.

It's also scary when the doctor and the nurse are talking to each other in English about things and I sort of understand every few words but not all of it. This visit is usually the one where somebody else is there in the room. So they start talking to each other and, I guess, it's mostly about what's happening with me. I guess. But I don't know if it's bad or just regular, you know?

I wasn't sure what I'd do with my son on that part. But probably, I would have explained myself and he could then just step in the hallway after all that. See, I just needed him for the part where I got somebody to hear what was happening.

I hope the doctor and the nurse don't find something in me and then start talking all about it. I'll be grabbing words like "this" and "her" and "vaginal" and that's about it. Which is scary. Yes. That's the word for it. Scary.

I jump a little when someone knocks on the door. A soft knock. Respectful and gentle. It surprises me more that the person waits. Waits for me to say it's okay for them to come in.

"Jes."

I wipe my hand over my face because my "jes" sounds very much like I'm a non-English speaker. And even when you are a non-English speaker, you try to just stay quiet so people can't hear it, you know? Hear that you live in a place where everyone speaks one language and you--a person who has been here for a long time--do not.

I feel my pulse quickening. My chest is moving up and down, hard. I want to have a voice. I want to be able to say what I need to say but  know I probably can't. And I'm scared that something is wrong that won't get checked because I can't explain.

I can't explain.

My face is burning up and my eyes feel like they want to cry. Filling up with tears already because I am tired and scared and already giving up on the chance that I'll get to say what I need to say. For me. For my body. Then I feel myself getting mad inside for not knowing more English. But that is just too much to think about so I drag a deep breath of air as the door creeks open. . . .

I see her hand first. Brown skin. She is a black person. Then, I see her face. My eyes sting a little bit more. She does not appear latina to me. But her eyes are soft and nice. Like she cares. Like maybe she is one of the ones who will call the interpreter. Or at least care.

"Señora. . . .Martinez?" she says.

I nod and smile.

"Hola, Señora Martinez," she continues with a bright smile. "Me llama Doctora Higgins." Her accent was easy and her Spanish didn't sound forced. But I've been fooled before by those kinds of greetings. I mouth back "hola" and that's about it. I don't want to get my hopes up. But then, she reached out her hand for mine and shook it. Like I deserved her time and her attention and like she was glad to help me. That's what that handshake said. And it was soft and kind and respectful.

Just like that knock on the door.

She sat down and looked at me once more with those soft, kind, respectful eyes. Then. . .she started speaking to me.

And then the rest? The rest was like white noise. No. Not white noise--something even better. It was like music. Upbeat, pleasant music. Salsa music. Familiar music. The music in my backyard on Sundays with family. With people laughing and dancing and shaking their hips. The kind that makes you feel warm and good and safe. Yes, that. Safe.

This lady with the brown skin that wasn't latina who knocked softly on the door spoke Spanish. Fluent Spanish. But more than that she was kind. And patient. With me. With my concerns. Like they mattered. Like I mattered. Even though I don't speak English so much.

And she was gentle when she examined me, too. She didn't talk in English codes a lot to another person in front of me either. But when she had to, she explained and let me in one everything being said. She did.

My eyes filled with tears the moment she stepped out of the room. They ran down my cheeks and landed on that faded blue hospital gown in big splashes. Tears of relief, of joy. Of gratitude. With her and also with the universe for my stroke of luck this day at Grady.

So it turns out that there was an explanation for how I was feeling and Doctora Higgins gave me a medicine for it and scheduled me a follow up appointment. She also helped me make sense of it, too. I felt so much better knowing, too. I sure did.

When I left the clinic to get my prescription filled, I bought a lottery ticket. Because once you hit the jackpot once, chances are that, just maybe, it's your lucky day.

Jes.

***
Happy Friday.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

First person chronicles, Chapter I: Urban legends.




It isn't like they say it is, you know. Like, this whole urban legend of it being like someone stuffing you into a cannon and exploding you straight out into the sky is actually just that. Legend. I think the folks who never tried it before are the ones that make those kinds of stories up.

Like just yesterday when I was on the MARTA train and heard some older lady talking about how people who smoke rock do it because they're always trying to chase that very first high. "It's like they go crazy, " she told her friend. Then she went on and on with more bullshit that I'm sure she didn't know first hand. And it was sort of pissing me off the way she kept talking with so much authority like she was the damn Surgeon General on street drugs or something. I started to lean over that plastic orange seat and give her an earful. Like a mean, cussing, one. But instead I just stared straight ahead and spoke loud enough for her to hear me.

"That--what you just said--ain't really true."

She swung her head from side to side like it's no way possible I was speaking to her. So I repeated myself. "That's not the truth what you saying. Obviously, you ain't never got high."

And would you believe that old lady was so stunned that she didn't even bother to respond to what I said? I guess she looked at me and made up her mind not to fool with me. Like a person riding in one of those open door buggies in a wild animal park where you ain't s'posed to feed or touch the wild animals. But me? I ain't no wild animal. Regardless of what I look like, I'm not.

I'm really just a regular person. A regular person who got caught up.

You might define regular as going to college and being filled with what everybody thinks is promise. Well. I didn't go to college but I did finish high school. I had me a good job with some benefits, too. That said, I could still be regular without all that. To me, regular mean you got your head screwed on and you have a damn clue. I did have a clue, too. I did. And I still do.  It's just that over time, I got caught up. And now I'm like I am now.

Anyways.

I had just got off the MARTA that day when I started to feel I was losing my breath every time I tried to walk. I'd walk for like a few feet then have to stop. Then my chest started tightening up. I knew enough to get back on and ride down to the Georgia State station right by Grady. With what I'd smoked that morning, I wasn't sure what this all meant but I wasn't gonna wait forever to find out.

Most of what they said flew over my head. I guess they think I had a light heart attack and all of it they relate to me smoking. So they talk at me and scold me and all that like that's all it would take. And me, I just sort of tune it all out because it's almost as annoying as that old lady on the MARTA.

There was one person I liked, though. This little medical student who works with my doctors came in my room every day asking me all about my life.. Like, she wanted to know about the first time I ever used crack and like, what all was going on when it happened. She seemed like she for real wanted to know, too. Then she made a reference to that same thing everybody is always saying that ain't true about running behind that first big rush.

"That's not how it is," I told her.

Her eyes got all big like saucers. Then she said, "Tell me, then. What is it like?"

I sat and thought on it for a few seconds then I asked her a question. "You ever had sex with somebody that you know you ain't got not business having sex with?"

Lawd. What did I ask that for? That child turned fifty shades of crimson when I said that. And I swear I wasn't trying to embarrass her. I was just trying to find an analogy that fit and, hell, she looked grown. At least, grown enough to be in medical school which means she already went to college before that.

"Look," I went on without making her answer, "it's kind of like the first few times you have sex with somebody. Especially somebody that you ain't got no business getting with. The first time, it's mostly that you are caught up in the moment or curious. It's not necessarily great but you find yourself thinking about what you did. Next thing you know, you made up your mind to try it again. 'Fore you know it, you can't stop yourself."

"So . . .  no crazy fireworks? Or like a really intense first high?"

"Naaaah. That's that bullshit people always feeding the world about crack. It ruins your life slowly. Like somebody ripping pages out of a book or pulling hairs from out of your head. Take you a minute to notice, you know? But once you do? Man."

She got that. It made sense to her and I could see her wheels turning.

That medical student sat and talked to me for two whole hours. She made me feel better than anybody else on that team. Maybe since she was't busy or maybe it was just that she knew how to not seem busy that I liked her.

She came back and told me that I didn't have a full on heart attack. The heart doctors had thought about having me do the test that checks to see if you have blockages in your heart vessels. But then when they heard I was still using crack, they shifted the plan. At least that's what I think.

Now, I get to go home. Which, at the moment, I'm not so sure what that's gonna be. And even that, not knowing where you really live, isn't like what people think. But that's another story for another day.

So anyways. My point in all of this was really just for you to know that the only way to know about the  real deal stuff happening with real patients is to just ask them. And if you want to know the real parts of the things that are mostly urban legends, it's best to ask the legends themselves. You find out some cool shit that way.

I'm just saying.

***
Happy Thursday.

21 Days of Storytelling.

This random selfie in my Deanna original scarf makes me happy.


Work has been crazy. Busy, yes. But also just emotionally taxing, man.

Sigh.

I can tell it's been getting to me because I have all these half written blog posts in my queue that haven't been finished. Almost like a bunch of sandwiches with two bites out of them. But, like nourishment with food, writing feeds my soul. Yes, it does.

And so. Here is my challenge to myself. For the next 21 days, I'm going to write something each day. A story, poetry, something. Work my literary muscle out. And the point? Well. I guess the point is to write. Write, man. All in an effort to replenish me in that way that only writing can.

Yes. Yes!

I feel tired. Which makes the challenge even better. I also want to be brave, too. And . . .I don't know. . .just willing to try things in my writing. Or flesh out quirky thoughts, man. That's also stifled me a bit as of late. You know? I'm just thinking. It doesn't have to be that heavy, man. Writing is like running. The best way to run is to run. The best way to run well is to keep running.

And so it is with writing. So . . .no more over-thinking it. This is a nudge to just do it.

Just Do It. Ha.

Now that I think of it, even though I'm a runner now, I've never gotten that runner's high that everyone keeps talking about. But the writer's high? Man, oh man. That I HAVE felt. I've had moments that seemed just like a sky rocket in flight and an afternoon delight all rolled into one. Where I couldn't stop myself.

Nope.

And so. Tonight I will sleep. I will write in my dreams and stick post it notes all around my heart. Then, at some point, I will write. And by "at some point" I mean starting tomorrow. I'll do my best to stick with it for 21 days.

Why? Because that's what feels right in my universe. And not writing feels awry.

Yeah.

***
Happy late-night Wednesday mostly Thursday. Kinda excited.

Oh yeah. Forgot to tell you guys this rad thing. Or wait, did I? I can't remember. On August 10 I wrote an essay about how losing Deanna to heart disease changed me as a physician. I submitted it to JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) on August 11--Deanna's birthday. Well. It was accepted for publication and guess when the manuscript went live on line? November 16. One day after the two year mark of her passing--and in the Cardiovascular Disease special issue, no less.

You know what? I'm proud. And I know she is, too.


Regrettably, the full text version is only available with subscription to JAMA or access through a university library. But I knew y'all would want to hear about this either way.

***
Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Ides of November.



Yesterday was November 15. Two years to the day after we entered the new normal of life without Deanna. At least, life without her in the flesh. I'd say that's a good segue actually. It's been hard not being able to call her up or see her face or hear her hearty laughter. But the truth is this: It isn't "life without Deanna."

And, if it's up to us, it never will be.

This year it fell on a Saturday. The "it" being ides of November, that fateful marker of it all. And since the family's motto has been "more glad than sad," we all did things that were meaningful in her memory. See, Deanna always believed in punctuating important moments with fellowship and loving gestures. For her, the love was always in the details. A day of moping about alone, fielding text messages and emails by responding with nondescript emoticons wasn't an option.

Nope.



My day started out exactly as I wanted. The sun rising slowly into the sky of  a crisp autumnal day and a quiet house. I sat on my couch alone, closed my eyes, and prayed. Mostly, it was a prayer of thanks for having the chance to know and love Deanna and for not just surviving, but thriving in ways that I believe would have made her very, very proud. I prayed for my parents and for every parent who knows what it feels like to lay their own child to rest. I recognize the unnatural order of that, and how the grieving process of a parent who has lost a child is so exponentially different than that of losing a sibling. In that quiet time alone, I vow to remember that and I petition God to give my parents as much peace as is possible.



I asked some of my sorority sisters who pledged in the same collegiate chapter as me if they'd join me for an early morning run. I knew I wanted to get my heart pumping early on November 15, but also that  doing so in the fellowship of Delta girls would please my sister. She loved seeing people united and the sentiment of something like a "Tuskegee Delta Girl" group run would never have been lost on her. And you know what? Despite me asking for them to join me at an oppressively early time on an even more oppressively cold morning, they did.

They did.



And so. Tamika W., Ishan M., Valencia M., and Natalie K. all bundled up and flanked my sides as we did this kindness for our cardiovascular systems and our souls. We laughed. We talked. And, at one point, there were a few tears. Mostly from me when I thanked them for being with me  and how much I needed them that day. I appreciated them and I needed them to know it.

Yes.




We had such fun. It was exactly what the doctor ordered and felt like the most perfect chicken soup for my soul. Yes, it did.


I channeled my inner Deanna and ordered a little souvenir to give them commemorating our run that morning. Yes. Ordered it--which is usually the kind of thing I'd never have my act together enough to do. But Deanna? She would have been all over that.

Yep.



In our chapter, especially as pledges, we sing lots of songs and make many references to ducks. It's not necessarily unique to Tuskegee, but is something I've noticed we emphasize a bit more than others. And so. A run with my fellow Gamma Tau chapter initiates seemed fitting for the little token I found--a little red ducky covered in hearts. Yes, hearts.

I cried when I gave it to them. The symbolism of it, the sacrifice they'd made, and just the whole idea of it all. What could be more important in a sisterhood than this? Being there when a sister needs you. This? This made me feel so  . . so. . .full in side. And probably always will.



I'm so glad we did that together. Tamika suggested we do an annual Gamma Tau Deltas Duck Run from here forward. I told her it's a date.




After that was football. Zack's team was in the semifinals and fought hard in a very painful loss in overtime. It hurt my heart to see him crying so hard, but some part of me loved the passion it represented. Deanna would have been the loudest of all at that game.

I thought of her a lot this season. Her energy, her zeal for supporting family at sports events. I cheered for us both this season. (My alter ego, Kimmy T., is really a hybrid of Deanna and me. LOL.)



Harry let Zachary know that he'd left it all on the field and that he was proud of how hard he'd tried. And how much of himself he'd given. I told him that if he hears thunder later, it's because his auntie is applauding from the heavens. He'd given his best effort -- his very best effort -- and that was all anyone could ask for. I even felt like I'd made a better effort to support him, too. As Deanna would--through those loving details like ordering green mini megaphones for the moms, getting the whole crowd going, and never, ever missing a game.



That's a good metaphor, now that I think of it. Leaving it all on the field, you know? I think that's why Deanna affected so many people. She lived her life so big and bold. She loved hard and intentionally and never left people guessing about where they stood with her. When you asked her to do something, if she could, she did it. And she did it with such enthusiasm, such attentiveness and love. How exquisite is it to have lived a life where others can say that you left it all on the field?



Of course, it feels so abbreviated, her life. We imagine what more she could have done and mourn that loss. But when I think about how well she played her life, I can't be mad. With her love, there was never any pass interference. Her aim was always spot on.

Yeah, man.



The rest of the family did special things, too. Will and Fran had the "Auntie Dee's Lemon Drop" martini at Rivals, the restaurant Will owns. Earlier that day, he and his son David played their "First Annual Auntie Deanna Father-Son Golf Outing." Which, as you can see, was perfect.



JoLai and Poopdeck went on a hellacious hike up in Baldwin Hills yesterday. Dad sent this pic of them with the caption: "At the top of the hill and still lovin' Plinko!"  We all smiled when we saw it since Plinko was his pet name for her. It also made me happy to see their hearts pumping, too.



Mom was exactly where she needed to be. At the place that gives her the most solace--the ocean. A group of her good friends joined her down at Siesta Key and when I spoke to her she sounded peaceful and happy. Which made me happy.




And so. Yes. It's been two years since Deanna made her transition. But I'm happy to report that the kids are still alright. Love doesn't die. It doesn't. And since we know that, we are all still more glad than sad. And pressing on to live our lives with purpose and especially, when it comes the legacy of love when have to give. . . . leaving it all on the field. Just like she did.

Yeah.




***
Happy Sunday. Are you leaving it all on the field? If not, why?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I touched a dream.


  
Exchange this week with a Grady elder:

"How you doing today, sir?"

"Magnificent. Encouraged. Excited about the future."

"Wow."

"Feel like if I jest reach my hand up I can touch a dream. You know why that is?" His eyes twinkled when he said that.

"Hmmm. Why sir?"

"Because I can. That's what I love about gettin' up in age."

Then, he reached out, touched my arm with his leathery hand, and he smiled. And me? I smiled right back. And that was that.

Later on while driving home, I reflected on that moment and smiled again. Then, I cried a little bit, too.

Yeah.

This? THIS is Grady. This.

***
Happy Thursday. Love is the what.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eight is enough.



"She isn't happy with our plan," my resident said. "I know you spoke to her at length already, but she's asking to speak to you again. Actually, she's sort of demanding it."

I felt my shoulder starting to sag as I stood in the hallway listening to her request. Partly because of the heavy bag I was already carrying in preparation to leave for the morning, but probably more just at the idea of going back into what had already been a pretty energy-sucking encounter to begin with. Instead of speaking, I just let my head fall back as if it could no longer be supported by my neck. Then I winced and squeezed my eyes closed. Kind of like Isaiah did just yesterday when he finished his homework and I insisted he read a book after.

My coat was already on. Zipped up to the top with a satchel on my right shoulder, too. My cell phone was in my hand and buzzing in response to the messages I'd shot out in anticipation of heading over to my office. Clinic had been busy that morning and the patients less straightforward than usual and challenging. There were a lot of resident providers with us that morning, too, so our normally social atmosphere was replaced with hustle bustle, scurrying about and very little time to even print out a prescription, let alone catch your breath. And Ms. Faison--the last of our patients that session--was probably the most challenging of them all.

You see, Ms. Faison wasn't happy. Not on this day, she wasn't, or even in general. With wretched osteoarthritis in her knees, she really needed not one but two knee replacements. The problem was, though, that Ms. Faison had smoked for many years and now had developed pretty advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Putting her under general anesthesia could potentially be life-threatening. Further compounding things was her weight. She was more than just a little bit out of range. The three hundred plus pounds she bore on those rickety knees would likely not allow for the best outcome if placed upon surgically replaced ones. So none of this was good news which made Ms. Faison even unhappier than her baseline unhappy.

To make matters worse, she was in pain. Pain that wouldn't respond to our medium guns like ibuprofen or naproxen or even those arthritis-fighting salves that we cross our fingers and hope our patients will like. The doctor she had before this resident placed her on a narcotic pain medication which seemed to mostly get the edge off. And that wasn't really that inappropriate given the severity of her join destruction and the unanticipated surgical intervention to improve it.

As a part of the agreement to put Ms. Faison, or any patient in our care, on long term narcotic pain medications, the patient and doctor form a very specific contract. Right up front, it's explained that narcotic pain medications have to be taken exactly as prescribed and not mixed with alcohol or other illicit drugs. A discussion about the habit-forming nature of narcotics makes them tricky, so the doctor and the patient must both be super-judicious about how, why, and when they're given. Of course, if the medication causes issues or is in need of a potential dose adjustment, the patient and doctor agree to talk about it and reach an agreement without any unilateral increases from the patient's end. So after all of that discussion, the patient agrees to adhere to taking the medications per instructions, not to mix them with other things, or share them with other people. (Yes, that happens a lot.) The doctor agrees to avail him or herself to the patient should concerns come up. And usually, this--the "pain contract"--goes off without so much as a hitch.

Unless you're in that small percentage like Ms. Faison who gets taken off of narcotic medication due to breaking said contract.

Some folks don't have good intentions from the start with the medications. Their plan all along is either to pop them like candy or sell them for money. The Pollyanna in me refuses to believe that this is anywhere remotely close to most patients' gameplans. Regrettably, those folks make it harder for the others. Especially once a provider gets "burnt" by one.

But Ms. Faison wasn't one of those people. She was just in pain. She'd been given a certain number of pills that she started doubling and tripling up on because her knees hurt so bad. She ran out ten days before she should have and borrowed some other kind of controlled pain medication from a neighbor. And a little bit of cocaine, too.

Now. Before anyone thinks I'm judging her, please know that I wasn't. She was fully honest about all of that--including the cocaine--and said that she just "felt like shit" and was tired of it. We'd already known that she'd been a weekend recreational drug user remotely, but thought this was behind her. When a urine drug screen revealed cocaine metabolites along with detecting some other things that weren't in line with her prescription, that ended her contract. Which meant no more prescriptions for anything stronger than motrin 800mg.

Yup.

So she'd still come for her blood pressure pills and diabetes medications as scheduled. But all of that would be suffocated by the circuitous discussion about her disabling knee pain that we wouldn't help her with. On this day, she'd been in the room crying to me, begging for us to check her urine to prove that she wasn't taking any drugs and to please, please reconsider putting her back on narcotics. "It was a mistake," she pleaded, "and I learned from it. I can't live like this. Help. Please."

And you know what sucked the most? What sucked the most about it is that I believed her. And I still believe her. Like, I truly don't think Ms. Faison was out fattening her pockets with cash for loose Percocet pills nor do I think her visits were all a part of some diabolic plot to get high. I don't think she'd relapsed into a downward cocaine spiral and I honestly believe that everything she told me about her lapse in judgement was from being delirious with pain.

But.

All of that had happened less than four months before. And, frankly, she'd tied our hands. Which meant there was very little we'd be able to do to alleviate this pain that was destroying the quality of her life. And that? That sucked.

So I'd already talked to her about this. Sat there and did my best to be empathic as she wept. Trying my hardest not to feel like shit from knowing that when she left she just might feel so hopeless that she buys a five dollar rock on the way home to escape it all. I didn't rush her either. We'd spoken for more than twenty minutes that morning about all of this. So the idea of being asked to go back and talk to her some more? Just as I was preparing to get out of there? Well. Let's just say I wasn't too excited about it.

"Oh, Dr. Manning, I already told Miss Faison you left," spoke one of the nurses from down the hall. "Because I thought you had gone already." That same RN saw me as I slipped into my coat five minutes before so I nodded in her direction and then looked back at my resident.

"I don't know what else to say to her," I said.

"Me either. Maybe it's a gift that Ms. Caldwell thought you were gone. Let's just leave it be." My resident was obviously frustrated. Before I could respond, she'd already headed back over to the computer bank to finish her charting.

I decided not to overthink it. I knew it was a bit disingenuous but my reluctance to reenter another twenty minute discussion with the same endpoint won over the sword of honesty. I secured my bag on my shoulder, checked my phone once more, and headed out toward the stairwell.

My head was down looking at my text messages as I leaned against the exit door in preparation to go. I was startled when I heard Ms. Faison's voice. "They told me you was gone."

I could feel my face warming up from being caught in what originally wasn't a lie but had become one. "Um, yes. I'm sorry about that. Ms. Caldwell thought I had left already, Ms. Faison."

"I had asked to talk to you again. They didn't tell you?"

I looked down at my feet and felt my shoulders melting down like ice cream on a hot day. I lifted my eye to hers and spoke. "Let's talk, Ms. Faison. How can I help you?" There. That was all I could do at this point.

"What I'm 'posed to do, Miss Manning? Just be hurting all the time? Just miserable?" She wasn't mad. No venom shot from her lips and no angry scowl was wrapped around her face either. She wasn't mad. She was sad.

I sighed hard and dropped my bag to the floor. Pressing my lips together, I thought before speaking for a moment. "Ms. Faison? This whole thing is making me feel so sad, too. Because at this very moment, I don't know what to do. I really don't. Like, I think that eventually, some day, we might be able to work out getting you back on something stronger. And last time we injected your knees with steroids but really, you need knee replacements. But right now you can't have that surgery so . . . I just. . . yeah."

That's when she started crying again. This hopeless cry that broke my heart into a million pieces. I reached out and put my arms around her and hugged her. I didn't know what else to do.

"I wish I didn't have to deal with this," she sobbed.

"Me, too," I whispered back. And I just let her cry and rubbed her back and hoped that somehow, some way when all of this was over, that she'd feel cared for enough to keep coming back and to not make any desperate choices.

"What can we do, Miss Manning?"

"I was just thinking. It's been more than a year since we spoke to the orthopedic surgeons and the anesthesia people about you and knee replacements. And actually, I wasn't the one who spoke to them personally. Why don't we try that again and see if there is any chance you can get something done."

She seemed to like that. I wasn't sure if it would work, but in that moment I did realize that this idea of her never getting surgery was mostly something I'd gleaned from other doctor's notes.

"I know a lady bigger than me that got her hips done. And she used to smoke."

"I can't promise anything, Ms. Faison. But I agree that maybe there is something that they can do that I'm no aware of. I'll call them myself, okay?"

She nodded while patting her cheeks with the sleeve of her shirt. "Okay."

"In the meantime, though. . . . we'll have to keep working with the alternating tylenol and ibuprofen and the capsaicin knee cream. What do those get your pain down to?" I was referring to the one to ten pain scale that she knew quite well.

"Most days? Like a eight. Some times, though, it can get to a five or six."

I sighed and twisted my mouth. Because I really didn't have anything else I could do at the moment. "Okay." That's all I could say.

"I guess for now, eight gon' have to be enough." I hated that thought but it was true. But surprisingly she didn't look as sad as she had before. "Miss Manning?"

I raised my eyebrows. "Ma'am?"

"Something about you jest dropping that bag and stopping what you was doing, though? Something about that give me a little hope. And it's funny but it kind of took my mind off this pain."

My eyes started prickling when she said that. I was still feeling a bit ashamed for trying to scoot out under the radar earlier. But mostly it was because, like her, I felt better after that exchange, too. And a lot more hopeful.

"Oh, Ms. Faison. I so want you to feel better. I do. I hate knowing you're in so much pain." And I told her that because I meant it. "But fight with me, okay? Fight all the stuff that will make it harder for us to take good care of you, okay? I know it's not as simple as me saying it. I know that. But you're strong, Ms. Faison. Stronger than me, that's for sure. Let's fight, okay?"

"Okay. Plus, I been through worse." And since I've known her for a while now, I knew that this was true. Her life wasn't an easy one and this, comparatively speaking, wasn't the worst thing she'd faced. And you know what else? Now she was smiling. Smiling in my direction in that same back hallway when she said that.

Which made me want to cry even more.

I gave her one more hug and watched her disappear down the hall. Just before I could get out of the clinic, nurse Caldwell caught my eye from the other end of the corridor. "Oh no. You still aren't gone?"

"No, ma'am. Ms. Faison caught me so I was speaking to her."

Ms. Caldwell widened her eyes and then looked at her watch. "Oh. . . .I'm sorry about that Dr. Manning. It's almost 1:15."

"That's okay, Ms. Caldwell. It was meant to be."

She chuckled and went back to what she was doing and, finally, I left.


No. I don't have all the answers. I don't. And I'm pretty certain that Ms. Faison is still somewhere wrestling with her pain in her knees that is probably an eight on a scale of one to ten. But this idea of raging against my own impatience and increasing the dose of empathy as the yet untapped therapy in all of this gave me hope. Real, true hope.

For her and for me.

Nope. I don't have the panacea to allay those gigantic physical, systemic and psychosocial maladies that many of my patients like Ms. Faison must face in their quest for wellness. But maybe, just maybe, I have more than I realize. And perhaps, if I think of it that way, eight will never have to be enough. Maybe.

Yeah.

***
Happy Wednesday.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Volkswagen Chronicles, Part I: Spring Brake.


Spring 1989


"What you doing in here? I don't know if I've ever seen you in the Engineering building!"

That's what Horatious, one of my older sister Deanna's study buddies said when he saw me wandering aimlessly through those vacuous halls. Even though I, too, was a student at Tuskegee University, he was right. As a Biology/Pre-Med major, I had no reason to ever set foot in that building. That is, until that day.

"Um," I replied while looking around nervously, "um. . . I'm trying to find. . .um. . . "

"Who? Deanna?"

All I could do was nod my head.

"We had our midterm for Math 461 and she finished it already. I think she left." I raised my eyebrows and began to shuffle out the door. "You finish all of your exams?"

"Uh, yeah. Yesterday." I was still whipping my head all around, partly because I wanted to find my sister but equally because I didn't. Of course, I know I needed to find her to tell her what had just happened. But the new asshole that she would subsequently tear me once I did had me scared.

For real.

See, here's the thing: That day started off beautifully. Lord knows it did. The sky was painstakingly blue and it seemed like God himself had reached out and painted each leaf on each tree with an extra stroke of green. Hearts were light all week, especially on this--the Friday punctuating midterms and serving as the green light to that glorious week that we'd all been waiting for--Spring Break.

No question, Mechanical Engineering was a harder major than Biology. My midterms ended that Thursday with a rather whopping chemistry exam but otherwise they'd been a cake walk compared to the massive amounts of calculus, physics and chemistry that Deanna had to muddle through before the week's end.

Deanna and I were roommates at the time in a little off campus house on the main thoroughfare into our  college town. Just steps away on a near side street, our brother Will stayed in another quaint house nestled at the top of a street on a steep hill. Will was still in Veterinary Medicine School, so it a really magical time for all of us (especially the following year when JoLai joined us as a freshman!)

But I digress.

There is a point to all of this which I will get to if you stay with me. So check it. That morning, since I'd already finished my exams, Deanna had a friend pick her up and take her to campus. She was kind enough to leave the car at home just in case I needed to go anywhere. And mostly, I didn't have anywhere to go, but I did appreciate the gesture.

Mmm hmmmm.

Okay, so I need to mention that this VW Beetle had a couple of issues that I laugh out loud about now because, for whatever reason, they didn't seem like a big deal to us back then. Okay, so one of the quirks of this Bug at the time was that it had some starter issues. The only way to start it was park it on a hill and let it get a rolling start. And I swear to you, we managed to deal with that for several months like it was no problemo whatsoever.

Enter the big A hill on Reed Avenue where Will lived.

Well. That hill was awesome because not only was it right across the street from our driveway, it was our brother's block, too. Every day, we'd park right by Will's place and roll out to school. . . like literally.

Ha.

Anybody who's ever driven any old five speed knows exactly what I'm talking about. Ha.

Okay, so back to that morning. Did I mention that I had nothing to do or no real place to go? Well. I did need to make a quick run to Walmart to get some toiletries for our planned jaunt over to Atlanta for Spring Break. We were too broke for any of those super shmancy get aways like you see on MTV. But we were pretty excited about breaking out of what would surely be a ghost town in a matter of hours with what little money we had. Plus Atlanta was hilly so we'd be able to start the VW Beetle with no problems, right?

Right.

So off I went to WalMart and was back home in no time. Like always, I parked the bug on the hill, grabbed my bag off of the seat, and headed back in to start packing my duffle bag. Deanna's exam was slated to be over in another hour, so I wanted to have everything done before I swooped over to campus to pick her up. And all was good in the 'hood.

That is, until the phone started ringing. And ringing. And ringing.

Now. This was in the pre-cell phone/pre-caller ID era, so phones were like Russian Roulette when they rang. You could either answer or let them talk for a bit into your answering machine. Otherwise, no way. But three times? In 1989? I figured I'd better pick up.

"Dude."

That was all I heard on the other end of the phone.

"Hello?"

"Kimberly? Is this Kimberly?"

"Yes. It's me."

"Dude. Oh man. Dude."

I finally made out the voice. It was Will's roommate Jody. And Jody like never in the everest of evers called us for any reason. So this? This was weird.

"What's up, Jody?" I asked.

"Dude. Is Deanna there?"

"No. She had an exam. I was just about to go get her."

"Awww damn. Dude. Duuuuude."

Now he was scaring me. "What? What is it?"

"Did you hear a noise?" he asked.

Funny. I had actually heard something about five minutes before but had no idea what it was. I'd even peeked out of the window to see if someone had been in a fender bender in front of our house.  "I might have, " I said. "What was it?"

"Dude."

"What?!?"

"Did you park Deanna's bug at the top of the hill earlier?"

"Yes. Why?" I thought for a moment and then repeated myself. "Why!?"

"Awww damn. Dude."

"Jody!"

"Dude. You didn't pull up the parking brake."

"Huh?"

"Dude. The car. It rolled down that big A hill. And that loud sound you heard was when it hit a big ass oak tree."

All of the color washed out of my face and pooled into a puddle at my feet. "What?"

"The car. It's wrapped around a tree. You won't be picking Deanna up in that car."

Before he could say another word, I'd hung up the phone and tore out of the door. Without even looking I sprinted across Old Montgomery Road towards Reed Avenue where I'd left the car.

Sure enough. . .it wasn't there.

But down that hill? Wrapped perfectly around a big ass tree was my sister's VW bug. Obviously a casualty of the hill gone terribly wrong. All I could do is stare at it, smack my forehead, and yell out f-bombs over and over again.

Our other roommate was kind enough to take me to campus so that I could break the bad news. Which, for the most part, would read as follows:

Hey sis! No spring break, no car, no nothing. I wrecked your bug. So we can't go anywhere. 

That script needed major revision. That is, if I wanted to live.

And so. Even when Horatious told me she wasn't there more I still tried my hand at the rest of the classrooms in that massive E building. Something about the courage and energy it took for me to come up there seemed like it would be good for at least a little bit of compassion.

Well. Turns out she had left. In fact, at least five people had already let her know that her little sister was looking all over for her in the Engineering building and that she "looked like she'd burnt down the house."

Yes. Someone said that to her.

As the story goes, I hitched a ride back home where I found Deanna already waiting for me. She had this look on her face like Liam Neeson in, like, every vigilante movie he's ever been in. Smoke rising from her nostrils with every breath. Teeth making gnashing sounds for no reason. Yes. It was as terrifying as it sounds.

As soon as I saw her, I jumped from being so startled. I thought I'd at least have a few more moments to gather my wits. No such luck.

"Um. Hey thitha!"

Ha. "Thitha." Dang. I haven't thought about that in years. "Thitha" was our whimsical way of saying "sister" to each other. We said it when feeling the most loving toward one another with this silly little lisp we'd infused. But "thitha" wouldn't do it. Not this time it wouldn't.

"Where is my car?"

Oh snap. She didn't even know yet? Yikes. 

My pulse immediately quickened and I swallowed super hard. When I opened my mouth to speak, I'm pretty sure it hinged open like a rusty door and nothing came out but squeaks. "Umm. . . "

"Kimberly! Where is my car?!"

And so. Instead of trying to really explain it, I just walked to the front door and had her follow me. Outside and across the street where she could see her car doing a sultry slow dance with a mature oak tree.

Man. She was so mad at me that she didn't even speak. Matter of fact, she just marched up the hill, went in the house, and slammed the door. For at least three of the four days of our "stranded in Tuskegee" Spring Break, that is pretty much how it was. Me looking goofy and sad and her completely ignoring my existence.

To this day, I have no idea how we got that car off of that tree. I know that somehow we did and that it eventually got fixed. Fortunately on VW Beetles, the trunk is in the front and the engine is in the back.

Man. That was the longest. blandest Spring Break ever in the history of college students. I've never been happier to see a bunch of folks return from a week away in my whole life. Especially after being imprisoned with your older sister who is so pissed off at you that she can't even look in your direction.

Yikes.

The good news is that she eventually forgave me and we'd go on to have many more fun times beyond that fateful week. But I can't help but chuckle at the comedy of it all.

Yeah man.

It's November. I'm missing my sister more than usual because I'm in the days that preceded her last on the calendar. I've allowed myself time to just sit and reflect on the many, many times we had. This one popped into my head the other day and made me laugh loud and hearty. It felt so good, too. I then remembered a few more funny things involving us and those VW Beetles and smiled again. Then, for just a few moments, I cried. But that felt good, too.


So what was I doing in the Engineering Building on a Friday? Trying to find my sister. Why? Because I sort of wrecked her car. But not really me. Well, yes me. But I wasn't in it. But still it was me.

Ha ha ha.

But she forgave me. She did. And even called me "thitha" again by the end of that crappy little week.

So all of this just brings me back to something I have kept on a post it note in my head for the last several days:

The days are long, but the years are short. 

Oh yes. Yes, they are.



Thitha? I miss you. So, so much.

***
Happy Friday. And hold on tight, okay?



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Just a few images of This American Life.



This will be a collection of very random shots taken over the last two weeks or so. The point of this? Hmmm. Let's see. The point is to notice your life. Because the days are long but the years are short, my friends.

And away we go. . . .

First up, a few shots of one of my favorite girls:






She's so photogenic. And she always stands still for me. I mean, mostly she does.


A few snaps of life inside of Grady. Took these yesterday while strolling the halls. Candid shots of happy people make me happy.



Don't these faces make you happy, too?




And here is Lucas G.--likely one of my favorite residents of all time. He snapped this in the stairwell and sent it my way the other day. I love it when people don't take themselves too seriously. Lucas totally doesn't.  I fancied it all up with this cool app called "Glaze."

Cool, right?

Here's another "glazed" shot that makes me really happy. From our last SG Delta dinner. This is Jessie P. having a big laugh at something. I'm not sure what.



Hmmmm. What else? Oh. This:

My boy running strong in his cross country meet last weekend. So handsome and dear, that boy.




I just love him.

Here's a snap taken the other week with Zachary and his uncle, Will. He'd just slept over my brother's house and was sad to be leaving. Hence the sour grapes expression.

Ha.



Two very good looking young men pictured below.



Football pics? Well. Don't mind if I do.

Let me introduce you to my alter ego, Kimmie T. She comes out on Saturdays and occasionally on weeknights. She is 100% turned up, 100% of the time. She knows all the latest dances and popular songs and is not afraid to encourage the entire crowd to join her.


Kimmie T. is a proud, card carrying member of the TMZ--Tucker Mom Zone. Yes, she will cheer for your baby, too. If and only if he is:

a. On her son's team.
b. Injured and getting looked at by someone.

The minute he or she gets up, it's a wrap.


Kimmie T. is possessed with a bit of crunkness channelled from Zachary's auntie Deanna. Voices get lost. And should I arrive at the game in a crocheted football hat?

Obvi.

Clearly Auntie Deanna was 100% turned up if she crocheted this! That woman!


I don't know if it's true or not, but somebody told me Kimmie T. was doing the cabbage patch dance, the running man, and the Bankhead bounce all within one quarter of the last game. Yup.




But let the record show: When Kimmie T. took the place of Dr. Kimberly M., things changed out there. The energy got kicked up a notch. The 7U moms began cheering in unison. And . . .dare I say it. . . we saw more wins.

I'm just sayin'.



Anyways. It is insanely fun. We have a blast, man.

What else? Hmmmm.

How funny is it that my friends' kids and ours think that they are actually in our fraternities and sororities? Here's Zachary on a random snapshot with twins Reggie and Ryan W. Our boys are pretty much convinced that they're Omegas and Ryan seems to have the Delta girl hands down just right at age 8. Here's them at football the other day.


Kimmie T. comes to the football games. But Dr. Kimberly M. comes to football practice. So snooty with her iPad mini reading and such.

*eyeroll*


Funny. Hmmm.

Oh. Oh man! How could I not have posted about the thing that has had me too tired to even post as of late?

Tuskegee's Homecoming was the week before last and man, oh, man was it EPIC. Yes, it was rough being down there without Deanna or my grandmother. But the sun was shining so brightly that it seemed like they were both smiling down on us. I kind of think they were.

This is the first sight I saw while driving in. It gave me warm fuzzies inside!


I had just bid my alter ego farewell in the car before I got there. Because CLEARLY Kimmie T. had to go to the FOOTBALL game before I could go down to our homecoming. Fortunately, it's only a 2 hour drive south to Alabama. Even with Kimmie T. and her shenanigans, I made good time after the 7U game ended.


One football game down, one to go! Next stop? Homecoming!!


Was sooooo happy to see my line sister Glencia. Hadn't seen her since we ran the Chicago Rock and Roll Half Marathon together. It was like old times within minutes.

Oh, and this. Why was it my first time paying to get into the homecoming game in 22 years? My granny's house had a cut through that landed you smack inside of the Alumni Bowl so clearly we always trekked through there into the game.

Even over the age of 40. How funny is that?


Those tickets cost $30!!!! The lady at the gate said, "Um, that's what it's been for years." At which point I dropped my head, handed my money, and decided not to say another word. Ha.

It was worth the 30 bucks for sure. Here's JoLai and I at halftime.




After the game was one of my favorite things. . . . .serenading in a big beautiful circle with my Delta sorority sisters initiated at Tuskegee. Isn't it a sight for sore eyes? And just look at that sky! And those historic buildings in the backdrop.

Le sigh.



And of course, those Omegas took over the campus avenue. Fortunately, Poopdeck did not decide to hop around with them. 

Whew.



 Dad and his "number" from Fall '84 got to get a snapshot. The Fall '84 guys were celebrating 30 years. Poopdeck was celebrating his 52nd year so had him by just a few years. Those number 12 dogs cleaned up nicely after all these years!



Some more of the 30th anniversary guys from Poopdeck's chapter. I love the tradition. Don't you? And that #12 was so excited to meet my dad. There aren't many #12s in that chapter over the years so it was quite serendipitous.

Speaking of numbers. . . . .here's me with my number. I'm spring '92 and she is spring '12. I have to say--to be 20 years before her, I'm not too shabby. Ha!

Loved meeting her. Hugs to you Jasmine A.!



Below--A great shot of my line sister, Falona. I've known her since we were 8 years old. Her dad, her mom and Poopdeck went to high school together in Birmingham. Then her mom and Poopdeck were at Tuskegee together! Love that we got to pledge together, too, after our pre-existing connection.

This was when I first saw her on the yard. Looking as fierce as ever!


Got to see my big bro on the yard, too. He brought the whole fam down which was super awesome.





Our Tuskegee tradition is so rad. I just love that about Homecoming.

Eventually we were pooped and had to head on back to Atlanta. I trailed Poopdeck and Tounces, which was fine with me since Poopdeck sprung for a Waffle House pitstop on the Alabama state line.





Woot!

Plus I needed to get back and get in bed. Why? Because I am a masochist and planned to wake up and run the Atlanta Ten-Miler that next morning.

Um. Yeah.

But not just me. At least two of my other fellow Tuskegee girls were joining me--both of whom also were out there wagging their Delta duck tails at the game the day before. Crazy girls indeed!

Tamika, Ishan and I made it from Tuskegee though. I have to say, it felt pretty bad ass that we did, too.




As for my race, I linked up with the bestie Frieda M. aka Free Free. FreeFree and I have so much fun at races together. I just LOVE that girl's energy. She's awesome.




Guess what? I even got a P.R. that day--personal record! Ran very close to an average of ten minutes per mile which is super fast for me. That course was insanely HILLY, too. I was proud of us.






It was another beautiful day. Perfect day for a P.R.! I even ran into one of my advisees from SG Gamma, Courtney C. She was way faster than her advisor, so I have no idea how I even saw her. Ha!



Oh snap! Almost forgot. Let me backtrack to the Friday before homecoming. Had an awesome gathering at Harry's restaurant, Mardi Gras Cafe that day with a bunch of my Tuskegee sorority sisters and friends.

We had sooooo much fun.



Aren't these girls beautiful? So ageless, those Tuskegee girls!



Glencia and I were showing folks what they'd get if they messed with us or our line sisters. Ha.

My JoLai was there! Woo hoooo!

And here I am teasing my line sister Marra when I first saw her. Why? Because this is what we do. Ha ha ha!

Kind of seems like Kimmie T. might have been a part of that. I'm not sure.







Lots of shenanigans, I tell ya. 

So yeah. Survived all that. It was as awesome as it looks, too. So awesome that it had me on blogging hiatus. But. The rule of blogging is to never blog about not blogging right? 

Right.

What else?

Couple of snaps from our Jack and Jill activity last week. 

 Loooove my fellow mom, Shaton M. She's become a good friend which makes me enjoy Jack and Jill even more. We have more fun than the kids!

Well, almost. Here are the boys of Zachary's second grade group.


A wild and crazy bunch, I tell you! 



You should be thoroughly exhausted now. I know I am.

See you soon, okay? 

***
Happy Thursday. From me and Kimmie T.