Sunday, October 17, 2010

High Off Your Happy.

"Are you going to celebratory Grand Rounds tomorrow?" I asked my friend and fellow Grady doctor, Lesley M., one day a few months ago.

"Yep. I'll be there," she responded. Then she added matter-of-factly, "I was actually nominated for an award, so I guess it would be poor form to not be there."

"Um. . . yeah!"

"Sit together?"

"It's a date."

Every year, our Department of Medicine has this special Grand Rounds dedicated to celebrating the service, teaching, and mentoring of our faculty at Emory. The biggest awards of the year are doled out during this hour, one of which is called "The Outstanding Clinician Generalist of the Year Award." This one goes to the person the committee deems as the best general internist in all of the Department of Medicine (which happens to be a pretty darn big department.)

This year, my friend, Lesley M. was nominated for that coveted award. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting directly beside her at the program.


Let me give you some background on Lesley M. We both joined the faculty the same year, and have been great friends ever since. She could possibly be one of my favorite human beings.

Not only is she kind, smart, witty, and empathic, she's a great friend and an even greater mommy-slash-wife. She laughs at my dumbest jokes, and doesn't mind if I retell her a story that she's already heard before. She doesn't mind when I want to have lunch at Whole Foods instead of a shmancy restaurant, and agrees that the right pair of shoes can make you happy. And. She read my blog back when there were only two followers.

Oh yeah, and even though she's not the commenting type, she always says little things to me in the hallway to let me know that she's still reading.

Two Grady doctors

On top of all of those things, she is also an absolutely amazing clinician. Really. She effortlessly drops her knowledge like a stealth bomber; without a stitch of fanfare. She simply does her thing in her Lesley way, and that's that. And. She has a heart of pure gold that she cracks open like an egg right on top of every single patient under her care. Her easy confidence makes you want to be her patient, her friend, or both.

I think your favorite people should have a few qualities that you aspire to have yourself. If that's the case, Lesley M. is exactly what you want in a friend-slash-colleague. It made me happy to know that someone else thought she was just as great as I do (since I was not the one behind her nomination.)

And so.

We sat in the auditorium side by side. Lesley M. quietly perused the program; looking very calm-cool-collected in her very Lesley way. This unique mixture of genuine humility peppered with just the right amount of self-awareness to accept that she is a damn good doctor--so her. In my heart, she was already the winner. But still. I felt butterflies as we waited for the awards ceremony.

One of our senior faculty members was given the honor of announcing the recipient of this particular award. Instead of just ripping open the envelope and saying, "And the winner is. . . ." he instead chose to eloquently torture us and build up the suspense.

"Ever since she joined the faculty. . ."

Okay. It's a woman. It's a woman, okay.

". . .she has consistently delivered exceptional care to a population of patients that at times had been forgotten. . ."

Lesley totally does that. She was one of the founders of our Liver Clinic, devoted to treating patients with Hepatitis C. OMG. I hope it's her. I hope it's her.

". . .Under her leadership, the clinic she helped to start at Grady Hospital over five years ago is now one of the busiest in the primary care center and also the subject of thriving research. . . ."

Wow. It's her. It has to be Lesley.

The rest of his words swirled around the room like a complimentary ribbon floating behind an airplane. Then, suddenly, I was overcome with emotion. The more accolades he delivered, the more my eyes welled up with tears. Lesley says that I was doing "the pretty cry" -- but it took a lot of restraint and imagery of funny things to keep me from taking it somewhere else.

". . .It is with great pleasure that I announce this year's recipient of the coveted Outstanding Clinician Generalist Award. . .Dr. Lesley M."

By this point, I was losing the battle of snot and mascara. (You know, that point where you discover that the side of your palm isn't absorbent of tears and mucous? Yeah, that.) Lesley tells me that this was one of her favorite parts which she was careful to include when describing, in great detail, the entire moment to her husband, Rich.

Oh, and did I mention that the School of Medicine photographer kept snapping photographs of me crying and wiping snot through the entire announcement?

Ummm. . .yeah.


Today I am reflecting on how wonderful it feels to be a spectator when someone wins. Especially when you care about them, but even when all you know about them is that they're deserving. Celebrating the triumph of someone else is a special kind of high that happens to be one of the few habit-forming ones that this doctor would recommend. It's a great high. And best of all, the more you get of it, the more it makes you want to be better.

For this reason, I make it a point to nominate people for awards at least once per year (although Erica B. beat me to the punch on this one), and also do my best to be the one in the audience who completely embarrasses them with my hooping, hollering, and over-exuberant fist bumps. I've said it five trillion times before, and I'll say it again: Flowers are for the living, man. And if you think getting your own bouquet gives you the warm fuzzies, try giving one some time. Trust me. The minute you do, you'll know exactly what I mean.


So here's to you, Lesley M. . . . . . here's to the "pretty cry," and here's to the joy of seeing you win. Even though it ruined a perfectly good application of drug-store mascara, it was worth it. 100% worth it.

Take home point: The thing about celebrating someone's win is this--it immediately becomes win-win. Got it?

I'm saying: Lesley M. is the mother of the second grade child who took it upon
himself to create the above masterpiece: "The Dalai Lego."
Who does this??? By definition, his mom has to be awesome, right?
*Hebrew lesson courtesy of several of my favorite Grady doctorfriends, including Lesley M. :)

1 comment:

  1. Congrats Lesley M.!

    I loved this post. It's such a great feeling when that happens to someone you love. All the happiness and none of the pressure. :)


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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