"There's no need to feel you're on your own
just let your intuition guide you through
Take one step toward what you believe
Don't be afraid to make your move
In my head, those words remind me what
Grandma said -- At times you'll feel a sting
There'll be sharp turns and uphills and closed doors.
This she said -- Hold onto your faith
'cause in this world you got to go and get yours. . .
So you stand up
and be strong
Go out there
To the real things that matter
'cause no one's gonna hand it to you on a silver platter."
~ from Brother Sister by the Brand New Heavies
Last weekend, Harry and I went to this big ol' summer soiree. The event was called "Sundresses and Seersuckers" and was the signature fundraising event for my husband's fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Held in an outdoor lawn amphitheater and planned with painstaking detail, everything from wrist bands to portable potties had been discussed, voted upon, and then rediscussed and revoted upon. The reason I know this is because Harry was one of the key organizers, and literally, this thing had our lives turned upside down for the last six months. As we drum-rolled closer to the big night, we both got a little obsessive compulsive about what we'd wear. I know, I know. . .it isn't necessarily an earthshattering problem to deal with, but stay with me. . .I'm going somewhere with this. . . . .
After a few weeks of perusing my favorite shopping haunts (that would be Target and Loehmann's--hello?) I finally found this amazing full length sundress and had decided to pair it with a special pair of feather earrings that had been handmade and given to me by Parissa, one of our recently graduated medical students. When I tried on the whole ensemble, I felt good and happy and confident and right. I even danced like Beyonce in the mirror a few times and would have done a few Lady Gaga moves if Zachary hadn't walked in.
Yep. I felt that good.
|On this picture my earrings make it look like I have a mullet, but trust me they're rad!|
On Friday evening (the eve of the event), Harry proudly showed me his seersucker vest and linen trousers--all pressed and ready for this lovely evening jazz event on the lawn. "Let me see what you're wearing, Babe," he said in the most unassuming way ever. And it was unassuming because he had no ulterior motive. He just wanted to see what I was wearing, too. And seeing as just the night before I was dancing like Beyonce, you'd think that I would have shown him in two seconds flat. But I didn't.
"No," I told him, "because I really like what I've chosen and if you're all like 'mehhh' when you see it, my feelings are going to be hurt."
Harry groaned and responded, "Ugggh! You are so sensitive! You know I'm going to think you look beautiful no matter what! Show me!"
I shook my head and didn't budge. "Nope. Anything short of your mouth falling open and drool coming from your mouth will be unacceptable, so no!" I started laughing and blocking my closet with my outstretched arms. "I'll be like a bride. . .where you'll have no choice but to tell me I look gorrrrrr-geeous when you see me tomorrow!"
Harry just shook his head in that way he often does when he used to say, "Crazy girl"--but doesn't say any more because I told him that calling me "crazy girl" wasn't nice. Just like I used to tell him that calling me "oversensitive" wasn't nice, so he stopped saying "oversensitive" and instead replaced it with just "so sensitive." I think those changes took place because I was being well. . . sensitive.
Harry is right. I am very sensitive. In fact, don't tell him this, but I will even admit that I'm even a bit oversensitive at times. I often hope I'm not hurting someone's feelings and then, if I think I did, I worry. I get choked up when patients are in the hospital for prolonged periods of time and they don't have flowers. So much so that I consider buying them some. But most of all I ruminate a wee bit too much over unexpected criticism. (The key word there is unexpected since most of my shortcomings I've spent countless hours already analyzing. . . um, yeah.)
Yeah, it's true. Despite how confident I might seem. . .ah hem. . . I'm sensitive like that. About some things.
Today, I'm feeling sensitive-- and maybe even oversensitive-- about something that I almost always feel very confident about: how I feel about my Grady patients. Working and teaching-- and then writing about Grady Hospital has been a joy that is indescribable. These narratives have allowed me to introduce you to the amazing people, moments, learners and lessons that I've been afforded for the last decade. . . .
I love Grady. And what makes Grady Grady is the people inside of it. . .the patients, the staff, the physicians, the students, the families. I try my hardest to make this blog a neverending love letter to Grady and to life. . . and an opportunity to pay those lessons forward. These feel-good moments are no longer just my own. . . now they have become those of someone else, too. And for this reason, I generally feel my most confident when wrapped in my cocoon of Grady stories.
Until today. Instead of my top ten, I wanted to share something that happened today that has me reflecting. I hope you don't mind. . . . .
Today, I received this comment in my comment box:
"Today will be my last day reading your blog. I think you are a gifted writer and I enjoy your writing style. However, although you may not see it, you degrade your patients from the (rural) South and make snide comments on their literacy quite often. I know that you write in this broken English to illustrate their vernacular but it's a bit rude to me. Your kids are now from the South - how would you feel if a Doctor questioned their literacy right off the bat? Made fun of their accent (if they were to have or develop one?) Best of luck in your future endeavors."
by Anonymous on You had me at "Oh, Hell No!"
At first I clicked "spam" and in my most don't care voice, decided that I'd just say "yeah, whatever." But because I believe that self reflection is important--particularly in the face of criticism--I allowed myself to ponder what this anonymous reader felt strongly enough about to type into Blogger.
I know that one of my girlfriends would say, "Girl, please! You are not about to address that are you? Don't even give it any airplay!" But that's not me. I am sensitive. And not just sensitive in that silly way I was about Harry liking my fancy feather earrings that were handmade by a med student-- but sensitive to an accusation that I degrade or make fun of a people and a place that I deeply and genuinely love.
So. I thought about those words. I read them and reread them again and let them sting my cheeks. I searched for the truth in them, sifting them like a goldminer's screened pan for some golden ah hah moment to emerge glistening like a precious metal in the sun.
Then, as sensitive as I am--I told myself what I know in my heart is the truth. It's not about a critical comment. It's all about Grady.
Sure, it makes me feel a bit bummed to know that someone somewhere thinks that I knowingly or unknowingly degrade or belittle my rural Southern patients (or patients from anywhere for that matter.) No, it doesn't feel good to think that creating the real voices of my patients when I write is offending someone somewhere. But. What I know for sure is this--those feelings aren't the ones that made me feel uneasy. It is only the thought that a patient or their loved one might feel that way, too. And I could be wrong, but my sense is that the person who wrote that well thought out comment--with all due respect--was neither of these.
And so. This is not a response to Anonymous' comment, although I deeply respect it and appreciate the raw honesty. (Hell, I wouldn't continue reading anything that I found offensive or degrading either.) So, for Anonymous, all I will say is that I have appreciated you reading, because I have.
Now. This part is a response. And please know that, no, this was not my first not-so-pleasant comment, and no, I don't agonize over everything. But this--this was different. So this response is for my patients at Grady and all of those somehow connected to this beautiful magical place that, day after day, serves as my home away from home, my church away from church, and my school away from school.
This month marks our ten year anniversary together. I can't believe it's been ten years, but the more I think of all that has happened in this time, the more I realize that it has been a decade indeed.
When we first met, I was a single girl about town. . .fresh out of a chief residency and slightly terrified of your larger-than-life persona, fire-breathing clinical settings, and legendary reputation for turning boys and girls into men and women. Ten years later, I am a wife and a mother of two. I'm a residency program director, a student advisor, and even someone who gets to be on television-- but still in many ways, that same little person . . . . still in awe of all that you encompass.
Early after I started here, I realized that I loved you. Maybe even before. Your imperfections, your laughter, your tears, your triumphs, your tragedies, and even your tendency to climb into the back seat of my car and ride home with me every single day. Yes, I loved you from the start.
It first began with stories to my family and to medical students. I'd tell them all the things you'd told me and taught me. I'd share your best jokes, making sure to get the punchlines correct and the comic timing just right. I couldn't wait to paint a picture of the stories you'd given me that tugged on my heart strings then and still some ten years later.
Because I loved you, I wanted them to first know you and then love you, too. The real you, you know? Not just the one that folks think of when there's been a drive by shooting or a three car pile up. But the you nobody really knows unless they pull up a chair, take off their coat, and get comfortable for a while. For this reason, I began writing about you and sharing you with the world.
At first, I agonized over parts of the introduction. Should I use your name? But how can I really do you justice if I don't? And so I introduced you by your God-given name. Fortunately, your "parents" were okay with that, and I have been careful about honoring their kindness in letting me do so. Next, I wondered about your voice. Should I let them hear your voice? I quickly decided that of course I should because your voice is beautiful. And even if sometimes it looks a bit odd to someone when they read and then hear your voice, the one I try my hardest to use is yours. To me, it sounds like music. . . .not funny or foreign or inferior. . . like music.
I apologize if I've ever said or done something that made it sound like I thought I was someone better than you, because you have to know--I do not. I try with all my might to show the piece of you in every single one of us, the piece of you inside of me. You just have to believe that.
Someone I introduced you to once said to me, "there are no 'those people'." I loved that comment because it embraces the best you have to teach. There are no those people. People, yes. But not "those."
Thank you for all you have done for me. Thank you for holding my hand, for allowing me to (almost) beatbox on a corner in my white coat, for letting me cry right there in front of you, for making me laugh so hard that I thought I would faint, for helping me to understand my own family better and most of all, for continuing to never have an end to what you teach me. You make me a better mother, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better doctor, a better teacher, a better believer, a better me. You've reminded me of what really matters. . . .and how to hold on to the real things that matter. . . .
. . . And I just have to believe that if you've done that for me, that every time I introduce you--yes, the real you-- to someone, you're doing it a little bit for them, too.
With love and gratitude,
Now playing on my mental iPod . . . . . .