Monday, August 1, 2011

Blogatrophy and BFFs

Warning: Late-night, non-spellchecked rambling ahead. 

atrophy:  partial or complete wasting away of a muscle or part of the body.

When I first started this blog, I wondered a few things. Like, would I consistently have anything to talk about? Would I stay with it? Would anyone other than the students in my small group, my sisters, and my parents even read it? And--the main one--would my words and intentions some how come out wrong?

I am just about one week shy of my second anniversary of starting this blog.  Honestly? I cannot believe that I've stayed with it so consistently for so long. I mean. . . it's not like I don't stick with things that I start. It's just that writing a blog takes time. If your heart gets into it, which mine absolutely has, you become very particular about its vision and how that translates into the finished product. You learn new tricks and find ways to spruce things up a bit. You go to other blogs and realize how non-schmancy yours is and how few readers you have or things like the fact that you don't blog anonymously and they do.  It's a funny little world, the blogging world.

You make "friends" with folks and share a little pieces of your world with them. Some of these virtual bffs (blog-friends-forever) follow the course of a lot of friendships.  You know. . . . the ones where it seems like, OMG, you have everything in common and you, like, hang out every single day.  Then one day someone says something that lightweight offends the other or they get too comfortable. Someone takes off their shoes and, SHUT UP, their feet stink or somehow some way the discovery is made that those same stinky feet are made of clay. One of you realizes that your friendship involves zero reciprocity and here you are doing all the visiting and sharing when the other has only been to your place like once.

Or it's not that deep. Maybe one bff gets busy or simply has new interests. Your bff used to have mornings open to chill with you over coffee, but now that they had-the-baby, moved-away, got-the-new-job, got-the-new-love, gave-up-electronics, started-a-new-exercise-program, got-in-med-school, finished-med-school. . . . whew. . . there just isn't time any more. See, like real friends, they love you, yes, and will surely text you on your birthday . . . . but as far has LOLing with you all the time, it's here and there.

Eventually life happens and it becomes there more than here.

Some of those bffs don't leave. They roll with the punches and evolve with your evolution and tell people behind your back that you are totally awesome.  They are loyal and consistent, even if they don't bring you flowers (read: comments) on a daily basis, but they are the ones that have you prominently perched in their favorites. In fact, some of them are so low key that you don't even know they have your back until you say or do something particularly vulnerable that makes them remove the invisible cloak for just a moment . . .only to slip back into the google-reader shadows.

It's kind of interesting.

I'm rambling about this because a lot of folks who read blogs don't actually blog. Those who do blog, get this. And those who don't, now you will, too.


Today I was looking at my entries and looking at my blog and asking myself questions. Almost like I was interviewing myself. This kind of blog introspection usually comes at certain points. . . like. . . when you notice that you've lost a follower or two. Or you post what feels like something that everybody and their mama should be high-fiving and relating to you on, but for whatever reason, they don't. It also happens when you check your blog stats and notice that the traffic has lightened up. . . or that your traffic is all from the same Google search that seems to yield one of your images.


You are feeling blogatrophy. Where you feel like your blogging muscle needs the P90X (or something to make you hotter.)

I've felt all of the aforementioned before. That tiny sting when that public follower clicks "stop following," the happy affirmation nestled inside of a comment, the let down of realizing your traffic is coming from something other than. . . well, you. As a matter of fact, I've felt all of this in the past week.

And so. What generally happens when I am in this place is this:

First, I second-guess everything.  Like. . . not enough medicine stuff?  Too family-oriented? Too spiritual for my agnostic readers? Not spiritual enough for my fellow believers? Too relaxed and non-straightlaced for those who link over from places like ACP Hospitalist or Internist? Too heavy for the ones who linked over from lighter URLs? Too tear-jerky or too preachy? Too goofy or too silly?

Finally, I get myself so wound up that I end with this: Why are you even doing this? Like, who do you think you are? And, like, why is this even important? Really, why are you even doing this?  Like, for real. . . why?

Then, I remember the words of Toni Morrison when she was asked why she wrote her first novel, The Bluest Eye:  

"So I could read it."

I wrote a whole post about this once and today I had to revisit it. I needed to chuck myself under my own chin and  remind myself that every single story helps me to grow and to walk in my purpose. And just maybe, it helps someone else to do the same. Or maybe not. But either way, it gives me a special place to honor my patients and my family and just life in general. Kind of like it let's me live my life like it's golden,  you know? I love the idea of giving someone else the chance to learn the lessons I'm learning and for us to talk about it and think about it together. But again, I write the things I need to read. . . the messages I need to hear. . . sometimes that day, but many times later. I'm sure no one reads this thing more than me.

Thank you for coming, going, staying, and leaving. Thank you for following, just-googling, commenting, lurking, de-lurking, laughing, crying, or whatever it is you do.  Because it's been enough. Enough to push me to keep at it for almost two whole years. To "go hard" (as Harry calls it) and to keep writing here for you to read, too. . . instead of into a Word document only or a spiral notebook on my nightstand.

So yeah.  Thanks.  I mean that, too.

That's all I got today.

Happy Monday.


  1. I don't have a blog, but appreciate the energy and perspectives expressed through yours, and am grateful to be reminded of the concept of writing what one needs to read...

  2. I read - and reread - every single post. I chuckle, I cry, I shake my head in disbelief, and I marvel at how well you paint pictures with your words. Your family posts are near and dear to my heart, and your random sightings (lady in the airport line) make me laugh out loud. But you know that my favorite stories always involve the Grady patients - especially the elders. Just keep writing. You'll always have at least one loyal and faithful reader - me! (Although I'm sure there are many, many more.)

  3. I have never had a blog but I enjoy reading. I am in the medical field as well (CHOA) & many of our nurses work at Grady. Everyday I want to ask do you know Dr. Manning? But I digress because then will come the questions of how do you know her? Blah, blah. Your stories bring me life. Seeing patients on a daily basis and only knowing the reason for their visit make me wonder what they are really going through, and why they do the things that they do. You blog give stories & answers. Thanks for blogging.

  4. I didn't find you until your second year of blogging, but between the studying and the tests and the kids and the stress and the general madness of life, I am trying to make it through as many of your older posts as I can.

    Your new posts... I can't miss a single one. I come here more than once a day (which is why I often feel like I have to state that I'm not a crazy stalker, because really, if someone came to your porch once a day to say a quick hello, that's one thing, but if they came during breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day, you might get a bit sick and tired of them! ;)

    I am not easily impressed, I have no idols, I am an iconoclast, I take the road less traveled, I find organized religion objectionable, I don't ride on bandwagons... and I follow your blog. Why? Because you are a person full of light and your blog reveals that you are perfect with all your imperfections... Because you do not ride into a hospital on a big ugly ego horse with a look of grandiose indifference in your eyes, you have the courage, the intelligence and the decency to do what you love and love what you do... because you care, and you measure your success by how much you give to this world and not by how much you can take away from it (even if you don't put it in those words), you love your children more than you love yourself... and lots of other reasons.


    P.S. While I was studying for that monster exam not too too long ago, I happened come across one of your older posts about taking the ABIM exam last year... You came with me to the Prometric center some days later, and you helped me calm my jitters as I pictured you sitting next to me and talking to your exam. It was a good thing there was no question on Nocardia on my exam, or I would have burst out laughing in the middle of that room! I meant to go back and post a comment on that post after I got home from the exam, but was too tired... so this is as good a time to tell you this as any.

    P.P.S. Things are about to get really REALLY crazy for me, so I may not comment as much, but be assured, I will always read and appreciate.

    P.P.P.S. I know it says "Post a Comment" and NOT "Post a Novel"... but I hope you won't be mad. :)

  5. I appreciate the balance/struggle you show and discuss between personal life and the hospital side. I'm a generation older than you but still balancing home life and an OP therapy practice. I love both sides! You resemble many of my clients in wanting to have a satisfying professional life and nurturing children while still striving to have important personal connections with a sweetie and pals.

    Thank you for sharing your life on this blog.

  6. You know, I think we all go through this. And then at some point, we realize that we need to write what we need to write. Period. That there's nothing else we can do. My numbers have been down too and partly, I think it's just summer. But it doesn't really matter in the long run. Are we here to collect followers or are we here to give our hearts in our words? I have no time or patience for bloggers who are absolutely out for numbers. Give-aways and contests and blah, blah, blah. Okay, every now and then a funny little give-away is fine but you know what I mean. I am too old and know too much to get involved in bullshit and I don't want to read bullshit either. Who has time for that?
    I want to read truth and sometimes truth is funny and sometimes it's tragic and sometimes it's dear and sometimes it's hard and sometimes it's wise.
    You, my love, are all of those and your words always give me something from your heart to mine.
    And- light and love are involved. Which, as you know, translates to godly to me.
    Okay. I'm done.
    Love...Sister Moon

  7. I've been lurking, but I read you all the time, and I love your blog. I think you have to be who you are--as a doctor (from your recent post), as a blogger, as a person. You will have friends or you won't. You will have followers or you won't. I have the feeling you're writing more for yourself as you say than for an audience. Put it out there, and they will come!

  8. Congrats on two years. It's a big deal. And your reason for doing it? Perfect.

    You are a talented writer and we are all so lucky that you share your writing with us.

  9. I get the whole blog readership thing- I've been doing it for six years and the ups and downs of readership is a curious thing. An overwhelming number of people read it when I was working with Mercy Ships and now it's back to the smaller numbers. That was a bit humbling :) I've only been reading your blog for a couple months (think I got it from Lisa Rosenberg, actually), and I'm glad you do it. Please keep speaking from your heart and your experiences. Thanks :)

  10. I figured blogging is cheaper than seeing a therapist every week sometimes more, so it personally "works" for me!! However, I'm not nearly as diplomatic and tactful as you are(which is why I don't use my real name)!

    It's pretty clear you're a fantastic Doctor, but some days I can't decide if you've missed a calling to be a writer or comedienne too, LOL!!!
    And like someone else previously mentioned, I'm enjoying reading your older posts, seeing your journey to this point.


  11. Well, Grady doc, you went and set down everything i was trying to figure out about my own blogging experience, nailed it in fact, except i am a couple of days ahead of you. i was right here, second guessing myself, wondering at the point of it all, needing comments to make me feel it was worth it after all, that i wasn't silly and who cared anyway, and and and.

    and what you said. but you know. we need to write. most of all, we write to process, to share, to find each other, to be there for each other, holding our arms open through the summer slump, when everyone is outdoors or traveling or wishing they were, and while they are still reading, they aren't saying much, and so we start to think they just aren't there.

    but i'm here. i am ALWAYS here. i love your blog, every single thing about it. whatever you put up, i welcome. you will never disappoint, because you are so authentically you, whatever you want to write here is fine with me. i am just glad i found you, that you let me into your circle, that you come visit me sometimes, and you let me be me. This is what I truly want to give you, the knowledge that you are a gift to us all, a pure heart and a bright light, and funny as hell, and sensitive and loving and committed and always always YOU.

    i hope you will keep posting whenever and whatever you feel like posting. we all need you. and i hope you'll forgive my feet of clay when they inevitably clomp through. i often think we all have feet of clay. it doesn't matter. in fact, i think it is what makes this whole journey so risky and sublime. i love you dear dr manning. write on. rock on. i am here.

  12. WHEW! I was afraid at first you were going to say you were discontinuing blogging.

    I am a lurker, every day. I share your posts with family and friends. My mother, niece (an oncology nurse) and I shed a tear over the "and this too shall pass" post. An inspiration.

    I really enjoy you blog. Please consider this a virtual basket of flowers from me to you, you are inspiring.

  13. Please keep it up. I love your writing, I love your viewpoint. Yours is one of my favorite blogs, which mean I look at all my feeds and save the best to read for last, so I can really read them and savor the content. In a world filled with people who blog about how perfect their world is and their life is and their children are, your blog is real. It's real life and I love it!!

  14. I would just like to thank you for blogging. I'm about to begin my journey as a Physician Assistant later this month. Reading your posts about your respect for your patients and how you care for them has been an inspiration to me. I am also a believer, and seeing how you integrate your faith into your practice is something I need to learn how to do in order to be the PA I want to be. I look forward to reading your posts, searching on an amost daily basis. Yes, I am a follower. :)

  15. Two years? Congratulations!

    This is one of my absolute favorite blogs, as I've told you before. You're a friend in my head. :) I can relate to everything in this post, and especially the blogatrophy (which, by the way, I thank you for defining). I often feel like my blog has no direction, but in the grand scheme, it reflects me perfectly.

    *queue MJ's "I'll be there* Coming here, I feel like I "know" you. Let somebody jump crazy up in here and I GOT you, boo! LOL!

    I, for one, am glad that you blog and as long as you write it, I will come.

  16. When I started reading this post my first though was "Oh No!!!! She is quitting the blog! This is her swan song!" I am so glad that it is not. I love reading your blog and I think you are so insightful and wise...and funny! I always think, "Man I wish I knew her in real life! We would be friends!" So, while I may not comment on every post, I definitely read every post you write. I found you this summer and I am stickin' around! Keep at it my blog friend, you brighten my day.

  17. I see no evidence for "blogatrophy" here. I came because I read a good number of medical blogs (physicians, nurses, patients, whatever), but I stay because I always get something out of reading: a laugh, a fresh perspective, even an occasional tear. The character of your writing is one that you don't often see on a blog; instead of hiding behind a cloak of anonymity like many do, you invite your readers into aspects of life that are intimate and real. Somehow you write about medicine and family in ways that touch the heart, which is an uncommon and wonderful gift. Consider me another lucky reader.

  18. I stumbled across your blog 2 weeks ago, and I have checked every day since for a new entry. Your writing is intelligent, hilarious and heartwarming. I'm a 3rd year medical student in Texas and I only wish I could have you as my advisor! Please never stop writing. You touch more people than you realize :)

  19. I thought you were going to say you weren't blogging anymore. I like those above will be reading for as long as you're writing. I think you're an awesome writer and a all star human being. I've never commented but come by your spot everyday to see if you have a new post.

  20. First I'd like to say thanks for sharing! Next, your blog has opened my eyes to so I connect with my patients, letting my baby go and spend some quality time with her Nanna in Louisiana, and going to see Sade in Charlotte because we missed her in the A. And that's only the summer! You're all of our "Grady Doctor" and we 'preciate you! :)

  21. I found you the day that 6yearmed closed up shop--you had made a comment and I had to do a doubletake when I saw the word "Grady" since I'm here too. I have to say that your blog is quite different than hers was and I love that you take a bit on life, a bit on medicine, a bit on parenting, a bit on friendships. Love it. I'm up north in the burbs without a lot in common professionally, but I have two small boys and I love listening to the elders in my life so I love reading about you listening to yours. Carry on!

    AKA (Allison) in ATL

  22. I check for you blog every day and enjoy every entry. I don't always comment but I ALWAYS read. Keep on keepin on.

  23. Awww dang, y'all. You know I saw all these comments and had to call my mama. Ha ha ha. I asked her, "Lawd, did I sound pathetic?"

    Listen. . .thanks. I sure appreciate the kind sentiments. I really do.

    Couple of things--Angella L., when I read your post a few days ago I said out loud, "I FEEL YOU!" Then I read something Ms. Moon said about just writing what your heart has to say. And so last night, that's exactly what I did. I wrote what my heart had to say.

    Reading these comments today told me one thing for sure--I just need to continue to do THAT. See where my heart takes me. Which is a funny thing to do as a "medical blog." Because most don't go where their hearts are taking them. They go where medical evidence and latest studies take them. Hot topics in the news, FDA updates, and clinical pathways. And that's not a dig to those blogs either--some of those blogs are my favorites to read and I wouldn't have them any other way.

    But this place is a different one. Medicine lives here and is welcomed. . . but so are feelings and pictures of grandparents and kids and LOL-moments and residency flashbacks. Teachable moments and F.P's and sweet cafeteria ladies. Not the norm for most "medical blogs."

    No, this was not a swan song or a shameless attempt at comments. It was just me going where my heart took me. I will strive more to not overthink it--but also not to underthink it either. . . .

    I told a medical student today on the wards. . .if you were to try to make logic out of everything you dream to do you'd never do anything. My example for him? This blog.

    'Preciate you.

  24. You rock! That is all.

    A Fellow Meharrian named Maria

  25. Read this at 6am lying in bed, reading off my phone and I've been thinking about it all day...

    You started up this blog for you. If other people enjoy reading that too, then my goodness, that's great. If someone decides that they don't want to 'follow' you anymore, then whatever, because its obvious that you write this blog for YOU.

    You're totally a friend in MY head too, btw. Even though we may not seem to have much in common on the surface, you're my absolute favourite blogger. Ever. I check your blog every day and I love it, because with each post, you teach me how to better myself. I hope that one day I can be half as amazing.

    Love and hugs from your New Zealand Lucy.

  26. So I just want to make sure you realize how much your blog impacts me. I follow a lot of blogs (mostly design) and this is the only one I come out of lurk status for to comment. The way you describe and relate your experiences and thoughts is incredible--and I'm a voracious reader. I even got my husband to read an entry at 11 pm (after bugging him the whole day) and he loved it! One of my mentors is a young, female judge who is one of the smartest and just all around one of the greatest people I have EVER met (she's also one of your sorors), and I always tell her, "You should know Dr. Manning. You guys are both next level, I'm telling you,"--and I don't even know you LOL. But I feel like I do because of this blog, and that's a testament to your writing skills.

  27. I ditto Ms. Moon and Angella -- I come here nearly every day and read your words and marvel at them and laugh at them and feel thankful for them. Keep on going -- this blog world is a mighty awesome one.

  28. I am a reader and a blogger (but mine is mostly, right now, a place to post pretty things I make out of paper because that is something that makes my heart happy.) I know you didn't write this post to elicit compliments, but you are a magnificent writer. Congratulations on two years. ~ Laura


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

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