Saturday, August 13, 2011

Top Ten: Grady, baby!

"I'm so three thousand and eight
You so two thousand and late."

~ The Black Eyed Peas "Boom Boom Pow."

Lately I've found myself saying at work on multiple occasions, "Damn, I love this place!"

This week, I bring you ten lovable takes from my life at Grady Hospital . . . because this place never fails to bring that boom boom pow.

Ten Takes from one week at the Gradys

#10 -- You must remember this. . . .

. . . a kiss is still a kiss. A sigh is just a sigh. . . the fundamentals all apply as time goes by. . . .

Alright. So I'm walking out of Grady the other day and I see a woman exiting with two plastic bags full of personal belongings. She'd just been discharged from the hospital more than likely and just as she made her way outside, a man--obviously coming for her--began walking quickly toward her.

"I was coming up there to get you, baby!"

"They let me out early, honey!"

So check it--these people were no less than sixty-something years old. Matter of fact, seeing as "black don't crack" they might have even been knocking on the eighties. Either way, it was obvious that they had some serious love for one another and were happy to see each other.

And so. Nosy me keeps watching.

Finally, he reaches her. First he just cups her face in his hands and I catch a glimpse of a warped band on his left ring finger. And her? She is smiling like a fourteen year old girl . . .I tell you the truth. Then he says, "Heeeeey, baby." All soft and throaty. Really in a tone just for her, but since I was being nosy, I heard it, too. And she responds by just smiling more. After that, he plants one on her. . . .pressing his lips against hers in that slow-ish, deliberate-ish way that older folks sometimes do.

It was so sweet.

But then something happened. That dry-lipped "welcome home, baby" kiss morphed into something else. Mr. Happy turned his head to the side and went in for the kill. Y'all! Mrs. Happy dropped her two bags and wrapped her ample arms around his shoulders. I could see her grandmother-ring with multiple birthstones on one hand and a weathered wedding band set on the other.

Aaaaah, yes. This was a husband and wife. . .and probably somebody's Maw-Maw and Paw-Paw.


And do you know what they did next? They made out. No, for real. They said "to hell with y'all" and went for it. Yes. They stood there making out--like for real open mouth kissing and all that--right there in the Grady vestibule. The kind of PDA that makes someone shout out to a couple of twenty-somethings to "get a room!"

But in this instance? It was endearing. And . . . hell. . kind of inspiring.

I hope Harry and I are still kissing like that when we get up in age.

#9 -- Baby, baby, baby

me and my baby boy

In the Grady elevator on Thursday:

"Hey Miss Manning!"

"Hey to you, too!"

"I ain't seen you in a minute. I see you got all that baby weight off you."

Don't know what to say to that.

"I think last time I seent you you had just had your baby or was pregnant. Around Christmas? When did you have the baby, like six, seven months back?"

Don't know what to say to that.

"Is the baby sleeping for you yet? What you have a girl or a boy this time?"

"Uuuuhh, a boy." Which technically is true.

"Okay, then! You almost there Miss Manning. You lookin' good."

Walks off of the elevator, all cheery and happy.

Still don't know what to say to that.

#8 -- That's what's up.

Talking to a patient on rounds the other day:

"Word life, you don't need a ring to be my wife. . " ~ Method Man

My patient was sitting with his common-law wife as we discussed details of his medical history and hospitalization. He was animated and so funny. She was totally chill. Look up "chill" in the dictionary, and she'd be there. Not chill-y. Just chill. I liked them immediately.

"So, do you ever smoke sir?"

"I ain't gon' lie, Doc. I do."

"How long does a pack last you?"

"Uuuuhhhh, two or three days, maybe?"

Eye roll from Lady Chill. I laughed out loud and asked, "More than that?"

A coy smile and an eyebrow raise.

"Alright, alright! I smoke like a pack every day."

"What about your medications? I know you ran out this time, but are you good about taking them otherwise?"

"Oh, yeaaaah. Definitely. I don't never be missin' my medicine. Never."

Cough into her hand. Another sly smile and this time one eyebrow up in his direction.

"Whaaaat, ba'y?" he chuckled while looking at her lovingly. "Ba'y, for real. I do be takin' my pills!"

She folded her arms and giggled in her chest with her lips closed. Not a word, but she was sure telling on him.

"Not such an angel about the medicines?" I query her. She turned over her palms and shrugged while cutting her eyes playfully in his direction.

"See, Doc, you know what they call that? They call that 'dry snitchin'.'" They both laughed in unison.

"Dry snitchin'?"

"Yeah, Doc. Tha's when you be tellin' on somebody with your eyes and yo' facial expressions. Givin' it away without openin' your mouth. Tha's the dry snitchin'. Ba'y, why you dry snitchin' on me?"

She smiled wide this time showing a glistening gold tooth. . . and looked so amused with him. It really was a loving interaction.

"She's dry snitchin' because she obviously cares a lot about you," I responded.

"Oh yeah, now I know tha's true, for real. This lady right here--" He gestured at her with his thumb. "She hold me down, you hear me? Man, like Mary J. and Method Man . . .for real. This chick? She hold me the f--k down. I mean, we ain't legally married, but we married, you feel me?" He looked over at her and softened his eyes. She returned the gesture and didn't seem to mind at all being referred to as "this chick." Which made me not mind either. And yes. I got the "Mary J. and Method Man" reference.

That's what's up.

And so I say exactly what I'm thinking. "That's what's up, right there."

Because no matter who you are, love is love.  So yeah, man. I do feel you.

"Back when I was nothin'
You made a brother feel like he was somethin'
That's why I'm with you 'til this day, boo, no frontin' "

~ Method Man featuring Mary J. Blige in "All I Need"

#7 -- How excellent.

Kevin is a medical student on my team this month. It's so obvious that he cares for people in the deepest parts of his soul and I know for certain that he is going to be an exceptional physician some day. Because he is early in his clinical training, the trajectory of his growth is straight to the sky. It's amazing how much I've seen him grow in just ten days.  


On Wednesday, I sat with him and gave him detailed feedback on his patient presentations. We had a great chat and he asked excellent questions. I could tell he was eager to apply the concrete suggestions I'd offered to him.

On Thursday, he did just that. He stood tall and confident and prepared. . .and then gave this kick ass oral presentation of an extraordinarily complicated patient warranting zero interruptions. He peppered in teaching points and it was great. Really great.

The best part was that I could see and feel how proud he was of himself.

I gave him a fist bump and told him exactly what I was thinking. "Excellent. Now that? That was excellent."

#6 -- It's the Real Thing.

As my patient was getting discharged last week:

"Is there anything else I can do for you before I go?"

"You know what? I would give anything for a Co-cola. Just a nice cold Co-Cola in the red can. Ha ha ha. . .naaw, but otherwise I'm okay."

I smiled when I heard that request. It made me think of Harry who says often that there is nothing comparable to a "good strong Coca Cola in the RED can." Not that Diet crap that everyone else is drinking.

I thought for a moment about his reasons for being in the hospital and asked myself what it would hurt for him to have a good ol' Coca Cola Classic before leaving. My answer? Nothing.

I excused myself, walked straight over to the vending machine and bought him one. In the red can.

#5 -- This is it.

I saw a patient the other day that had me perplexed. Nate, the fourth year medical student working with me, however, was not perplexed. It was his patient and he had put a great deal of thought into the diagnosis and management.

"I think this is what it is," he said. Then he explained why he felt that way.

"But what about that?" I countered. "The thing that makes me unsure about this is the amount of pain and the appearance. This doesn't always look like this in my experience. I'm wondering about that."

"From what I read, Dr. M, this can totally have this appearance. I mean, that is a consideration, but this is what we were thinking was the most likely explanation."

We talked some more about this and even involved some consultants. I examined the patient three or four times throughout the day to see how it would evolve. The specialists came to see the patient and using all of their expertise they came up with a final diagnosis.

Assessment: THIS (not THAT)

Umm, yeah.

#4 -- Oh, lightin' up.

Outside of Grady in the "Smoking area" man has a cig in between his fingers and is looking around. . . .

"Hey -- 'scuse me, Doc. You got a match?"


"A match? No, sir."

"You got a lighter?"

"A lighter. Uh. . .no."



#3 -- Drive bys.

We were rounding the other day and standing in the hallway outside of a patient room. There were about seven of us on this day and we were all standing in a huddle. As one of the interns is presenting his patient, all of a sudden this man rolls up in a manual wheel chair to the edge of our pack. It's obvious that he needs to pass by.

"'scuse me!"

We part like the Red Sea and let him through. Our focus goes back to hearing about the patient. Less than a minute later, I'm listening to the elements of the physical examination and another interruption comes mid-sentence. I look over and there is Dude once again, this time on the other side of us.

"'Scuse me!"

Our circle fragments again to let him through and then rejoins. On to the lab data. X-ray results, laboratory interpretations, and EKG tracings. My intern prepares to put it all together in the assessment and plan. Then--I am not kidding--Dude rolls up again.

"Beg pardon!"

Yes. He wants to go by. And we let him. Again. Finally, after hearing the assessment and plan, we all start making teaching points and discussing what else needs to be done.

But the thing is, I'm having trouble concentrating because I know that Dude is just bound to roll up on us again. After a few moments, he doesn't so I relax and regroup. Just as I start talking, I feel something against my leg.

Yes. It's Dude. Again. Like some kind of episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, for real.

"'Scuse me!"

And, y'all know me, I looked skyward and laughed as I stepped aside.

Later on, I heard him say to a nurse who asked where he was going, "Man, I just be rollin'. That's just me!"

Hearing that made me smile for some reason. Because sometimes? All I want to do is roll, too.

#2 -- I got that Boom Boom Pow.

"Tell her it's okay to eat the breast of the chicken. That's the white meat and it's healthy. Tell her, Miss Manning!"

"White meat is leaner. Especially if it's skinless."

"Boom! Told you! Told you I could eat the breast and the wing!"

"Wings are actually a little higher in fat. But you are right, the breast is a good selection."

"Boom! Told you!" This male patient pointed triumphantly at his wife, who clearly had questioned his food choices. She folded her arms hard and curled her lips.

"Uuuuhhh, doctor?" she started in this very sassy and animated tone. "Tell me this--what if that breast of chicken is as big as his head and is fried at Popeye's? Is that a 'good selection?'"

I look at him with a one eyed wince. "Uuuhh, yeah. Not so much."

She held up her tattooed arms and pointed her fingers like two guns blazing. "BOOM! Told you Mr. Popeye's Fried-Chicken-even-though-you-got-heart-problems! Don't try to PLAY me!" Their laughter rang out into the hallway.

He looked at me sheepishly. "No?" A playful smile creeped up the side of his mouth.

I could still hear her playfully chastising him as I left the room . . . . .

For some reason, I couldn't stop playing "Boom Boom Pow" by the Black Eyed Peas on my mental iPod for the rest of the afternoon.

#1 -- Grady, baby!

***OMG. Best moment of the week!***

"Wow. You sure have a lot of ink. How many tattoos do you have?"

"Damn, doc. I 'on't even know. I got so many! They all tell they own story, though."

"Which one is your favorite? Or is it hard to choose?"

"Naw, it ain't hard to choose, Doc. This one right here is my favorite of all."

(shared on this blog with patient's consent)


"Grady baby." I said the words displayed proudly on his arm. Awesome.

"Yeah, man. Grady baby. . . for life."

Yeah, man. Me, too.

Happy Weekend.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . Mary J. and Method Man singing about "holding someone down."


  1. that photo of your baby sleeping happily against his mama was my number one. such rich stories, such rich lives.


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

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