Monday, March 19, 2012

Go your own way.

You can go your own way
Go your own way
You can call it
Another lonely day
You can go your own way
Go your own way

~ Fleetwood Mac 


Decisions. So much in life is just decisions. Even the things that happen without your permission--at some point--depending upon how you choose to deal with it, have outcomes that come down to our decisions. From the big things to the small things and all the stuff in between. Right now, I'm reflecting on it all.

Something crappy happens. So you make some decisions.

Do I curl up in a corner and wither away feeling sorry for myself?
Do I fill my body with so much anger and rage that it comes exploding from my mouth in the form of colorful expletives?
Do I get all surly and sarcastic, saying things like "Life's a bitch and then you die?"


Guess it all depends upon what you decide.

Yeah, so I'm not thinking of anything particularly deep at the moment. I guess I'm just reflecting on the last few days and just thinking. Thinking about decisions and free will which, I guess, is kind of deep if you think about it.

Or if you decide to think about it. Ha.


I saw this dude in the clinic today who used heroin for "more years than you even wonna know." He'd dabbled in crack cocaine, smoked a little reefer here and there, but none of them made him feel as good as the "herr-aahhn" did. But the thing about it is. . . he'd quit using it. The heroin--he'd quit altogether. Yes. That and everything else except for cigarettes. And that's how we even got on the subject because I was talking to him about quitting smoking and he said:

"I'm still thinking about it."

And for me, that was cool because that meant he hadn't decided to quit yet. Or rather he had decided that he still wanted to keep smoking. But in that same breath he told me about how when he was ready, he would quit just like he quit herrr-aaahhn and all that other stuff he did on the side.

"How did you quit the heroin?" I asked.

"I just decided I was done with it," he replied.

Which made sense to me. So next, I decided to ask him one more question to see if I could get him closer to deciding to quit the cigarettes, too. Especially since he had some horrible medical conditions that were being made horrifically worse by his tobacco use.

"Sir, how are things with your nature?"

My resident with me looked puzzled and that patient sounded puzzled when he said, "My who?"

But see, the patient was just surprised, not confused like that resident doctor.

"Your nature. Do you have troubles getting erections?"

And he narrowed his eyes at me for a bit and then decided to be honest. "My nature ain't been right for a minute now."

So I just shrugged and said, "Okay. Well smoking can hurt the blood vessels that help you get a hard-on."

And my resident's face flushed at that term which, yes, I had decided in that instant to use because it was graphic and I was going for graphic. And because I'd decided that in this situation, too many other words would have just been a waste of airspace.

That man told me that hearing that made him think and that just maybe, he'd decide on a quit date real soon. And I told him that I was cool with that, too, because I was.

Because it was his decision.

Another lady was overlooked in the waiting area today. We didn't get to her appointment until two hours after she'd arrived which was NOT cool. So as soon as I entered her room, I was profusely apologizing. She looked at me just as peaceful as ever and said, "It's alright. Not alright where my time ain't precious, but alright where we can move on. I accept your apology and appreciate it."

And next she pulled her pill bag out of her pocketbook and prepared to keep it moving.

"You are so peaceful," I decided to tell her.

And she replied, "Being pissed off and angry is a decision."

I told her, "Yeah, like I heard somebody say, 'Being angry is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.'"

She laughed out loud. "You got that right!"

And that was that. So we decided to get to why she was there instead of fume or fret or whatever we could have done for the rest of that visit.

Yeah. So that was that.

Then, toward the end of my crazy busy day in clinic today I got this text from Harry that said:

"Don't forget I am going to the Hawks game tonight."

And the truth? I can't be sure if I forgot or if I didn't really know ever. So I furrowed my brow to contain the ripple of irritation that rolled over me before preparing my thumbs to text back.

"Uuhhh, hello? When did we talk about you going to the Hawks game?"

But just as I started to push send, I paused. I wondered the point of my response.

Was it to make him feel bad?
Was it because I didn't want him to go?
Was it because I felt annoyed at some kind of social thingamabobby planned on a Monday?
Was it to punish him for not re-reminding me before two hours before the game?

That's when I deleted that text and decided on a different approach. I answered those questions for myself.

Did I want to make him feel bad? Uhh, not really.
Did I not want him to go? Honestly, it wasn't really a big deal on this night.
What about the social thing on a Monday? Eh, not really so bothersome now that I thought of it.
Was I trying to punish him? Sheesh. I hope not.

I realized that if I sent that text, it would just mean that I was deciding to be an asshole. Plain and simple.

See, the day before, Harry had spent the entire day with our boys. Soccer practice and soccer games and then he even grilled for them. The day before that, he had Isaiah's best buddy over for a play date and later had a "boys' night" with just him and the kids which involved dinner at Chili's and ice cream from Breuster's. All while I was off doing the things I wanted to do like go to a MOMO-CON-slash-Delta Ball, have a fun reunion dinner with my college sorority sisters, and even get a pedicure.

So the thing I realized by pausing is that in the grand scheme of things, I am not married to a selfish person who disregards my time. My next decision was this text:

"Great. Drive safe and have a great time."

To which he replied:

"I love you so much."

Which I have decided is much better than what would have surely become a passive-aggressive exchange without any point.

All because of a decision.

So yeah. I guess I'm just rambling because the simplicity of this concept astounds me. So much rides on free will and decisions.

Which also reminds me:

I heard Harry lecturing the kids on Saturday about making good decisions. He was saying it in that stern-daddy way but now that I think of it, it was a good word.

"You are responsible for your decisions. You've got to make good decisions, sons."

And yeah, he was really talking about their decision to get soaking wet and muddy in the backyard when they'd been specifically told to not go near the creek out back. But still. He was schooling them on the same things that made that patient put down that herrr-aaahhn or that lady who'd waited for two hours not tear me a brand new you-know-what.

And you know what else?

I have some friends whose hearts have been broken by disappointing decisions made by their significant others. Feeling broken and angry over all of it but deciding over and over to try hard to be strong. Making a decision not to live in crippling bitterness even though they'd be well within their right. A decision to not drink that poison because it's clear who dies when that happens.


I guess it's all kind of like Fleetwood Mac said in that song. At the end of the day, no matter what is being dished to you or done for you, you can go your own way. And damn it, when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks sing it, I really believe it.

Whoa. Now that was some real rambling. But I decided I needed that tonight. Hope you don't mind me unpacking--but then you may have decided to stop reading three paragraphs ago.

The take home?  If there is any, I guess it's this:

How we live is based upon decisions.
How we love is, too.

Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .The song Lindsey Buckingham wrote as a message to Stevie Nicks. Interestingly, they decided to still make this record, even though their love had unraveled. Just look at Stevie's and Lindsey's faces on this video.  It's a trip. . . .decisions, decisions!


  1. This was a perfect post to end my day. Thanks for your wisdom.

  2. Anon -- Hey, thanks for that--and for reading. I appreciate those words of affirmation. That was a perfect comment to end my day!

  3. I love the anger quote! YOU are such an inspiration. I am half way through my IM core and sometimes the patients make decisions that I just don't get and I wonder if I am being empathetic enough.... But I know I can always come here and find a relevant post to put things in perspective. Thank you for that.

  4. Dr M, after a really bitter break up and hearing advice from an assortment of 600 odd strangers and friends about letting go, it all finally makes sense. Thank you for putting it down so simply. Today was one of those days where a lot of decisions really tore me apart and your writing helped me to find the peace within.
    PS: Now playing on my "mental iPod" is 'All you need is love' by the Beatles :). Have a good week!

  5. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you so much.

  6. Amen to that. We always have a choice to bring love or not. Thank you for taking the time to write for us.

  7. Dag, Doc! This was something I really needed to hear today. Honestly, it's something that I need to hear everyday. Every. Day.

    I've been thinking a lot about self discipline lately, and it seems that it comes down to decisions.

    -Deciding if I'm going to sit on my arse for another hour, or am I going to put up that laundry. Actually rewash the laundry b/c the cat slept on it, so now it's dirty again.

    -Deciding to be pissed off or not about a misunderstanding.

    Your decision to respond to your husband the way you did was great. The fact that you had the forethought to ask yourself those questions before you fired off a response was even greater.

    Self-discipline & decisions go hand in hand. One directs the other.

    Thank you, again, for a post that hits home. Damn. You do this blog AND help take care of sick people, as well as all the other things on your plate? As Royal Marshall used to say, "Just damn."

  8. EXACTLY what I needed to be reminded of today!

  9. If I ever ever need a doctor I am coming to see you!..

  10. Somehow your "ramblin" is a little piece of heaven. Keep it up. I needed this inspiration for my current state of mind.

    I had never heard the anger quote but how true. God bless you and your sweet family.

  11. Somehow your "ramblin" is a little piece of heaven. Keep it up. I needed this inspiration for my current state of mind.

    I had never heard the anger quote but how true. God bless you and your sweet family.

  12. And this too was a good, good word! :)


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

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