Thursday, July 31, 2014

Our Emory Medical Student Teaching Competition is TONIGHT!


I am so excited that I'm about to lose my mind. For reals.  Here is our our "elite eight" student presenters and their faculty "teaching coaches" for the event--makes up our "sweet sixteen" --well, technically sweet seventeen--one of our coaches had to leave town and, in true Emory form, another great teacher took the baton and ran it in for the final coaching sessions. How cool is that?

 Clockwise from the noon position:
  • #teamabhi: Dr. Ryan F. and Abhi K.
  • #teammike: Dr. Girish K. and Mike E.
  • #teamyaanik: Dr. Danielle J. and Yaanik D.
  • #teamchristian: Dr. Julie J-M. and Christian M.
  • #tagteamariella: Dr. Wendy A., Dr. Lisa B. and Ariella D.
  • #teamvinnie: Dr. Francois R. and Vinnie L.
  • #teambyron: Dr. Bhavin A. and Byron C.
  • #teamkelly: Dr. Kimberly M. and Kelly A.

This? Now this is a clinician educator/medicine nerd's dream.


Just fainted from nerd-tacular excitement.


More on this soon, okay? (As soon as I stop hyperventilating. . . . )

Happy Thursday and MSTC Day!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The other day at Grady.

"Then I look at you. 
And the world's alright with me.
Just one look at you. And I know it's gonna be. . . 

. . . .a lovely day."

~ Bill Withers

I was making good time the other morning. I wish I could say that this is always the case, but it isn't. On this day, though, I was turning into the garage exactly ten minutes before I was expected to be in the clinic. A miracle, I tell you.

The day was pristine--the sun shining bright like a diamond and the temperature not oppressively hot either. The minute I saw that blue-blue sky I knew that it was going to be a good day. I just knew it.

On the way to work, the radio personalities were all talking about a whole bunch of nothing and NPR was feeling a little bit overwhelming. The latter half of my commute that day was in silence as a result. And that part was cool.

So, boom, I swing into the employee parking garage and I see the same person I always see: Mr. Lewis, the security officer in the parking deck. His big, booming, jovial greeting was as bright as that sun. "Heeeeeey there, doctor! How you doing?"  he announced. And, like usual, I returned his welcome with the same thing I always say, "If I was any better, it'd take two of me!"

I realized in that moment that seeing him is one of my favorite things about Grady. And any person who pulls into Grady in the morning knows exactly who I'm speaking about.

Anyways. I had great parking lot karma that day and snagged a ground level space. Another miracle, I tell you. And a welcomed one at that.

I walk across the street and into Grady. I see the regular sights along the way. The people smoking in the smoking area. For amusement, I always look to see if anyone is puffing in the nonsmoking area, too. And, as usual, someone always is. I sort of enjoy that for its Seinfeldesque irony and always feel a little tickled inside when I see that.

One of the environmental services workers gave me a high five as I walked by him in the hallway. And that made me extremely proud for some reason. I think it's because he initiated it -- not me -- and did so because he had to know I'd oblige him. It made me happy that he saw me that way and it felt far more endearing than disrespectful.


I strode into the main atrium and waved at the man selling newspapers across the way. "Hey there, Miss Manning!" he shouted. And I shouted right back to him even though his name escaped me. "Hey there, sir!"  Ms. Renee in the gift shop was taking in some inventory at the door and winked in between signing off on boxes. I'm a terrible winker but I winked back. I sure did.

Another Grady employee passed me as I entered the stairwell and called me "Miss Lady." And that made me smile because when I first met Harry he used to always call me that on our earliest phone calls.

"Hey, Miss Lady."

And you know? Even when Harry said it, it wasn't fresh. It was just friendly and chivalrous-sounding to me. That morning I took it the same way.

"What you know good, sir?" I asked.

"Awww, Miss Lady, I don't know nothin'."

And that was enough to take me up the stairs because anyone who knows about certain pockets of down South lingo knows that "what you know good?" is a perfectly acceptable way to ask "how are you?" And, of course, "I don't know nothin'" or "I ain't no count" are also absolutely reasonable replies to that question.

Mmmm hmmm.

Once I entered the clinic, I saw Lex, one of our patient access reps. He always, always seems happy to see me which makes me equally happy to see him. He also wears a collection of very cool glasses which, for some reason, he didn't have on this day. "No specs today, Lex?" And he just chuckled and told me that sometimes you have to change things up on people to keep 'em guessing.

But I still think of him as Lex with the cool specs. Which rhymes now that I think about it. Ha.

The clinic wasn't too busy yet when I got there so I checked my email. One of my emails was from Joe, the Grady transporter. Remember him? The guy who wanted to know the inner workings of a hospital like Grady so decided to work NOT as a tech or even someone shadowing physicians. Nope. He took a job as one of the people pushing patients from place to place at Grady Hospital. And when he told me that, it blew my mind. Even more amazing though, is that he did that for over two years while in grad school.

Sure did.

Well. Joe is officially applying to medical school this year and wanted me to read his application essay. That's why he "cold call" emailed me, opening up with "You probably don't even remember me but. . ." Ha. He must have forgotten who he was talking to. So yeah. He emailed me some two plus years later. And can I just say that this also made me feel happy inside, too? Kind of like that high five did. One, I was happy to hear that he was actually applying. But two, I was so glad he also felt like he could reach out to me once he did.

I am rooting for Joe. I am. I've since spoken to him on the phone for over thirty minutes, hashing out his beast mode med school strategy. "Tell them you took a job as a patient transporter at Grady for two years. Tell them what you learned because I know it changed your life."

"It did," he said. "It has." And we talked about other things, too, but Grady was the main topic.


Look man. I just want my light to shine. So little things like a high five from a dude pushing a giant floor waxer and a young guy I met for five minutes reaching out to me made me feel like, just maybe, I sometimes get it right.

Okay. So the truth is that I could do this for another thousand words about every little tiny thing that happened around me. I could. Suffice it to say, I loved my day in clinic that day. I noticed as much as I could. The encounters were rich and the conversations were ordinary but pivotal. We took really good care of people and I could feel it in my bones that we were. I could.

But I have to share this last thing, okay?

On my way to see one of my last patients, I saw a familiar face.

"Dr. Manning? Hey!"

"Hey!" I responded. I stopped and turned my head sideways. I knew I'd cared for this patient before but I couldn't place when or where.

"You don't remember me?"

As soon as she said that, I did. This was a young woman who I'd cared for more than a year before. She was supposed to have a few months to live after failing treatment after treatment for a very advanced blood-borne cancer. And you know what? There she was. Standing right there in front of me on her way out of a clinic appointment.

And here is the truth: When I discharged her from the hospital back then, I was sure I'd never see her again. And that made me so sad. It truly did. I remember crying many a day in my office or on my drive home about her. So seeing her . . . alive. . .it just. . .wow. I said, "Of course I remember you. Of course I do!"

I walked down the hall straight to her and, as if scripted, we embraced tight. A long, telling hug. I pulled back, put my hands on her shoulders and studied her, then pulled back in and hugged her once more.

"I'm doing really good," she said. And I didn't even care about that being grammatically incorrect because "really good" sounded even better than "well." It did.

"You look wonderful. And healthy. I'm so happy you stopped me. I'm so happy to see you." I said that because I meant it. She looked very different now. Much thinner and hair now grown out from her chemo-induced alopecia that I'd come to know during her hospitalizations. I would have never recognized her.

"It's good to see you, too," she said. "How are your sons?"

And I immediately wanted to cry when she said that. How could she remember anything about me when she'd been so ill? Just. . . .how?  "They are good," I replied. "Very good. Is your sister doing better?"

I wanted her to know I that I remembered her story, too. Her sister was very, very close in age to her and so worried about my patient that she'd left college to be by her side. This decision was a big deal to my patient who wanted her sister to stay where she was. My patient believed that she was dying and saw no point in robbing her sister of a future since the chance of meaningful recovery was so slim. She'd urged her sister to go back to her university but her sister vehemently refused.

A true Ruth indeed.

Just like Ruth and her beloved Naomi of biblical fame, both were now thriving. "She's back in school. Going to graduate this year actually."

"That's great. Just great." I hugged her one more time before leaving. If I stayed two more seconds, I'd have broke down crying.

Especially because I know how awful it feels to lose a sister and I was so, so happy this wouldn't be something her sister would have to live or know in the near future. I said a little prayer in my head as I walked away and stuck them on a post it note in my head for prayers later.

The rest of that day was great, too. Quiet moments of wonderful bookmarked by teeny-tiny whispers of grace. All of it so very ordinary. Yet so very extraordinary. Which, like always, is very, very Grady.


I love this job. And damn, I'm just glad to be here.

Happy Sunday. And think positive thoughts about Joe and his journey as well as my young patient in remission, okay? Thanks.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . . if you read this post, imagine this playing in the background the entire time. Because it was.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Draper, Party of Six.

Today is my baby sister's birthday. Which also happens to be the same day our maternal grandmother was born. In our family, July 26 is a very, very special day.

It is.

We all grew up close and happy. But JoLai and I? We were close in the literal sense.

Yes, indeed.

Ten months apart to be exact. Yes. You read that correctly. Ten. Months. Apart.

Here's the back story on that:

A young couple with three children decided they were done having kids. To make sure that this would be the case, the dad of those three kids had a vasectomy. And that was fine. It would be Draper, party of five, just like the name of that old television series.


Well. As it turns out, man plans and God laughs. "Bwah ha ha," He said on high. That fine print that tells you to wait a few rounds before aiming at the target? Well, let's just say that's more than just a notion.


My mother wasn't even twenty four years old. A little drowsy. Breast tenderness. And, if she didn't know better, she'd think we was pregnant. Oh, because she was.

Mmm hmmmm.

Let me just tell you--when you are twenty three and you already have three little BITTY kids at home AND you're not even all the way out of the postpartum-y feelings of your last little BITTY child and THEN on top of that you scrape your pennies together for a VAS-ectomy and THEN someone tells you you're pregnant?

Chile please. My mama was despondent. For reals.

They weren't ready for another baby. And besides, they'd just had a baby. Oh, and they'd just bought their first house. This was too much. It wouldn't work.

No, it would not.

So they talked and thought and made the choice that they felt was best. Though difficult, the plan would be to keep things at a party of five.  And so they went forward with that plan.

But in the eleventh hour, Mom had a change of heart.

The result was JoLai.

Now. Would this choice have been the best one for every single family in every single place under every single circumstance? Well. That question is rhetorical. How could I possibly speak for every single family (or woman) in every single place under every single circumstance? I can't. So I won't. And even with this--my family's story--I don't.

And so.

Their choice became my baby sister JoLai. Ten months apart. Which means we're both the same number of years annually from July to September. Side by side in the same classes (since she was so stinking gifted) and forehead to forehead in height as kids. Asked if we were twins more often than not and finishing each other's sentences as if we were.

It was a wonderful childhood with JoLai. And you know? I'm proud to be 43 with her today. And I'm ever so thankful that we became and shall always be:

Draper, Party of six.


Happy Birthday, JoLai.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

High class.

The look of a child who feels special. Book parade in first grade, 2014

Back seat of the car yesterday on the way home

Zachary: Mom? Who's going to be my next teacher?

Me: Good question, bud. Not sure yet. But we'll know very soon.

Zachary:  I've had some good teachers so far.

Me:  You have.

Zachary: My pre-K teacher? She did a very good job.

Me:  You had two. Which one are you speaking of?

Zachary:  The one that's the main teacher now. She was really good.

Me:  I liked her. She was so positive, right?

Zachary:  I know! Then my kindergarten teacher was super-duper nice.

Me:  Definitely. And super organized, too.

Zachary:  And we had a party at her house on the last day of school, remember?

Me:  Sure do.

Zachary:  But my best teacher of all in my whole-whole life was last year in first grade.

Me:  Is that right?

Zachary:  For sure. She was just . . I don't know, Mom.

Me:  I really like her, too.

Zachary:  Mom? There's just something special about her, that's all.

Isaiah:  It feels magical in her class. She was my favorite, too. Always, always has been. I think she always will be my favorite, too.

Me:  Magical?

Isaiah:  Yes. Like . . .somehow every single kid in her class is the most special one of all.

Zachary: But to her every kid is the most special one of all.

Isaiah: I don't know how she does it, but she does it, Mom.

Me:  Wow. That does sound magical.

Zachary and Isaiah:  Yeah.

Magical indeed. May we all go forth and do the magical thing she does. Or even just a little bit of it.

I know she is reading this because that teacher reads here. And I hope as she prepares for her new year with new children that this unsolicited endorsement of her work from the mouths of the babes she taught encourages her to sprinkle her magical fairy dust for years to come.


Happy Thursday. And happy back to school prep.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Get your TEACH on.

Y'all! I'm so excited about next week! It's a medicine nerd's version of going to Six Flags!

What is it I'm so pumped up about, you ask?

The Medical Student Teaching Competition! As I mentioned recently, I've had the great fortune of being involved in the planning of this event-- our first ever MEDICAL STUDENT teaching competition--and it's coming up in just about a week. 

How exciting is THAT?

(see the medicine nerd dance above)

Okay, so here's a few deets. . . . .which requires some background. . . .

At our medical school, our students all get sorted into "societies." (Kind of like they do on Harry Potter except none are evil like Slytherin.) Anyways. This isn't really unique to Emory, actually. There are a good number of medical schools that do this. . .but guess what? None of them get to slug it out to the finish in a teaching competition. 

No ma'am, no sir!

Okay, so check it out--very similar to our Fellows Teaching Competition, the participants are all given only 8 minutes to bring their best lecture. And I know that 8 minutes sounds like just a few moments, but a LOT can go down in 8 minutes, man. A lot. Ever been to hear someone speak and they were so good that it didn't matter what they were saying? Well, that has a lot to do with delivery, AV materials and fluidity. The focus of the teaching competition is all of THAT stuff. And though the content is important, it doesn't matter how great the content is if how it is shared is . . .uhhh. . .soporific. 

Um yeah.

Let me tell you. These students have been unreal. I am SO fortunate to be advising them on this project because I get to just show up and look good. Ha! Seriously, though, they're so innovative and organized. For example, they had the interested students go through a prelim round before selecting finalists. They narrowed the "elite eight" down to two contenders from each society. One student built a really cool website and another even made a video which is seriously out of this world. Seriously.

Oh and my favorite part? The contenders were each assigned a faculty mentor to "coach" them on their final presentation. I have the great fortune of being both the advisor for the event planning committee and one of the coaching mentors.

Wooo hooooo!

I am faced with one problem, though. Since I am a Small Group Society Advisor in the medical school, I technically "belong" to one of the houses. Wait. Let me explain. Our four society houses are named after throwback trailblazer dudes in medicine:

Osler Society - For THE Sir William Osler. He was pretty much the dude who laid out how we "do" medical education nowadays. Word on the history books is that he was pretty hard core with his rounds and his reading. Rounds could last for an entire shift. (That was before there were duty hours rules.)

Harvey Society -  Named for another William--this one William Harvey. He was the guy who convinced people about how the blood circulates. Some say he's the dude who gets credit as being the father of modern physiology. As someone who had to get a strong talking to by her physiology professor after bombing a major physio exam as an M1 (from being in love with a boy instead of the library) I have a feeling that Dr. Harvey would have been annoyed with me. No matter how well my blood was circulating.

Lister Society - Named for Sir Joseph Lister, the surgeon who finally helped people get it into their thick skulls that antiseptic surgery is better than yucky grimy surgery. Thanks to ol' Lister, the OR became a place that people survive. Hey! Ever wonder where the song "Sorry to be mean, but you need some Listerine! Not a sip not a swallow but the whooooooole bottle!" came from? LISTER. As in Sir Joseph. Hey! From now on, call your mouthwash Sir Listerine, okay?

Okay. And last but not least, the society to which my small group advisees belong. . . . .

Semmelweis Society - Named for Ignaz Semmelweis, this Hungarian physician that went crazy since nobody believed anything he was saying. And what WAS he saying? Well. He was saying that if y'all would just wash yo' dang hands between delivering babies, these women wouldn't keep dying from infections. Oh. Because did I fail to tell you? Yeah. Nobody used to wash their grubby hands between touching bloody, oozy things like birth canals, afterbirth and meconium. It was Iggy who told them that the reason the MIDWIVES' deliveries did so well was because they weren't hopping from delivery to delivery like the doctors. 

That or they were just the ones washing their hands, which is a possibility. I'm just saying.

So Ignaz just wanted folks to wash their hands. And it turns out he was correctomundo. Problem is. . nobody gave him props for it until he was six feet under. So. That hand sanitizer in your purse? You have Dr. Semmelweis to thank for that. 

Wait. What was my point of telling you all that? 

Oh. My problem. Yes! See, as an advisor, I belong to Semmelweis. But the (seriously awesome) student that I'm coaching to WIN is from Harvey. The competitive fighter in me wants my mentee to kick ass and take names. But the loyal team member in me wants to rah-rah-sis-boom-bah with my fellow 'Weis Guys. Ugggh.

With Kelly at our last meeting of the minds. . bwah haa haaaa!

I know. Totally an ultra-first world problem for sure. Then again, it probably isn't a problem at all.  I think it's kind of like having an extra lottery ticket. My chances of me winning just improved. And! Since I'm the faculty advisor to the planning committee, as long as it all goes well I am fully authorized to fist pump no matter what the outcome. 



Oh! I almost forgot. The new medical students started on Monday. That means the class of 2018 has hit the building, people. Small Group Delta officially gets to call themselves "M2" students (second year meds) and that makes me a. . .wait a minute. . errr. . .carry the two. . .and. . .yes! I'm an M22! Yeah, baby!! M-DEUCE-DEUCE, people!! 

Sigh. I am far too silly to be a role model. That's for sure. 


Shout out to the two brand-spanking-new M1 students who approached me yesterday to report that they READ MY BLOG and started reading BEFORE even coming to EMORY.

Pardon me while I. . . . . .

You are both officially my two new M1 BFFs. And since you are, I expect to see you at the Med Student Teaching Competition and additionally expect you to spread the word to any and every brand-spanking-new M1 you meet. 


Okay. That's all I got. That and this last gif. Why? I mean, why not?

Kimberly Manning, M22 (pronounced M-DEUCE-DEUCE!)

Happy Wednesday. And Emory people-students and faculty--BE THERE next Thursday evening to support our students and to celebrate teaching! Come rep your society!

You MUST SEE this awesome video that Chris S. (one of our students on the MSTC committee) put together. Soooo cool! (Added bonus: It provides an AMAZING tour of our spectacularly swanky medical education building for you med school applicants.) It's going to be AWESOME!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Permission to speak freely.

  • Assessment: Poorly Controlled Diabetes

  • Plan: Initiate Insulin Therapy


Grady Primary Care Center, Summer 2014

"I think I can manage this with diet and exercise."

"I believe that being careful about your diet and getting more exercise will help. But my recommendation is that we start you on insulin. I  know you don't like needles, but--"

"I'm definitely not taking insulin. That's out of the question."

"I see. Remember that blood test we checked? The A1C test?"

"The one that says how your sugars have been for a whole month?"

"Sort of. More like three months. But yes, that."

"I remember."

"Well. Yours was very high. In the double digits."

"Where should it be?"

"I'd be ecstatic if it was between 6 and 7%. It was 12.5%. That calls for insulin."

"I hate needles. You'll have to try something else."

"You've tried pills already. They aren't working. You need insulin."

"Is there an insulin that isn't given through needles?"

"Not that I have to offer."

"Oh well."

"I'm sorry. I wasn't sure what you meant by 'oh well.'"

"I meant, 'Oh well, guess we in a jam, ain't we?'"

"Aaaah. I see. I guess we are then."

"Insulin ain't gonna happen."

"I hear you. And I've already talked to you at length about the things that can happen if you ignore your high blood sugar, right?"

"You have. And I'm not 'ignoring' it."

"Well, I meant not doing whatever it takes to control it. Sorry about that."

"I'll do anything. Just no insulin."

*pause for a moment*

"Okay. Well listen--I'm pretty disappointed that I can't convince you to go with my recommendations. I have the pharmacists here and everything to teach you about using insulin. But I guess you've made up your mind."

"So what pills are you going to add?"




"What the hell?"

"You need insulin. And that is my recommendation. You're already on three different pills for diabetes. They aren't enough. At this point, you need insulin."

"Well, I am letting you know that I need an alternative."

"I don't have one."

"So that's just it? Insulin or nothing? That's crazy."

"I'm sorry you feel that way."

"Why can't you just up my pills some more?"

"Because that isn't right. And it won't be enough."


"Ma'am? Can I ask you a question?"

"You just did."

"Okay. Well a statement."


"Okay, so check it--if your blood pressure was sky high and I needed you to take pills for that. . . . but instead you said, 'No, Dr. Manning! I think I just want to take apple cider vinegar and mustard for my blood pressure!' You know what?  I wouldn't go along with that as a viable option, either."

"Vinegar and mustard?"

"Some people use that for high blood pressure as a home remedy."

"Does that even work?"

"Uhhhh, that would be a no."

"I feel like you're forcing insulin on me."

"I'm sorry you see it that way. I just care."

"You care about making money."

"Making money? Um. No. Definitely not the case. You just need insulin."

"I have a question. If I was your own sister what would you do? Your own sister with high blood sugar who really, really, really didn't want to take insulin."

"My sister? Oh, that's easy."


"I'd pin you to the ground with my knee in your chest and hold you there until you got your insulin. I'd sit right on top of your and draw it up and stick you in the back of the arm. Sure would. And I'd do it every single day until your A1C was under 7."


"Are you serious? That's what you'd do to your sister?"

"Dead serious."

"You'd put your knee in her chest?"

"You'd better believe it. Or I'd just put her in a headlock."


"Damn. I'm just not ready for insulin."

"I hear you, sis. But listen--insulin is ready for you."

"I hear you, doctor."

"Do you? Like really hear me?"

"Yes. And I can feel your knee on my chest."

"You can?"

"I can."


*both smiling*

Happy Tuesday. And yes, she took insulin.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Celebrate we will.

"Celebrate we will
Because life is short but sweet for certain
We're climbing two by two
To be sure these days continue
These things we cannot change."

~ Dave Matthews Band's "Two Step"

I live life with more gusto now. More intention, more vigor. Matter of fact, I'm climbing two by two.

That is, I want to take it all in. Not two by two like I want to rush it along or anything. But just in big sweeping steps to get more of it.

Hmmm. Does this even make sense? Probably not. Oh well. Feeling rambly.

(That's a warning.)

Today I ran 13.1 miles with an old and dear friend. But before that we spent the weekend laughing out loud and talking about everything and nothing. We ate healthy-healthy and terrible-ish, too. We walked down the streets of Chicago going somewhere and nowhere. And the whole time, I savored it all. Every sight, every sound.

This would be my third half marathon. My third--whoa. I met up with my college sorority linesister/pledge sister Glencia who lives in Chicago. Being around her felt easy and natural which was good. Very good. But, still, I didn't take it for granted. I squinted my eyes and took it all in.

Isn't it good to have easy friendships? Non-heavy and non-pressured? That's what I think. 

We hit the expo which is where and when you get your race number and packet. Glencia inspected the route to let us know what we were in for. All I knew was that we were in for 13.1 miles of running. It was hard to ignore that fact, even if part of it was along a lake front. Ha.

One of Harry's best friends, Derrick, was kind enough to chauffeur us to and from the expo, too. He's the only person I know that's even more easygoing than Glencia. So hanging out with both of them at the same time was awesome. Plus I loved telling Harry that Derrick was looking out for us.

That reminds me--I love that my husband has very good and very old friends. That says something about him if you ask me. They all seem to have this code where they look out for each other and take care of each others' "people."  Derrick took care of us.

Plus he's not hard on the eyes and is ,as Harry says, "a smooth brother."  Even if he's like a real brother to me, I can say that, right?

So yes. The expo was cool and Derrick was great. He dropped us off and we had some lunch at a swanky spot in the thick of it all. So Chicago, man. The city had a pulse and it was thumping. I loved it.

Then we took the L. Just because I wouldn't feel like I was in Chicago unless we did. So we did.

We got up early this morning. Started it off with simultaneous yawning and laughter just like we did when we were Delta pledges hiding from our big sisters. Ha. And that part was wonderful.

I had even laid all my stuff out the night before like a good runner. Yup. This is either "good runner" practice or "corny runner" practice. But whichever, that's what I did.

Once we got there, I let myself notice things. And notice people. I can't say that's so unusual for me, but I feel like I do it more now. I take it all in two by two, you know? No, you don't? Oh well. Anyways. I made friends in the crowd and asked people where they were from. I heard their stories and smiled with them. And since I love people, that part was good, too.

Three best friends from Minnesota, New Jersey, and Illinois met up for the race.
This woman, Peg (in purple) ran with her husband and their two daughters. Peg beat them all.
A little pre-race shenanigans never hurts

The race was tough. Surprisingly so considering how flat the Chicago course was. I'd heard that having no hills hurts more since you don't have to switch up muscle groups. And man was I sore. Well. It could have been that or just the fact that my training wasn't fully up to snuff. My guess is that it was a little of both.

And. My GPS devices were all going cattywompus. ("Cattywompus" is such a JoLai word. Ha.) I had no idea what my pace was or what mile I was on. Like two seconds into the race, my Map My Run app said, "DISTANCE: 1 MILE. PACE 5 MINUTES PER MILE."  For two seconds I was excited. I thought I'd turned into that dude Meb who won the Boston Marathon.

Or not. Ha.

I still had fun, though. And despite being GPS-sabotaged, I finished in quite a respectable time, if I do say so myself. Not far at all from my personal record--or "P.R." as us runner-people call it. Nope.

*brushes off shoulders*

So yeah. That was fun. In fact, all of it was fun, actually. Wait, can you say that? "In fact" and then "actually?" Oh well. You get the picture.

Glencia's coworker braved the crowds and met us down at the finish. He had cupcakes, too. But even sweeter was his big smile and the fact that he'd gotten up so early to be there.

Very cool.

Oh! And they even gave out beer afterwards. Beer! You know, to replenish the ol' carbohydrates.

Ah hem.

So I was super happy and ultra giddy. Not even because of the Michelob Ultra beer, either. Then I got hit with that wave of melancholy that always hits me after a long race. I originally started running in memory of my sister Deanna and as a way to tell heart disease to kick rocks. I run and I think, "Take that, you thief!" and sometimes I even say out loud, "BOOM! In yo' face, heart disease!" I actually do. Yup. And so. I always dedicate the third and last miles to her. Usually, I run and weep for the final mile and it's fine. People are usually so dog tired that they don't even see me. Or they just think I'm super sweaty or just emotional. But for whatever reason, this time I didn't cry on mile 12 like usual.


It happened after I was sitting in a Thai restaurant with Glencia a few hours later. I had just sent a text to Will and JoLai telling the that I'd finished the race. And then I ended it with this:

"Turns out not where but who you're with that really matters." ~ DMB #runfordeanna

Now. That quote comes from the lyrics to an old Dave Matthews Band song and writing that to them immediately put the song in my head. It also made me hear the next stanza after that line in the song:

"And hurts not much when your around."

Which made me cry. And is making me cry again. And will make me cry anytime I think of it.


Glen was awesome. She let me cry and she understood. She knew Deanna personally and was keenly aware of the hole that was left behind when she departed. And as much as a buzz kill as it was to have me with leaky eyes after her first (awesome) half marathon, she was patient. It was a sunshower, fortunately. And before we knew it, we were back to laughing.

Will and JoLai love the Dave Matthews Band. Deanna and I have always just sort of gone along for the ride with them. Later on, I started listening to Dave Matthews Band a little more and though I didn't fall in love like my eldest and youngest sibs, I did start to hear the lyrics differently. They spoke to my spirit a lot more and I let them. That felt good since I know how much Jo and Will love that band.


I did listen to lots of Dave Matthews on my playlist today. And, specifically, I played "The Best of What's Around" and "Two Step" just to connect me to my siblings. The running part feels spiritual and like I'm connecting with Deanna and the Dave Matthews music part feels like a hug from JoLai and Will at the same time. And all of it together felt good which made me feel strong.

You know what else?

I was with a good friend. A sorority sister, no less. Which made it even better.

Here's what I'm thinking right now: My life is good. It is rich and wonderful and full of love. I have legs that can run strong for 13.1 miles and a heart that can sustain my body when I do. And family and friends that I wouldn't trade for the world.

And so. Celebrate I will. Because life is short but sweet for certain. I'm climbing two by two to be sure these days continue.

And if that doesn't work? I'll make the best of what's around.


"See, you and me
Have a better time than most can dream
Have it better than the best
And so can pull on through
Whatever tears at us
Whatever holds us down
And if nothing can be done
We'll make the best of what's around

Turns out not where but who you're with
That really matters
And hurts not much when you're around."

~ Dave Matthews Band's "The Best of What's Around."

Happy Sunday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . ."Two step". . . 

and my favorite DMB song that always makes me cry. . . "The Best of What's Around."

(I blogged about this song before. Here and here, in case you're interested.)