Thursday, October 30, 2014

Six month follow up.

*inner thoughts in italics


"Good morning. Long time no see."


"Yeah, I know. And before you can say it, I know what you're thinking. I'm working on it."


"Um, okay."


Just because you're the doctor doesn't mean that you know more than me. Just because you have all those letters behind your name and that white coat and that embroidery on your pocket doesn't make you the authority on all that should happen with me and my body.

I get a say, you know. I do. And whether you like it or not, I will.


Sometimes you perplex me. Sometimes I wonder why, if you already felt so set on what you want or what you thought or what you think, that you sought my opinion. Sometimes I wonder if you even wanted to know my thoughts on you at all. Sometimes I think it feels like you're trying to bully me. But I have to make an assessment based upon everything I see and hear.

Even if you don't like it.


Your answer to everything is that I need to lose weight. My sugar is too high, so I should lose weight. My blood pressure is up so I should lose weight. My back is hurting so I should lose weight. My sleep isn't good so I should lose weight.

You know what? You could probably stand to lose a few things, too. Starting with that attitude. If I didn't need my prescriptions, I'd never see a doctor again.


So what would be your preference? Would you prefer that just ignore the fourteen pounds you gained since the last time you were here? Would it be more ideal for me to simply refuse to factor your body mass index of thirty something into the medical problems that I know for certain are worsened by that fact? Should I not even try to implore you to rage against those extra pounds since I know for certain that doing that will do more for you than any pill or prescription or referral I can write for you? Should I? Or should I not? And tell me, should I simply shrug my shoulders and say, "Oh well" when I get a call from the inpatient hospital doctors informing me about the cardiovascular event you just had? Should I shake my head and say, "I tried my best" and go on to my next patient? I mean, to preserve our relationship as doctor and patient and also to preserve my sanity--should I?

Tell me. Because I'm running out of answers. And my empathy is on fumes.


Here's what I think: Coming to the doctor shouldn't feel like a lashing. When I see you, I feel like you just pulled a switch off of a bush right before you walked into the door. Your eyes look disapproving and your chest heaves in and out like I'm some sort of lost cause. Then you start making all of these recommendations and horrible predictions about what could happen if I don't do what you say. My legs are bloody and scarred from your lashing. Which makes me run away and vow to never come back.



Did you know that I don't have all of the answers? Like, I don't. But if I did, you know, have answers to all of this and if I did, you know, have a way to get you to hear what I'm saying without it feeling like I'm insulting you or raining on your parade, I would. The truth, though, is this. There are eight more people I have to see after you.

And you need to lose some weight.


Just give me my prescriptions.


Just take your prescriptions.


I'm never coming back here again.


I wonder if that patient will ever come back here again.


"Have a good day, doctor."


"Six months for follow up?"


"Yeah. Okay. Six months."


For the record: We are all works in progress and we all fall short. A lot. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes though? Not so much.


Welcome to Thursday.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

"Wake me up singing."

Zachary: "For my birthday tomorrow morning, I want you to wake me up singing."

Me:  "Singing?"

"Yes. Singing. I want you to wake me up singing a happy song that tells me how much you love me and how happy you are that I was born."

Me:  "Hmmm. Well I am happy that you were born."

Zachary:  "I mean it, Mama."

Me:  "I could try, son. But I'm just thinking. . .my voice isn't really a voice for singing so much. Other than to you guys when you were smaller."

Zachary: "But I like when your voice is singing to me and my brother. It always makes me feel really happy inside. And special."

Me:  "Okay. Then I'll wake you up singing tomorrow."

I kissed him on the forehead, pulled his covers over his shoulder, and walked out of the room. And that was that.

This morning, I tiptoed into his room, sat quietly beside him on his bed, and then I leaned over him. Scooping him into my arms still groggy and rag doll limp, I whispered straight into his now eight year old ear:

"When I wake up in the mornin', love
And the sunlight hurts my eyes
And somethin' without warnin', love
Bears heavy on my mind

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
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day)
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day)

A lovely day
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day)
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day)

When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face
When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way

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
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day)
(Lovely day, lovely day, lovely day, lovely day). . ."

And you know what my baby boy did in response? Even while half asleep, he hugged my neck as tight as he could. I could feel his smiling cheeks bulging on the side of my shoulder when he said, "Thank you so much, Mama. I feel like I can do anything now. And like my whole year is gonna be happy." 

I replied, "I hope your whole life is happy, son." 

And he hugged me once more and said, "So far, it has been. And I think I'm gonna try to keep it going, okay Mom?"

I squeezed him tighter and responded, "Me too, son."

Me, too.

Happy birthday, Zachary. Sometimes? Man. Sometimes we get it right.

Happy Thursday. It's been a lovely day and a lovely eight years so far.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . . the song that made my son feel happy today. Which made me happy, too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A thread of randoms including a cowbell.

Good evening. I have some stories in my head that I want to write down but they can't get out until I move the random thoughts out of the way. And so, I will.

Here goes. . . . .

What's the deal with Stacey Dash? You know. . .the woman who was in that movie Clueless (which was, hands down, one of Deanna's favorites) and who is now saying lots of clueless things on FoxNews? Yeah, her. She's a hard core republican and now stands in regularly on Sean Hannity's show. Okay, and let me just come right out and say this before someone else misunderstands: For the record, I do not believe that being black automatically mandates that you be a democrat. But I do think that the same way there is "girl code" and "dude code" that there just has to be a bit of a "underrepresented minority code" that should be upheld whenever possible. Oh, and that code includes not referring collectively to your people in Louisiana as having a "plantation mentality"--that is  under the Obama administration---on live television. Even if, God forbid, you felt that way.

Super disappointing.

Not that she is a republican. But that she felt like that was an okay thing to say. Plantation mentality? How hurtful is it to evoke a slavery reference? Fail, man. Double thumbs down.

What else?

The pink is for Breast Cancer awareness.

I am a full on football mom for sure. I was talking to a friend at work who said she couldn't even picture me as a football mama. At which point I promptly pulled my cowbell out of my purse and showed it to her. Because, I'm saying, you can always use more cowbell.


Zachary had a sleepover on Saturday. He turns eight on Thursday and promptly reminded me that, although we don't have parties on birthdays that can't be divided by five, his brother DID have a few buddies sleep over when he turned eight. So he didn't so much as ask me but sort of notified me that he'd be doing the same. Except for a few things that would be different:

  1. He has three best friends, not two like Isaiah did at eight. This means it is unavoidable to have more than two friends sleep over. 
  2. One of his best friends has a brother who is in fourth grade like Isaiah. And Isaiah will be there. And they get along well (remember, Mom?) And that, remember Mom when you and dad said it is so awesome when something includes the other brother? And how not awesome it is when things that totally could involve both boys doesn't which is why you usually welcome the siblings? Well, that makes it four boys coming over, okay?
  3. I don't want a cake or to go anywhere. I just want you to let us play outside as long as we want. Even if it is a little bit chilly.

Easy enough. And so they did. They played outside even when it was chilly and played inside, too. And the boys were happy and you know what? I was, too.

Hmmmm. . . .

You know what I realized the other day while standing in the express line at Publix? I realized that I think few things are cuter than a little baby with a pacifier in his or her mouth. I just love the sight of a little 8 or 9 month old sucking away on a binky. So stinking cute.


Let me tell you this: I feel the EXACT opposite about spotting big kids with pacifiers. Not even cute. Like, at all. So, check it. When I was at Publix that day, this lady had a baby on her hip that looked all Lisa Simpson cute with her paci in her mouth. Wait. Was that Lisa? Oh hell. I forgot the baby's name on the Simpsons but you know who I'm talking about. Anyways. The baby is all cute and gurgle and I'm just smiling at her mom and raising my eyebrows. Because that baby was super cute.

Then I hear a little voice and look down. What did I see? Another kid who appeared to be about 4 or so going to town on his own pacifier. Ma

Matter of fact, he took it out of his mouth and pointed the nipple at the candy bars asking for a Snicker please.

And yes. The boy said, "A Snicker bar please."

Maaaaan, I wanted to smack that thing out of his hand like Shaq on a jumper. He had a big giant overbite, too. And I am very proud of myself for remaining in my lane. I am.

Yeah, man.

Hey. Do any of you get your underarms waxed? Best. Thing. Ever. I'm for real. If you've never tried it, you should. You'll be wondering where it's been all your life.

I went running at Stone Mountain park last weekend and was doing a long run. I hit a bathroom at mile five and there was a few people waiting  in line. Just as I got to the front, this woman walks in and says, "Scuse me, but how bad you got to go?"

I looked from left to right like, Is she talking to me? Well. She was.

"Ummmm. . ."  That was my response because I was so caught off guard.

"Do you have to do number one or number two?" she went on. And just before it could get any weirder, one of the stall doors flew open. "Gotta go," I said. No pun intended.

Yes. That woman asked me if I had to do number 1 or number 2. Craziness.

Ummm. . .let me see. . .anything else? Oh. Yes. This.

I did a turn and burn to Scottsdale, Arizona to give a talk at Mayo's "Managing Complex Patients" Conference. It was logistically a nightmare to get to but after the talk it felt sort of like a mini vacay.

Yeah, so that was cool.

Hey! How cool is it that this woman, Leah R., is now my intern? Remember her from her very first day on the Internal Medicine wards as a student? Time flies, man. She's a big girl now.

Le sigh.

Oh, and this--my all girl ward team.


Yawn. That's all I've got. What's up with y'all?

Happy Hump Day!

Now on my mental iPod. . . because sometimes you just get a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell. Funniest. SNL skit. Ever.

More Cowbell - Saturday Night Live from Dee Three on Vimeo.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Best. Husband. Ever.

You love me especially different every time
You keep me on my feet happily excited
By your cologne, your hands
Your smile, your intelligence

You woo me, you court me
You tease me, you please me
You school me, give me some things to think about

Ignite me, you invite me
You co-write me, you love me
You like me, you incite me to chorus

Ooh, ooh, ooh

~ Jill Scott


"I'd do anything for you," he told me recently.

"I know this." This was my reply.

"I love you so much," his simple texts often read.

"You more" is my usual response. But it should be "I know."

Because, I do. I know. I know that he loves me. Through the look in his eyes. But especially his actions. His kind gestures that say, "I know this matters to you so I will do it." Those things that shift him away from his comfort zone and into mine. The teeny-tiny things like turning on the seat warmers in my car or picking me up some mediterranean food because he knows I love it and not caring so much that he doesn't.

I walk into the room and he says, "You okay, baby?" And he asks it like he means it. Like, if for some reason I am not okay, he will do whatever it is I ask of him to help me get okay. Which is awesome.

There are some things he's not. Like, he's not schmoozy. At all. He can be a bit of an introvert when faced with many-many people and generally won't be the one yucking it up with the boss or jumping onto the stage to belt out Marvin Gaye at the annual holiday party. His flowers are handed to me quietly on days like Tuesday and his surprise gifts on times that don't usually coincide with milestones. He is honest. The jeans that smash my butt like a pancake will be reported to me as such if I ask and fortunately not so much when I don't.

He believes in me. In this understated way, he looks at me like whatever it is I am trying to do is attainable. Or maybe even more than attainable. Like. . .I don't know. . .it's already done. He's not the guy throwing the confetti at me at the end of the half marathon. But if I asked him to do that, he would. That is, if he could tell that it was important to me. Which makes me think of another tender thing about the man I married: I often measure whether or not to tell him what I want against how seriously I want it. Why? Because he will do whatever he has to do to get it for me. Or do it for me. To help me get "okay."

His love makes me feel beautiful. I mean it. Beautiful. 

He loves me. Especially different. Even on an ordinary Monday, he does. And for that, I am thankful.


Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . .Jill Scott providing a perfect soundtrack to how I feel every single day that I get to be with this man. Listen and you'll feel me. He incites me to chorus. . .loudly. . . because he loves me. And you know what? I love him, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Looking for the love getaway.

Here's a few little pieces of this little life of mine. 
Little stones skipping on the not-so-placid lake of my life.

On rounds yesterday:

Someone said, "Grady Hospital saved my life."

I replied, "It saved mine, too."

Taking Zachary's picture at football last weekend.

"What is this expression on your face, son?" I laughed out loud.

"This is my 'game face,' Mom. Everybody needs a game face you know."


Two of my favorite nice Jewish gentlemen that happen to have a connection as present and former Grady doctors. Yes. Doctors. (Sorry, ladies--they're taken.)

Julie and I were practicing the ending to the lecture we gave last week at the Hospital Medicine conference. "Let's just chuck a deuce at the end!" I said.

"How about double deuces?" she replied.


I met Esele when she first came out of nursing school and started working at Grady several years back. She was proudly wearing a Delta Sigma Theta lanyard while drawing up meds.

"You're a Delta girl?" I asked.

"You know it!" she responded.

"Where were you made?" I went on.

Her chest poked out and she said, "At the Gamma Tau chapter. Tuskegee University."

Boom. And yes she said THE Gamma Tau chapter which I loved. And yes, of all the Deltas I meet, this thrilled me to no end to meet one who pledged into the same chapter I did.
Albeit over a decade later.

Two Tuskegee Deltas stamping out disease at Grady. She's now the nurse manager on that same floor where we met and we've been connected ever since.

Cool, right?

Sent this selfie to my good friend who is fighting a new diagnosis of breast cancer.

"You got this," I wrote in a text. Then I added this hashtag:


I love this picture of Grady taken on my way out last week. I really do.

I wear red whenever I give a lecture somewhere. It used to be mostly because it's my "power color."

It's still that. But also it reminds me of Deanna and makes me imagine her on the front row. That gives me wings every single time.

My dear Grady BFF Lesley had just given the big-big Grand Rounds in front of all of the big-big people. It was absolutely spectacular.

"Be honest. How was it?" she asked.

"It was the best Grand Rounds I've ever seen," I replied.

Which was true.

On a day when I was thinking about how right it feels for me to be at Grady. I was in the zone when I took this picture and wanted to capture it.

So I did.

Team selfie on a random work day. Why? Why not?

Is it normal to be in love with your children? Because I am. 

I mean, most days. Yeah. Most days I am. This day I was.

With my awesome high school senior nephew, Dave. They say I'm the one who spit him out which makes us all laugh. He looks more like me than my kids or his own parents. Even in specs. 

He's a great kid.

"I'm headed down the Atlanta highway. . . .
looking for the love getaway. . ."

~ The B-52s

The other day, the kids and I were rocking out in the car on I-285 to "Love Shack" by the B-52s.  Not when this picture was taken, of course. It just reminds me of us jamming out that day.

And no, I don't take selfies on interstate 285. 

So that. Us and music together. Especially that particular song on that particular day. It was so, so awesome. That song will forever make me happy no matter what and I love that it made them happy, too.

Work ages my hands. But it also reminds me that I do important things with them. So I love them anyway.

Cold weather running season is here. I'm so happy. And feeling rather bad ass.

Can't you tell?

This is my close friend and line sister Ebony. She's a breast cancer survivor--and one of the reasons I am so thankful for breast cancer treatment and detection. Love her so. 

She is so full of light, right?

Life is good. Reflecting on it is like the love getaway for me. 


That's all I have. That, and this--the B-52s singing "Love Shack." 

I dare you to try to listen to this without getting up and rocking out. I dare you.

*You're welcome.* 

Who wants to yell out: "TIN ROOF! RUSTY!"

Happy HUMP DAAAAAAY! Got my game face on for the last day of wards. Le sigh.