Two Months of Setbacks and Growth

This past 2 months has been a LONG two months of ups and downs, frustration & doubt and small nearly imperceptible successes on a day by day basis.

I’m far far far from where I expected to be at the end of April 2015, but then again many things have happened that I didn’t plan on.

Comparing where I WANT to be with where I AM is a huge source of frustration and anxiety for me. Not only physically (strength) wise, but also activity, yard work, personal projects, a book I’m co-writing, time and attention to my athletes, spring flowers, spring cleaning and the list goes on…

I don’t have this figured out by any means, but I know there is definitely some learning in here somewhere. I’ve ben listening to (and following along) with a lot of meditation podcasts (my favorite being ‘meditation-minis’) and the common theme that I’m picking up has to do with letting things go, setting things aside, putting things behind me, being OK with where (and who) I am now.

Part of me wishes I’d started a journal when this accident happened because I’ve been through so many ups and downs, but I don’t think I’d have enough time in a day to put all my thoughts down in words. I’ve just decided to absorb it all one day at a time and be the me that emerges each day when I open my eyes.

Some times it’s not who I wanted to be, but there’s not a lot I can do about that. I’m thankful for the sun, friends & athletes with patience, a caring boyfriend that knows how to wash dishes and do laundry, kitties that keep me cozy and warm and a big park to take walks in and decompress and think. Or not think.

And hopefully I’m done with viral respiratory illnesses for another year or two…what a setback this past week as been. So frustrating.

Perspectives on Physical Therapy

I went to physical therapy today for an evaluation after my car accident. While I was there, I noticed a young, healthy, athletic looking woman who came in on crutches, with fresh surgical scars on her knees take…her first steps.

“I can walk!” she said.

I have no idea what her injury or surgery was, but the therapist was teaching her movement by movement … heel first, then the foot. Let your knee bend a little, now step forward. She was relearning how to walk, step by step.

Extracting Riches from Time

Extracting Riches from Time

In Houston waiting for the flight to Pittsburgh now 4 minutes late. Plane pulls up to the gate. Me: “oh good, the plan is here!” Everyone around me: ” grumble grumble late grumble grumble”

Perspective people, perspective. You are all blessed with the freedom and income to travel. Unfortunately complaining and bad attitudes seem to be included.

I have learned so much from those who have fewer material goods than I do, but whom are far richer in extracting the most from each moment in life.



Hanging up the Stethescope

Hanging up the Stethescope

Well, it’s been a long time in coming, but I feel that it’s time to share it with all of you.  Doc Shazam is hanging up the stethescope.  I’ve had it, I’m through. The healthcare field sickens me both literally and figuratively.  I’ve gained weight, can’t sleep, suffer from migraines, have chronic shift worker’s disease, chronic sleep deprivation, and am horribly out of shape. I’ve sacrificed not only my physical health for this profession, but also my social health. I get anxious and feel panic well up inside of me when my friends mention going away for a weekend.  Why? Chances are more likely than not I’ll have to work that weekend. If not the weekend, then definately the friday night before.   Last year I didn’t get to participate in a single weekend bike race…a passion of mine, because I either worked every weekend, or every friday night until 1 or 3am.  For long time readers of Doc Shazam, you know how much I love to bike.

For all the wonderful things that come from being a doctor…the priveledge and thrill of saving lives, running codes, knowing how to set broken bones and suture kids faces without scarring…there are far more downsides for me.

No matter what the paycheck, it’s not worth it if I’m constantly tired, constantly have a headache, cannot pursue relationships with friends or family on a routine basis.

Yes, I know that there are many other physicians that (seem) to be able to do all of this, but when I discuss my recent decision with them, they all express a wish that they too could follow the same path.

What will Doc Shazam do?  Hopefully write.  Ride her bike. Coach Triathletes & cyclists. Garden. Find myself again.  Rid myself of insomnia, anxiety and panic.  Restore relationships with friends and family.  And become a better bike racer.

Reviving Sourdough

Reviving Sourdough

Thought I’d try to revive this blog the same way I’m reviving my sourdough starter…by cultivating the good and allowing that growth to eliminate the bad.  This blog used to be about my discoveries & fun encounters with a variety of things…birding, biking, learning medicine, etc.  Then it became a rant against the current status of american health care & delivery.

Well I don’t want to cultivate that anymore.  I want to revive my expression of learning & wonder about the world that surrounds us.

Sourdough, i learned, is active due to two primary organisms…yeast & lactobacillus.  The particular strains of each are what gives sourdough it’s wonderful taste.  2 days ago I dug out a starter I’d made nearly a year ago. It was more like a science project than a starter.  I carefully scraped off the mold & oxidized gray parts and scooped the rest into a bowl. I added some warm water, stirred vigerously to reoxygenate and added some flour.

To may amazement, the next day I found bubbles!  I carefully stirred & fed it again following the instructions here for reviving sourdough.

This morning, I actually got out a food scale, I want to do it right. I measured out 100 grams of my revival project, added 50 g of water and 50 g of flour and set it in the oven with the light on.  If all goes well, I’ll be blogging about some amazing bread in a few days. Stay tuned.

History of Doc Shazam…a Recursive Trip down Memory Lane

I invented blogging. No really.  As a first year medical student in 1998, I was trying to develop a Visual basic application that would auto-publish entries from an access database on my home computer to my University web account, but alas, I was busy with things like anatomy and biochemistry.

The following year, a senior student introduced me to the idea of creating a blog, which at that time, was still an unheard of medium for creating web content (and who had ever heard of “content”?).  Finally, by the end of my intern year, while sitting in the ICU trying to keep a twenty year old race car driver alive, I wrote my first blog post.   Then I wrote another and another. I documented my revelations about learning medicine, the journey that my own patients revealed to me.

Daily as my sleep deprived mind both memorized standard practice and absorbed new journal articles, I was constantly writing.  I’d care for a sick child and in my mind I was blogging about it.   I performed my first trauma resuscitation and in my mind I was blogging.  When the Amish family of a dying man sang in the ICU…I blogged about it.

At that point, my blog was one of the most popular medical blogs and the first emergency medical blog that I know of. As popularity increased I tried hard to both capture my thoughts, emotions and experiences while remaining anonymous. I shared my journey of becoming a physician with my readers..through the cold clinical discoveries, to saving my first life, to learning (again) that patients are people…my thoughts were all open.  All of these things I shared publicly, with the world, with anyone who had an internet connection.

Interview requests from medical writers came and I declined.  I did not want anyone to know who I was, I feared that I had shared too much about myself.  But at the same time, my family felt closer to me than they ever had. My father still recounts stories from that time…stories I’d never told him personally, yet he’s got the words nearly memorized. My grandmother kept a printed stack of my stories on her reading table. When I miss my grandfather…I can just revisit my blog and the memories come flooding back (and I usually shed a tear or two).

Through my anonymous blogging life I made friends, grieved for friends, watched friends rise to (relative fame) and yet I retreated.  At points in my life my blog was my solace, my retreat and my joy. My blog sits now docile for the most part, a series of a thousand or so tiny milestones in the process of becoming a physician. It will always be  a part of  who I’ve become, who I was then and who I’ll be tomorrow.

Blogging is a powerful tool.