Sunday, July 29, 2012


I have been thinking a lot recently about mental health.  

And yeah, it makes sense, I am halfway through the psych rotation.  But I have also been thinking a lot about it in a lot of other, and more personal, contexts, as well.

On Thursday afternoon, we got out of work earlier than usual, so I left the hospital and went to a yoga class.

As I sat on my mat and settled in, breathing in and out, unclenching my jaw muscles, relaxing my shoulders down from their semi-permanent position up around my ears, I looked around at the space.  Warm wood floors, exposed brick, rustic ceiling beams, soothing purple walls, sunbeams streaming filtered through windows with light gauzy coverings, giving the room a soft glow.  Orchids, candles and small buddhist statues complete the decor.  Unmistakably a yoga studio.  But also simply just a really beautiful, calming physical place.  And what yoga does so well, at least for me, is protect a small bit of time to stop, breathe deeply, close my eyes, smooth out my forehead, and, even if just for a minute or two, remember that I have all I need.  Even if things outside of that space feel crazy and chaotic and stressful, I can sit and be still and know that everything is and will be alright.  Ceiling fans gently circulate the air, and with its movement, some of the dust from the outside world begins to lift.

And I just kept thinking how lucky I am to be able to come here.  Even if you are not into the whole yoga thing, I don't think there is anyone that would not benefit from a protected moment to be still and breathe.  I kept thinking about the Grady patients I've seen on this rotation.  How many of them could gain so much from the opportunity to come sit here?  Or any safe, calm, beautiful space?  And how unfair that those who need it most are oftentimes the very furthest from an experience like this.

So I am counting my blessings these days.  My many, many blessings.  I am blessed to attend a school I love and to be able to pursue my dream.  I am blessed with caring, supportive friends.  I am blessed with the most amazing family, and blessed that it is still intact.  I am blessed with youth, and with incredible health.  And happiness.  And a pretty damn good sense of humor.  And with the ability to find joy in life, even when life is less than perfect.  I have everything I need.  I have way more than I need.  And this is not meant in any way to reflect some sort of haughty pride in a "hey, look at how great my life is" kind of way.  It's just that something shitty just happened.  Something really, pretty significantly shitty.  And it's not the end of the world, and there are so many things that would be way, WAY worse.  But it's not a small thing, either.  And sometimes I need a little exercise in perspective, because I really do believe deep down that life is good, but I can also feel overwhelmed and in those moments it can be hard to see the long view, to keep in mind the fact that what is happening right now is but small a blip on the radar.  Maybe even something that is working for some unknown greater plan, something that will lead, down the road, to something better than I can even imagine for my life at this moment.  And so, when things are not going according to my plan, it is always good and necessary for me to sit, be still, breathe, go to yoga, pray, count my blessings, and re-learn to trust in the goodness of life.

(Don't you just HATE it when bloggers cryptically refer to something big and awful going on in their lives and then don't elaborate at all??  When I read stuff like that, I'm always like...... AHH WHAT IS IT???  PLEASE JUST TELL ME!!!  I want the story, I'm always dying for the details.  What can I say, I am also just really nosy.  Yeah... sorry, guys.  I have be cryptic for now.)

And, Dr. M, at the end of the yoga class?  I am not making this up... the song on the playlist was Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

This is Your Life on Psych

Good morning, Grady!

Whoa.  I have been majorly blog-slacking this month.  

You might think this is because I am on a really hard and intense rotation... but you would be wrong.  (Well, intense is definitely accurate, but not because of long hours or some crazy call schedule...)

I am on psychiatry right now, and life is good.  So good, in fact, that I have been way too busy taking advantage of the relatively normal working hours to play that I have not stopped to do much of anything else over the past two weeks.  Have no fear... there is a lot to say about what I have seen so far on the rotation, and I am taking plenty of mental notes.

For now, though, and without further ado, here is a small glimpse of life on the psych rotation.

~ ~ ~

Morning sunlight on the Emory campus.

The weather here has been crazy lately.  Around late afternoon/early evening, dark clouds gather and the skies open up, unleashing enormously fat raindrops, thunder and lightning to awesome effect.  I personally love a good summer storm, so I have been enjoying it, even though it has meant canceled workouts or braving the deluge most days, wiping down muddy dogs every time they want in, and a few hours without electricity here and there.

Last Wednesday, there was a torrential downpour just in time for our getting out of a full day of lecture.  I happened to be wearing my favorite sandals, which were most definitely NOT made to get wet.  The pounding rain subsided to a sprinkle after a few minutes, but the streets and sidewalks were already rivers.  

There was no way I was going to ruin my sandals to make it to the parking deck.

I checked with my friend Naomi, to make sure it wasn't completely crazy of me (I mean, we are on psychiatry; it doesn't hurt to get a second opinion about these things) and she confirmed this as an acceptable decision.  

So, I took my shoes off and just went for it, walking a couple of blocks to where my car was parked, totally barefoot.  And it was awesome.  The summer rain washing down the scorching Atlanta sidewalks turned the gushing water into warm rivers that contrasted with the cool raindrops soaking my shoulders.  I strolled past plenty of people who gave me quizzical looks, but I was having too much fun to care.  I used to run around barefoot in the summer all the time, and getting my feet wet in a summer storm took me right back.  Life, people.  It's all about the little things.

Stop judging me.

This rotation is six weeks long, and among other reasons to kick back just a little, the clerkship director is very big on self-care.  In fact, we have to write a short paper - a letter to ourselves - on what we have learned about self-care during this rotation to turn in at the end, and he then mails our letters to us during our intern year after we have graduated.  Cool, right?  Anyway, so I figure all of my extracurricular activities right now also count as educational.  :)

I have been working out every day, going to yoga classes, enjoying dinners with friends, kicking ass at trivia with my FitWit buddies, putting on red lipstick for girls' sushi night, salsa dancing for the first time in forever (twice last week!), even getting in a little pool time with a good book.  And it. Has. Been. Awesome.

Also, I know it can be totally annoying when you open a website and the music is on auto-play and you have your volume turned up and then it's really embarrassing when you are in public (or even worse, a library or a lecture), but I do sort of miss my little playlist feature.  I really liked picking out a new song for every post, matching its feel to my mood and the post's content.  For some reason it doesn't play embedded in blogs anymore, but if it did, today's music selection would be Good Time by Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen.  It makes me happy.  I also love this song because it reminds me of my sister, even though we have never talked about it together... we don't even have to, it's just the kind of song I already know she loves.  Cheesy?  Yep.  Do I care?  Nope.

I have even done some crafting!  Haha... I tried out this make-your-own workout shirt idea from Pinterest with an old 5k race shirt that I never wear.  Cute?  I dunno... jury's still out.

Speaking of exercise, this past Saturday morning I competed in the 1st annual FitWit Games!  (Sort of like a very, very, small-fry, local version of the CrossFit Games, I guess.)  Anyway, it was super hard but really fun.  I don't remember the last time I was in an athletic competition.

There were five separate events, and we competed grouped by gender and age.  Jaclyn, the girl next to me on the bar and fellow Midtown camper, won the whole shebang for women under 40, and I tied for third.  The pic below is from our timed pull-up hold.  (Oh, and before you make any cracks about my outfit, the Midtown crew decided that we were wearing team uniforms and that our theme was AMERICA.  Hence Jaclyn's and my coordinating red, white & blue and matching armbands.  Yeahhhhh team spirit!!)

Afterwards I joined friends for a delicious brunch at Le Petit Marche... awesome meals after a hard workout have got to be pretty much the best thing ever.

Followed up later that evening, of course, with more good times with friends.  And maybe a few adult beverages.

To (mental) health and happiness!  :)

Gratuitous doggie cuteness: Izzy snuggling with her pal Luna

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


The elevator door opened onto the main floor.  

I took a left, feet dragging ever so slightly, shoulders noticeably stooped after a day on my feet.  It hadn't even an especially long day.  We had rounded in the morning, then there had been a couple of surgery cases, nothing major, then we saw a couple of patients and then my resident said I could go by mid-afternoon.  

Still, it was mid-afternoon, about the time when I really start to crash.  My resident had said, "Get out of here! Go enjoy your life!"  I told him that actually, I just needed to go study.  And I knew that what was about to ensue was my daily battle with myself - Should I go to my workout?  Do I go home and study?  How will I not succumb to my overwhelming desire - and need - for a nap?

I walked down the narrow hall on the main floor of the hospital, heading in the direction of the cafeteria and the exit.  Not a super-busy time of day, traffic-wise, in the halls.  Some days, especially when I am feeling down or exhausted, I make it a little personal challenge to smile and greet or at least give a little nod to people as they pass me in the hospital.  Some people give no response and then I feel sort of awkward.  But some people pay me back right away with warm and friendly greetings, and that always just makes me feel about 2 inches taller and 10 degrees happier, no matter what else has been going on.

From a ways off down the hall, I could see a policeman - just his head and his shoulders poking out from behind an elderly couple in front of him - walking in my direction.  As we came closer to each other, I could make out from his posture and his gait that he was pushing a wheelchair.

I smiled and nodded at the elderly couple as I passed them.  They didn't look at me.  Moving right along, my eyes met the policeman's and we both smiled at each other and nodded.  Then I glanced at the wheelchair he was pushing.  

Sitting in it was a big, fat watermelon.

My smile cracked open wide and I laughed out loud.  The policeman kept smiling and nodded again, eyes on me the whole time.  A second later, we were already past each other and moving in opposite directions.  My mouth hung open in a stupid grin as I shook my head, weariness evaporated.  And then from behind me, moving off down the hallway, came his deep baritone laughter, joining mine.

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Honor of the Ob/Gyn Rotation

Special thanks to my roommate Lamya and McSweeney's, from which site this was blatantly copied. In my defense, it was too good not to. 

- - - - 

- - - -

Dear Hospital Staff:

Thank you and congratulations for being on shift for the birth of our child. The following sets forth our wishes for our stay. If a medical emergency requires you to deviate from this plan, please refer to “Jamie and Jeff’s Emergency Birth Plan.” (Tab J) Please note: Jamie is RH Negative and BPA-free.


While we do not have a traditional “philosophy” of “childbirth,” we have been heavily influenced by orthodox Wholefoodism and the “(d)well baby/good design” movement. We believe strongly in the power of the female body and a long-term night nurse. We are opposed to torture/gluten. In the event you are ever unsure how to proceed today, please ask yourself, “What Would Gwyneth Do?”


We would like mood lighting, like on Virgin America.

The following people, who were with us at conception, will again be in the room with us today: Jeff’s mom; Jeff’s sister; Jeff’s sister’s friend, Melanie (plus 2); Jeff Koons.

Please provide WiFi so we can check what you say against Wikipedia and our favorite mom blogs.

Music is very important to us, as music was playing in the Mongolian yurt when we first made love.

In lieu of a traditional hospital gown, Jamie would prefer to be dressed like Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days of Summer.

Please avoid any use of the words “pulsate,” “soiled,” or “octo” in the delivery room.


Jamie would prefer no enema or shaving of pubic hair. If shaving is necessary, she would prefer something in the shape of a vuvuzela. Jeff’s pubic hair should NOT be shaved.

Jeff would like an IV.


Please generally avoid procedures that are totally unnecessary or excruciatingly painful.

Jamie would like Jeff to do the pushing whenever possible.

We have chosen a Doctor (“Mr. Cooper”) because he shares our desire for a natural, low-intervention birth. Mr. Cooper will deliver the baby via Skype from his home in Taos.

If Jamie starts to sob uncontrollably during labor, please turn off The Notebook. In the event the crying continues, please administer the following drugs to Jeff (per Mr. Cooper): Darvocet, Diamorphine, Vicodin, Medical Marijuana.

If induction is necessary, Jamie would like to try the following before Pitocin is administered: walking, stretching, flipping over, rolfing, online browsing, nipple stimulation and/or sexual intercourse.

Nipple stimulation should be done by the resident Jamie met on the tour who looks like Benjamin Bratt.


We strongly prefer a girl.

If you have not already done so, please now take a few minutes and read Early Admission: How to Deliver an Ivy League Baby!

Jeff will remain in the squatting position throughout delivery.

When the crown of the head appears, please turn down the music as Jeff will be reading aloud from Be Here Now by Ram Dass.

Please, no texting while suctioning.

Jamie would like a mirror so that she can see the horrible expression on her face if it’s a boy.

IMPORTANT: if the baby appears to be black, please immediately escort Jeff out of the room and bring in Jeremy Rayburn from the 5th Floor waiting area.

In the event of a Cesarean, please practice Western medicine.


We are interested in the following preschools: St. James, The Schoolhouse at Cedar Point, or Kidsplace. Willow Glen is ONLY a backup.

Jamie would like Jeff circumcised.

Please do not cut the cord until we are through the toddler years.

We would like the baby certified organic by Oregon Tilth.

Please don’t put the baby on a scale, as we don’t want her to have the same body image issues as her fat mom.

We would like to donate the placenta to the people of the Gulf Coast.

We ask that the baby be bathed in our presence, in the delivery room, in San Pellegrino.

Per Mr. Cooper, do not feed the baby mussels.

Per Gisele Bundchen, do not give the baby a bottle (i.e. chemicals) for at least 6 months.

If the baby must be taken from the room because of a medical emergency, we would like Jeff to accompany the child. (In this scenario, Benjamin Bratt would stay with Jamie. Please maintain mood lighting and insert the CD in Jamie’s handbag labeled,WHEN JEFF LEAVES.)

We will not be vaccinating our baby. Please vaccinate all other babies on this floor.

Jeff and Jamie 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I Have an Exam Coming Up on Friday

... so clearly this means that so far today, I have:
  • worked out
  • made breakfast
  • washed dishes
  • learned why I can't have it all
  • cleaned the fish tank
  • given my dog a bath
  • showered
  • SHAVED MY LEGS (and yes, this deserves to be its own event and in all caps)
  • done laundry
  • changed my sheets
  • bought shampoo and conditioner
  • rearranged some furniture
  • written this blog post.
It is obviously time for a nap now.

Also, IT IS JULY?  How did that happen??!?

maybe my shirt will help...?
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