Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weighing Heavy Tonight

I get desensitized sometimes. I do what I am required, the 'bread and butter' exams of my job, and forget that there are horrible and amazing things happening all the time. "Stand by, I may need you to bring the pericardial-thoracentesis kit down here." Words uttered into a phone by someone as I wheeled a patient back to their room. "You guys have some very serious things happening here tonight," the worried face spoke to me. Not knowing how to answer, I simply said, "Yep. Its one of those nights." A man, standing at the corner of a hallway, leaning against the wall as if indifferent. Doctors approach him and speak in muffled tones, making me realize that his family is hurting. Someone he loves dearly is not doing well. He stiffly wipes the tears from his cheeks, attempting to remain composed. I see the best and worst parts of myself come out here. It is humbling and causes me to take a different posture. Once again I'm reminded of my fallible nature and desperate need for grace.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Health, As a Choice

I work in traditional medicine. In fact, I report to work at one of the biggest and newest hospitals in Oregon. I went to college, got a degree, and help in putting the pieces together to figure out what can be done for sick or injured people on a weekly basis. I also have very strong opinions about health care and, specifically, about people's decisions in relation to the care they receive. More than anything else in one's life, I believe that a person's autonomy when it comes to the treatment or help they receive should be absolutely and completely their choice, not swayed one centimeter by someone else's bias. Whether that means they choose to fore go treatment for ovarian cancer because they want to "go out with my girl parts" or they try every possible test and medicine in order to prolong life a little longer. It is that person's decision, and it should be respected to the utmost not only by health care professionals but also by family and friends. This is my conviction. So as an exercise of this freedom and conviction, I did not get a flu shot this year. Last flu season (December, 2009) I actually caught the H1N1 virus from the shot I received at work, and therefore was sick for the better part of a week. This suffering, coupled with a campaign for a certain percentage of adherence in employees of our hospital that I completely disagree with, was enough to make me sign a waiver declining the vaccination at work. However, this decision did not come without a cost. We are officially declared to be in 'flu season' now, so because of my declination I am now required to don a mask over my nose and mouth anytime I am in a patient care area of the hospital. This is a policy at my place of work, so I adhere, but as one physician I spoke with tonight expressed, I feel like I am being punished. There is a contingent of workers here who also have their masks on, so I feel some amount of camaraderie. However, patients have more than once inquired about my mask, given me suspicious looks, and seemed very uneasy with me helping them. I explain the mask does not denote sickness. In fact, I feel wonderful. But it is policy. I cannot help but feel like me exercising my freedom of choice in my health care and personal health, because it does not fit the mold, is causing me to be ostracized. Maybe I'm overreacting, but it sure is not enjoyable.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


A sweet patient I x-rayed tonight gave me a book recommendation. He was on chemo precautions, attached at an IV and has a tube in his nose that caries nutrition from a bottle of brown liquid down to his stomach. I had to x-ray him to make sure that tube was in the right spot, and his difficulty hearing made the conversation sort of awkward, but I did the x-ray and then noticed a book on his table. I asked if it was good. "Yes, very good." I told him I'd read it. I walked out of his room and back to my department. He lays there even now, with a disease coursing through his body that the doctors are trying to irradicate with nasty medications. My health is something I take for granted, but tonight I'm reminded of it.
I just read the story of a friend of mine from a long time ago. Her first son was still-born last year, completely turning her and her husband's world upside down. I just read the story and as tears welled in my eyes I had an overwhelming sense of what great faith looks like. What standing amidst trials looks like. What really believing God is who He says He is looks like. I get caught in my own little world so often, thinking I am entitled to feel bad about my situation. Wow. How selfish and vain of me? Again, a new perspective on this very blessed life I live. He has my life, in beautiful sovreignty He holds my life.
"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, February 14, 2011


It all began Friday evening. I joined an indoor soccer team a month ago and we’ve now played two games. I think I’m addicted, too. After I leave the game I crave it, and I wish I was playing more days a week than just one. I’m enjoying not only the competition, but also the company, as I play with some friends who I’ve known since elementary school. Our game Friday was a good one, even though the score seemed like it was a close one, we were ahead by a significant amount the entire game. We won, elated by the teamwork and sweet passes that led to some clutch goals.

Saturday morning was a lazy, stay in my pajamas until after breakfast has been eaten, kind of morning. These rarely happen with Landon and I so they are VERY welcomed when they occur. Banana pancakes and coffee filled, I was deeply happy and excited about the day. Around lunch time a few of my cousins and a friend came to our house and we all headed towards Cougar Reservoir, ultimately making our way to the hot springs that are right up there. It was a little hike to get to the hot pools, but so worth it. Clothing is optional up there, but thankfully working in healthcare and especially the hospital, this doesn’t really offend or bother me. Recently I’ve been in numerous situations where people were unashamed about their body types. This has been a very poignant lesson for me, and I am continually amazed about it. As a woman in America, I always seem to look at other’s bodies and wonder why mine doesn’t look like theirs. But the funny thing is, they may be doing the same thing about mine. Why not just be happy and content with myself? It has been a question that I haven’t ever found a good answer for, but I think the answer continues to come as healing happens. The hot springs just reiterated the lesson: be happy and confident in your own skin. Its beautiful.

BrewFest was happening Saturday evening and after a text message from my cousin invited us, we decided to go. We headed home to wash the hot spring slime off ourselves and get some food in our bellies, and then we’d head to the fair grounds to taste the brews by many local and faraway breweries. Twelve dollars got us in the door, a taster glass and one taste, with each taste being a dollar after that. I am a huge fan of dark beers, so I stuck to those and was really happy to taste some new good ones. Laurelwood had an organic Vanilla Porter that was super smooth and delicious, and Block 15 from Corvallis also had a dark beer called Love Potion #9 (or something like that) and it was scrumptious. All the people, commotion, friends and laughter made it an extremely enjoyable evening. I am incredibly blessed to have some amazing friends who also happen to be my cousins, and each time I hang out with them I’m more and more grateful that we are so close. Its unique and I appreciate it.

Committed Partners for Youth is an organization I really believe in and would love to volunteer with, but due to life stuff, I can’t right now. So instead we paid our entry fee and ran the 4 mile Truffle Shuffle on a drizzly Sunday afternoon to support them. Its the first organized run Landon and I have done together and I can foresee more in our future. We ran a 8:38 minute/mile pace, finishing the four miles in just over 34 minutes. I loved the pitter patter of all the runners’ feet on the black top as we literally shuffled down the path that runs out of Alton Baker Park towards I-5. The runners ranged in age dramatically, but everyone was enjoying themselves and breathing a little heavier by the end. It was a sweet end to a fabulous weekend and as we walked back to the car I told Landon that I really felt like I finally connected with where I live. It was an surreal but welcomed realization.

All in all, this past weekend left me feeling very connected to my community. This may sound a little fluffy, and somewhat whimsical, but I feel like if you knew how big of a deal this is for me, you’d understand the absolute gravity of the statement. I cannot remember the last time I felt this way in Eugene, and in fact I am tempted to say it has never happened. As I have said before, I’m a ‘travel-dreamer’, always looking at pictures from another country, always wondering at how I might come to find myself right there in the midst of those photographs. Unfortunately for me, those photographs never seem to have Eugene in the background. Oops. But this town is the background of my life for right now, so how do I reconcile these seemingly opposing forces? I don’t have a good answer for that question. But this weekend did offer some reprieve.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hear, Ponder, Repeat.

Listening to Tales

I met a pirate. In the most literal sense of the word, he was one. A long, scraggly gray beard hung from his chin, while wispy gray-white hair framed his weathered face. Missing teeth caused a slight lisp to hang on the edges of certain words, and his mustache told the tale of many cigarettes that had been smoked, as they each left their brownish residue on the hairs. His long fingernails told the same tale, one stained yellow from the nicotine and tar found in the small vice sticks. Jeweled gold rings littered his fingers like icing on a cake, and his bare toes donned a couple of rings as well. He spoke of his ancestors, poor soldiers who had helped build Solomon's temple. Contrasting their appearance with their perfect Arabic dialect, they were a rare breed. Eventually taking to the sea, they sailed many waters, helping some, pillaging from others. His eye gave a little sparkle as he recounted their many adventures, something he was obviously proud and sure of. Never thinking he'd live past twenty, he complained of the ailments of being in his mid-fifties. He couldn't fight like he used to, his body gave out when his mind willed it to remain sharp. He told stories of prison tattoos, made from melting the blue prison-issued toothbrush down and using the staple from the match case as the needle. It explained their faded, worn look. He'd served three tours overseas, recounting his ability to place bullets very accurately from long distances. Connecting on hunting and weaponry, we laughed over the delicacies of venison and elk. He donned large cowboy boots, over sized enough to give the imagination space to easily make them into the pirate boots of his ancestors. Had a large brimmed hat been on his head, a sword on his hip, and a long coat over his shoulders, I would not have been surprised. He was a pirate, through and through.