Friday, September 28, 2007

Time Traveller

I feel like I fell asleep in Hawaii on Monday and woke up on Wednesday in Nashville. Yes, I was briefly in LA, but really it sort of felt like I woke up in a fog in the Country Western capital of the world and I couldn't quite figure out how I got there. Additionally, in this meeting the last few days, I have spent more hours continuously working then I have in at least 10 months. Maybe it is good prep for me, as I am officially reentering my clinical work world on Monday when I have to spend my first night in the hopsital since last November. I am afraid of going back to work. I hope that my skills aren't rusty. So, I guess officially I woke up form my vacation and started sort of working full time (even though I am not going to be fully in the clinical schedule until January). Still it feels like I now work full time. I hope that I can go forward and stick to my guns with my current goals of how to work life and career in together.

I think I have entered phase 6- Back to Work Better Than Before

Wish me luck

Thursday, September 20, 2007


4 months to the day after I was allowed to start walking again, I woke up in a hotel room in Hawaii looking out over the Pacific Ocean. I decided to go for a walk along the beach to something called Sweetheart Rock, the Hawaiian equivalent of a Romea and Juliet tale. The day was beautiful, the sky amazing and I relished each moment.

Sweetheart Rock

Later that day I went scuba diving with my friend Lisa to a point called 1st cathedral and a second spot, no name paradise. I hadn't been scuba diving since I was in Belize a year and a half ago where I got certified as my 35th birthday present to myself.
The dive was fantastic, and the day amazing. It hit me towards the middle of the day that it marked this 4 month point. Somehow, it seemed so powerful to me while I was in this cathedral thing, an underwater arch of sorts with openings to the water and sky above that allow in an etheral light- if you don't believe in a power greater than yourself than you have never been in a place like that. The scope of what I have been through, the beauty of where I am now, the miracle that has lead me here, it all seems so great. I have said many times that coming to Hawaii with the ability to do what I am describing gave me strength to forcus, strength to get here with few limitations to what I can do and here I am. I feel so blessed.

A few pictures from below the ocean floor.

Lisa and I underwater, hanging loose.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I might not come home!

The view from our balcony

LF and I enjoy a welcome cocktail

More random pix

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I can't believe it is finally here. I leave for Hawaii tomorrow, early. I am seriously like a kid before Christmas in hyperoverdrive. I can't wait to get there, swim in that wonderful clear ocean, dive to the depths of the sea, hike along the cliffs etc. I can't wait. I can't wait. I feel like I have been waiting and dreaming about this trip for so long, as I made the reservations months and months ago to give me something to look forward to when radiation was kicking my tail and I was feeling sad and sorry for myself. See that is how I dealt with that miserable present was to give me something wonderful to look forward to in the future. Now the future is here and it is WONDERFUL and that present is a distant memory that I can almost pretend happened to someone else. As I said the other day, this trip has given me purpose in my rehab, it has given me something to look forward to. I have had concrete goals and now I am here having met almost all of my goals. I am off to enjoy all the previously mentioned activities and more.

Bon voyage, I'll see you on the other side.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why I do my job!!

I have moaned and complained about my work lately and especially in my last post. My work is demanding and stressful and can be a political minefield. Sometimes I need to be reminded of why I put up with it and actually even like it. Being away form the bad of work for so long was great, but being away from the good also took away that positive reinforcemnet.

Yesterday while working feverishly on project number 2, I got a call that a former patient was in the unit and wanted to see me- well OK her parents wanted to see me. I dropped what I was doing and went out to visit. Now, let me tell you a little about this baby. SHe was born with a diaphragmatic hernia and was about as sick from that disease as you can be. Without giving detail, at a little over a month of age she was dying and we had exhausted all standard therapy and even some not so standard therapy and her body was beginning to quit. I talked to everyone i could think about about what to do with her. I had to have "the talk" with her parents that they needed to consider how they wanted her to die, but I had one thing left up my sleaves a medication that I had studied when I was a fellow, but it was experimental. We tried it, it worked. Within 24 hours we weren't talking about her dying anymore, she was breathing on her own off of all medications in a month. It was a few more months before she went home because she wouldn't eat and was fragile, but did amazingly well. Yesterday at 17 months of age, she walked up to me and gave me a hug, while looking to her dad for support. She is beautiful. She has a life to look forward to and with some more work a bright future. I started to cry. Her parents started to cry. They hugged me too. Reaffirmation that I like my job and am good at it- DONE

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Confessions of a Chronic Overcommitter

I have written a lot recently about the wonderful things that i now get to do and how much happiness they bring me. I have sort of ignored talking about or writing about my work life, which used to so dominate my life. Just last night a good friend said how proud she was of me that I have never let work dominate my conversations or social life. I had to think about it for a few moments, until I ultimately agreed. I have chosen for years to try to leave work where it belongs which is at work where I have spent way too much time anyway. I mean really when you work nearly a hundred hours a week, why on earth would i want to think about or talk about my job when I am not there. Plus, I really don't like talking about my job, or at least the specifics of it with people who don't understand it, even other doctors from different specialties. I am so superspecialized that few understand what I do.

Still none of this is to say that I haven't done some crazy things to try to keep my often antagonistic goals of keeping work and life seprate when both are demanding. Back when I was a fellow, I planned a trip to Greece with my best friend. I carved out 9 days for the trip, when I only had a week vacation, by arranging to do the following insane things. I stayed up all night the night before i left to finish a talk that I was scheduled to give the day after I got back, I met with my boss and mentor 5 hours before getting on the plane to review said talk, and I was scheduled to work in the hospital overnight, responsible for the lives of very small babies, 6 hours after my international flight was scheduled to land, while yes giving this talk the next day on no sleep for days. What on Earth was I thinking, yet I used to do things like that all the time. No wonder I didn't mind slowing my life down. However, on that particular trip, which was Sept 2001, the world changed while I was a way when Sept 11 happened. My flight home got cancelled, there was no way for me to conceivably get back for my call or for the talk the day after. Everyone understood, no one was flying. No one blamed me. Yet somehow I felt guilty. I had to call multiple times to make sure that someone was covering my call. Hello, what the heck was I going to do about it, I was stuck in Greece. Crazy- Really, truly, seriously crazy. I could go on, I have scheduled myself many other an insane journey in order to try to meet the demands of my life and my work. Case in point number 2, when I was interviewing for my post fellowship jobs and flew home to Chicago after a 3 day interview in Phoenix, arriving at midnight. I did my laundry, repacked and reported for work at 8 am the next morning, where I proceeded to work for 26 hours, with nary a moment of sleep before reloading a plane to fly to LA for another interview at the hospital where I work now. The sane approach to that would have been to declare that I couldn't work that weekend and to have flown to LA from Phoenix, an hour flight, and spent the weekend, which was my mom's birthday, with her, but no I didn't do that. Like I said I used to be crazy.

So, why think about this now. I am leaving for vacation in 5 days. I am going to Hawaii with a good friend. I am going to scuba dive, relax, play in the ocean, try to avoid the sun, and just enjoy that almost 11 months after my first surgery I can finally do these things again. This trip has kept me focussed on my rehab, it brought me purpose when things were not so good. I have been looking forward to it for months. I have refused to bring work with me. Yet..... I agreed to write a reveiw chapter, on something that isn't exactly my area of expertise, which is due before I leave. I was initially supposed to write it with someone else, meaning I'd write half of it, but she backed out leaving me to the whole thing with no extension to the deadline. OK, fine. I am almost done, but I have had to work on it all weekend, and it is provoking anxiety in me. I so wanted to get ready for this trip leisurely and enjoy my new outlook on things. But no, because once I finish this paper, I have another project which also must be completed before i depart becasue i have stupidly agreed to represent my hospital at some national meeting, which will require me to turn around and fly to Nashville 36 hours after I return for my vacation. Yikes, don't I learn.

Nonetheless, i will be on a plane to Hawaii in 5 days, so what if I have to work some today. I will hopefully get everything done. Oh goodness, wish me luck.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Life Is Good

This labor day weekend was HOT, SERIOUSLY HOT in Southern California. For the first time in over a year my air conditioner ran all day and it just couldn't keep up with the heat. I was melting away when I decided that there was no cure for this kind of heat to be found in the valleys of LA at sea level. Fortunately for me I had been invited by my friend Kim to go sailing on Saturday. So off I went to really the only place to be on Saturday, the ocean. We sailed with a group of 8, some good friends some people I met that day, but everyone got along great and after a lot of coffee, a couple of mimosas and various forms of unhealthy food we were on the high seas comfortably cool and fast friends.

We were then greated by a pod of dolphins who decided that the House of Prince's sailing vessel was an excellent thing to play with. They frolicked in the water, jumping around us, swimming under the boat, spurting water in the air for what seemed like a long time. Captain Stew sailed the vessel expertly so that we could stay with them. A fellow blogger and passenger on the ship LA Daddy, took lots of pictrues which are great, but even they didn't show the wonder of being surrounded by these playful dolphins.

Then as if that wasn't enough fun, we still got to spend the rest of the day hanging out on board ship, and basking in the sun and not melting away. An aside here, I am supposed to keep myself and especially LEfty out of the sun for 3 years after radiation, but I live in LA and I don't like to stay indoors. SO, I have researched sunscreen, bought large quantities of the supposedly top rated sunscreen which i put on my scars every morning before my coffee- and i don't do anything before my coffee. I have tried to stay in the shade etc, but I am white, literally the definition of white- quick to burn, not very effective at getting a tan etc. All of my care at staying out of the sun has left with almost no base and although I wore a hat all day and put on a long sleeve shirt after lunch, my little white skin was no match for a day in the sun. Thus, my first sunburn of the summer and alas it was already Labor Day. However, we won't let that detract fromt he fact that it was a great day.

Then as if that wasn't enough fun, it was still 2000 degrees in the shade on Sunday, so I escaped to the mountains where thunder showers were nicely keeping it cool and I could persue my favorite mountain activities- long walks, kayaking, sitting on the dock (under the shade) reading a good book, etc. LIke I said this weekend Life is Good.

Sadly I had to returned to reality today. Reality stinks.