Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I can now be found at my new blog Call Me Dr. Lisa .
Thanks for taking this journey with me. I may come back....
Friday, August 21, 2009
Fortunately, for me I had scheduled to get a Brazilian Blow Dry yesterday since I could finally keep my hair dry for the requisite post period, since I am no longer training. So yesterday I sat in my stylist's chair while she put stuff in my hair that smelled like strawberries and then flat ironed it all into my hair for what seemed like hours. The end result, long straight hair now flows from my head.
This morning my pillow smelled like fermented strawberries, but other than that, two seconds with a brush and my hair was perfect. Then I came to work and have had to “endure” people telling me how awesome I look all day. It is rough being beautiful.
Thanks for the ego boost everyone. I can always use it.
Monday, August 17, 2009
I put on my goggles and told myself that this was just a warm up. An easy 500 yd swim, no big deal. They called out our group, I ran over the timing pad, into the water, started swimming. The water was so murky I couldn't even see my arms in the water, people were swimming all over me, running into each other etc. Then about 100 yds into it, I was in less crowded water, and then I realized I was way off course, I redirected. Turning the first corner, I finally felt like I was hitting my stride and then I took a breath on my left and the lifeguards were alongside me pointing to the right. I was in the middle of the dam, woops! They guided me back to the course and I had to keep checking to make sure I stayed on course. All said and done I probably swam an extra 100-150 yards. Once I found my way to the exit ramp I happily put my feet down and started to run up the ramp and over the timer mat. Thankful the swim was over. Swim time- 13:44 (disappointing)
Friday, August 14, 2009
This Sunday I will do my first triathlon, The Hansen Dam Triathlon. Something I NEVER thought I’d do. Triathlons always seemed to me the pinnacle of obsessive exercise behavior. Especially the Iron Man (which I still think is crazy), but my journey of the last two years has brought me to the point of embarking on this my first “sprint triathlon.”
How did I get here? Two years ago, I finished my radiation treatment for cancer of the ankle. It would be another month before I’d walk again. That left me having spent 8 months in various stages of immobility- crutches, cane, hospitalized on complete bed rest, wheelchair, crutches, cane, crutches non-weight bearing again. During all of this time, I learned many things about myself and had endless amounts of time to think about my life. Shortly after getting my diagnosis, I was told that amputation would likely be the only way to avoid a recurrence of my cancer, and after going through all of my surgeries and treatments, I still face the reality that IF I have a local recurrence (ie. if the sarcoma comes back in my ankle) given how much of my ankle has already been removed, amputation still might be the only option. This is my reality. I don’t think about it often, but there it is. Through out my whole ordeal, I questioned what was the purpose of these trials? Would there be one, and what would I miss the most? I fought against my dependence on others, but I also learned to ask for help.
I realized that many of the things I feared losing, I had lost by letting myself get out of shape through years of my own medical training and not prioritizing my own health. I vowed to change that as soon as I was allowed to exercise again. Once I was given the green light, I was doing physical therapy twice a week, I joined a gym (largely to be able to swim), shortly thereafter I started working out with a personal trainer. Over the months and months that followed I got back to where I was before the first surgery, but suddenly that wasn’t good enough. I committed to being as healthy as possible. I kept weight lifting. I was up to swimming 1500-2000 yards at a go, and I started swimming butterfly again. I decided to start running. I prioritized my own health and fitness.
Now two years after completing my treatment I am in better shape than I have been since high school (if not ever), healthy eating and exercising are staples in my life. My outlook has never been better. A few months ago, friends started asking me with the fact that I am a swimmer, and now I ran 2-4 miles a few days a week when would I do triathlon. My response the first several times was an emphatic never. However, it got me thinking, why not? With a commitment to training, I could totally do it. This athletic event that always seemed miles out of my reach, suddenly sounded possible. My scarred, weakened ankle and I started training. I was hooked, I committed to doing the triathlon with a friend. I’ve now been training for 5 months, and I am sure I’ll be able to finish, but I am hoping to make a specific time. That old competitive spirit is alive in me.
I am doing this triathlon as a testament to my recovery, as thanks to the people who helped me get through my journey, as an outward sign of making my health a priority in my life.
Thanks to all of you for supporting me along this journey!
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Stink- I almost forgot to thank the Blogger Prom Committee- mea culpa- They did an amazing job!
2009 Blogger Prom Committee
Caroline of Caroline on Crack
Esther of e*starLA
H.C. of LA and OC Foodventures
Lindsay of LAist
Marni of Happy Go Marni
Maya of Shop Eat Sleep
Natalie of The Liquid Muse
Tara of When Tara Met Blog
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
When you were younger, you built a house of your own design with your own hands for your family. In later years, I watched in awe as you rebuilt the kitchen, and I questioned how you knew how to do it. You answered all of my numerous questions, you always did. When I was a small child, you built us a go-cart out of plywood and pushed my brother and I around the back patio until we, not you, tired. You used to let us sit on your back while you swam countless laps in the pool. You taught me advanced algebra when I was in junior high school. You were my young, healthy grandparent. You seemed invincible to me.
In more recent years, you showed me an article on the 50 worldwide destinations an avid traveler should go to. You had been to 36 of them. You told me stories of each. You recounted the numerous books you had read and why you enjoyed them. A few months ago, we sat around your most recent large jigsaw puzzle and you told me about going to the Chicago World Fair on your way out to Annapolis to start at the Naval Academy. You told me about dropping out of the Naval Academy to marry the love of your life. You’ve told me other stories too. You have lived a long and adventurous life.
Yesterday I visited you in a hospital room, you can barely move, you can’t speak, but you held my hand. You opened your once beautiful, clear blue eyes that are now cloudy and unfocused. You didn’t see me, but I saw you. You probably don’t know what has happened to you. You who have always been so proud and strong willed, lie in a hospital bed. My heart aches to see you like this. I know you hate it too.
To me you will always be the Johnny of my childhood. I love you!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I voluntarily went to a children’s museum last week. There is either something wrong with me, or I have a reason. Trust me, I have a reason!
My godson is 4 years old. I want him to know that we have a special relationship that I am one of the few adults outside of his family that he can count on. So, last year I decided that for his birthday he needs nothing material, but I want him to have childhood memories of our relationship. So, I started a tradition of taking him somewhere special for his birthday. His mom suggested the Noah’s Arc exhibit at the Skirball museum. It was a huge success.
So, this year, I stuck with the same plan and offered to take him on another day trip this year to Kidspace. I picked him up from daycare. He introduced me to his friends as his Auntie Lisa. I smiled. He had his happy face on the whole way to Kidspace. We took pictures when we arrived.
He discovered a model of the solar system
He climbed an ant hill
He made music using water guns on drums
He rode around the trail of trikes
Then we went to my parents house to get my dog, and we played bingo- he lost he didn’t care
I spent the day with my godson. It was priceless.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
I did a pediatric residency, because I wanted to be a neonatologist. I am unusual like that. I didn't much like general peds, but it was a necessary step. Anyway, as I knew what I wanted to do, I wasn't too scared when I got my schedule and saw that I would start in the NICU. My two colleagues were petrified. I was excited. Even more so because I'd be on call that very first night as an intern. We got oriented, we did our work. We had almost no idea how to do anything, but our chief resident and fellow were very helpful and supportive. We all got through the day, my new friends left, and I stayed behind to take my first call. A very brief time later, I attended my first ever delivery of a 25 week, 500 something gram baby. My fellow did most of the work, but she taught me what needed to be done and how to do several new (to me) procedures that night. That little boy became my patient, my teacher. He taught me so many of the fundamentals that I still use today. I followed him all month and then when he was ready to go home, I became his general pediatrician. He actually made it through his course of being a 25 weeker without any signfiicant complications and by the time, I left residency he was 3 and doing remarkably well. He was the last patient I ever saw in a general pediatric clinic. I still get letters from his mom every so often. I will think of him celebrating his 12th birthday this week. I hope he is well.
This morning watching the new interns at breakfast, I was reminded of that long ago night, and that little boy. I was also reminded of who I was all those years ago. I hope that I haven't totally lost the amazement that I felt in caring for this little tiny baby. Certainly, I know what I'm doing now, and I have been to hundreds of deliveries like his, but he is special to me still. Also, I hope that I will never lose the drive that brought me into this career and that makes it more than just a job.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Who me, I didn't do anything.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Reading, don't visit if you have fevers, aches, chills, cough etc. Further, as staff of the hospital we have gotten multiple emails saying that if you have any of the above symptoms, you are to go to employee health and get swabbed to see if you have swine flu before you can work. The staying away from work if you have a cough, cold, chills etc., I get. The idea that we are to get screened and if it isn't swine flu you can work. That I don't get. But alas, baby steps right. baby steps.
I have made it clear that I find all of this swine flu hysteria a litte rediculous, but there may be some good messages coming out of it. I work at a Children's Hospital taking care of critically ill babies. Viruses that cause the common cold in adults and healthy, older children can be deadly to my patients. It seems like almost every year, we have some parent visit their child with a runny nose and wind up spreading their virus to their child and others. These same viruses that can cause severe respiratory issues and can be deadly to former preterm babies, babies with congenital heart disease, etc. and not even to mention all of the patients in this hospital getting chemotherapy. There are a hundred reasons to screen visitors before allowing them to come into the hospital and if swine flu is what has finally gotten this done. I'm OK with that. I just hope that people will continue to be vigilant when this hysteria has passed and realize how much broader the threat is to medically fragile babies and children.
Please think about these things before visiting the medically fragile, whether in the hospital or not. Thanks
Monday, May 18, 2009
When I am at work overnight, there is only one of me, and I am in charge. Yes, I have my team, residents, nurse practitioners (during the day), fellows (sometimes) etc., but only one of me and ultimately everything that happens in my unit on my watch is my responsibility. That is the nature of the job. If I have done the teaching portion of my job well, than my team can handle 90% of what happens and so I hang in my office doing whatever it is that I do. However, we aren't allowed to leave, just in case. Invariably if I have a slow day and spend two hours getting work done in my office and then go to get food,or go to the restroom, or go outside- I'll get paged- invariably. Leading to my comment that we are really denied our civil liberties. There is no freedom for those hours, none.
Don't take this to mean I don't like my job, I do. I know that I am good at what I do. Take my recent 24 hour Saturday call, one of my friends on twitter made fun of me for not working too hard since I was tweeting. My response was "no one wants to know the truth of what I do." I believe that and trust me THAT wasn't a fun day, but I know that I left the babies better off than when I got there even the one who died peacefully in his parents arms. I know this, but still sometimes, it would be nice to be able to have a few moments to relax, at least to not be responsible while in the restroom. I'm just saying. So yes, it does feel like I'm incarcerated, held at the mercy of my little charges illnesses for the sentence imposed on me (tonight, only 14 hours). I hope that I do right by them. That is my overarching wish in my job to do right by the babies.
I started this post as a comment in response to a post that my friend from college wrote after reading the LA Times this morning, but it got long so I decided to put it here. Of course, Kim is much more eloquent than I will ever be, but this is how I see the swirling controversy surrounding our President giving the commencement address at my alma mater.
I consider myself extremely lucky to be a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, a school often labeled as one of the nation's premiere catholic institutions. A label it justly deserves as the very air of Notre Dame is infused with a spirtuality that is palpable. Some of the memories that I hold dear from my college years are the walks around the lakes, the visits to the grotto, dorm masses, walking across the parking lot at sunset hearing the band practice the alma mater, long nights hanging with my friends. The school makes no amends and offers no pretense of being anything other than a catholic institution, but it is also an institution of higher education and a welcoming place. People aren't turned away because they aren't catholic, differences of opinions are inevitably voiced and debated as occurs at any university. Albeit with a larger voice to more traditional. conservative values.
Barack Obama was invited to give the commencement address at this most conservative catholic university and he accepted. A dubious selection by the university, maybe. A PR opportunity for the president, maybe. People have protested this choice because he is pro choice, pro stem cell research. However, as ND's president Rev. Jenkins was quoted as saying "Others might have avoided this venue for that reason (knowing of the inevitable protests), but President Obama is not someone who stops talking with those who differ from him." For if you do not discuss things with those who see things differently than you than how can you ever reach compromise. Obama said in his speach "When we open up our hearts and minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground." He also contended that the two sides of the abortion debate may have "irreconcilable differences", but they can also find a common ground in working to increase accessibility to adoption and in decreasing the rate of unintended pregnancies.
As an institution of higher education if Notre Dame was to shield its students from the political debates of our time because they disagree with the church than in my opinion the university wouldn't be doing its job to educate future members of society. If the clout of the university is such that the President will speak to its graduates as they head off into uncertain times, then I applaud them. Learning to find common ground in life, in jobs, in careers is essential. I am proud that Obama spoke at Notre Dame and that at least the majority of the university community welcomed him.
... just to clarify, no this doesn't mean I agree with all of Obamas politics
Saturday, May 9, 2009
As I’ve said before, Sheryl Crow is one of my favorites. I love her new album. “Soak up the Sun” definately is near the top of my list. I’ve always loved the beat, it makes me run faster, it will keep me on the elliptical. I’ve heard that song enough that I should and do know the lyrics by heart. So, it surprised me the other day, when it came on while I was driving and all of a sudden a single line hit me. “It’s not having what you want, but wanting what you’ve got.” I played it again, and a light bulb burst on over my head. That is the point. This song would be my new mantra. It’s not easy, it is human nature to want to keep up with the Jones’s as it were, but when I really look at things I am inordinately blessed. The funk didn’t get banished immediately, but ultimately it got pushed out of my conscious thought. The motto, not easy, but a work in progress it is. So, I’m off to “Soak up the Sun,” thanks Sheryl.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Ok, I can deal with all of this. I'll listen to my body. I'll be careful, I promise. I worked too hard to keep my ankle and to get in shape to let anything derail that.
Monday, May 4, 2009
So, when I arrived at the Amtrak station to get on my train to New York for my biannual check up and saw there was a quiet room, I made a beeline. The trip from Baltimore to NYC aboard the express train took slightly less than three hours. For three hours, I sat in blissful silence broken only by the conductor announcing the next city. I napped, I read, I wrote, I stared out the window. Ah, such bliss before the sensory assault that is New York City.
Friday, May 1, 2009
The first one was totally my fault. I was in Nicaragua and misread the departure time of my connecting flight as the departure from Managua (this after I’d checked my luggage mind you). When I returned to the airport two hours late for my flight, I learned of my mistake. I made it home 24 hours and fair chunk of change later without my bags in the same clothes I’d worn for 48 hours. I ultimately got my bags back a month and a half later. Not one of my best maneuvers ever, clearly.
The second, I was flying to DC for my cousins wedding. I left my house two hours before the flight, but hit traffic, and delays getting the shuttle from the parking lot found me in line to check in and check my bag 42 minutes before the flight. The two people in front of me were on the same flight, they checked in- then the flight attendant lady said- nope you missed the “40 minute window.” But, but… I stammered, no luck. She rerouted me to a later non-direct flight, I made it through security before they even began boarding my original flight. I tried to sweet talk my way onto that flight, but nope. Defeated, I accepted my fate.
Then there is the flight I tried to get on 24 hours early, but THAT story’s already been told.
So, this morning… I found myself once again heading to DC on a direct flight. (I believe this might be the first time since that last ill-fated journey.) I was ready to leave my house two hours before my flight. My car was loaded, I’d eaten first breakfast, left my dog crying on the stairwell when I realized, I’d forgotten my sweater. I ran upstairs to the chair said sweater had rested on yesterday, but my ever efficient cleaning lady had moved it. Oops, I ran around the house for 10 minutes looking for the stupid sweater, never found, pulled down a replacement. OK, 10 minutes late, but I should still be fine. Checked sigalert.com, bad traffic on the freeway I was headed towards, I took a detour- Bad Idea. Worse traffic there. Oh well, I was still OK. More traffic on the freeway, now I’m beginning to panic. Arrive at the parking garage, 45 minutes before my flight, need to wait for shuttle. Woops, I try to get on line on my phone and check in, but nope- you can’t check in from the internet within 1 hour of your flight. This is looking bad. OK, I don’t have to check my luggage, I’m fine, right? Shuttle guy finally pulls up several minutes later. I arrive at the electronic check-in thingy with 29 minutes to go to departure time. No dice, I can’t check- in. URGG.. Long day at the airport ensues. Cancel plans with my family for tonight, flight rescheduled. I prepare to become passive and just go with it, while internally screaming at myself.
Morals to the story-
1- check-in to your flight from home before you leave it so you don’t have to deal with arbitrary time cut offs
2- If you can’t find your sweater, chose a different one immediately, or just buy one at the airport, anything
3- Or better yet, put stupid sweater away where you know where it is before it is mysteriously moved by said cleaning lady.
4- Maybe for a 9am flight from LAX leaving your house at 7am is really just too late. Maybe
Monday, April 20, 2009
When I first moved into my house, I immediately tore out all of the iceplant on the hillside in front of my house, and replanted it in a Tuscan/ Califonia themed, water conscious garden. I chose every plant myself for its shape, color, smell etc. It occupied me for months. I spent special attention choosing the rosebushes that line my stairs. The one that is on the landing was the hardest. It took me forever to find it, but when I finally did, it was chosen for not only the color of the flowers, but the smell of the roses. (Yep, I can get obsessed that way.) As I walk down those stairs everyday, before my first cup of coffee, I stop and smell the roses and I smile. It is a simple act, but it connects me. It grounds me in a fundamental way.
The best smelling roses ever.
The other roses along the stairwell.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Saturday, April 4, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Let the insanity begin. God knows where this one could lead.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
As a physician I have worked to become aware of the ambiguity of language and have trained myself to speak as precisely as possible. I work towards perfecting the skills of delivering bad news with compassion but strength, but still there are times when I know that the words that are about to come out of my mouth are going to change a family's life forever and cause them nightmares and inordinate suffering. Yesterday was such a day. I fight my own personality which is to spread cheer and not cause pain by trying to not say such things, but sometimes you must, and I firmly believe that it is worse to withhold the information. However, the aftereffects of delivering such news are rough to bear witness to. I only hope that we (my coworkers and team) can also use our language spoken and unspoken to support too.
Friday, February 27, 2009
That being said the Rockies are beautiful. I spent the weekend in Denver, truly working then 4 of us rented a car and drove up to Keystone in the midst of a major snow storm that dropped at least a foot of fresh powder on the hill. On Tuesday morning the sun was out, fresh powder was all around and as soon as I could escape the meeting, I suited up and hit the slopes. I demo'd an amazing pair of skis. Volkl's made for women. They were so great to ski on, too bad I could never afford to buy them. The conditions rocked and Wednesday was even better. On wednesday, I skied by myself and kicked my tail as I spent about 6 hours with nary a break charging down the slopes. Lefty held up although she was seriously sore after Wednesday. The mountains awesome. Sometimes I love my job.
A little of the Colorado Rockies
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This was her summary:
"In summation, Lisa’s illness narrative is an amazing one, and one that I wish I could tell more of. Her illness experience spans the range of human emotions, triumphs and defeats. Lisa shared her humanity, her strength and her fortitude to take on a frightening, painful and long illness and turn it into a life learning experience. She used her illness to emerge a stronger, more compassionate, more health conscious individual. She used her illness experience to emerge a more understanding physician of the demands that illness places on effected patients and their families. She has used her illness experience to grow in cherishing her family and friendships. She seems to have genuinely learned the value of herself, her self-worth and really used the experience to better herself and enrich her life. Her story is compelling and one that serves to only inspire anyone who has the fortune of hearing it. "
Aw, shucks, who knew I was inspiring- thanks BB
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Then there is my other collection that is not so visible, but apparent to most people who know me and was brought to my attention when I sent a simple email today. I was explaining to a friend that I had to change my plans for Friday because I had to go pick up my friend Lisa's car. I got back a two work email "Which Lisa." Valid question, you see, I collect friends who share my first name. How this started I'll never know, but by now it is rediculous. In college, I lived with two other girls named Lisa, they are still two of my closest friends. When I went to school in Boston, I immediately became friends with a Lisa. In residency, one of my closest friends- you guessed it Lisa (but then I had two other really good friends both named Kathy). Then I moved to Chicago and my lab had 5 women in it and 3 of us were name Lisa. Those two Lisa's are still friends, and one of them is another of my dearest friends and the person in question whose car I have to drive to Long Beach in the rain tomorrow to get. Does it say something about me that I have so many friends with my same name? Or does it just mean that Lisa was a seriously popular name round about the late 60s early 70s? and it wasn't a local phenomenon. No two of these assorted women were born in the same state as another (except two who are from Phili), and one was born abroad. Nope just random that I count upwards of 10 Lisas as friends. No idea if this says something about me, but it is curious.
Nonetheless I love my Lisa's. They rock
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I forgot my camera, so these were taken with my phone. They at least give an idea.
Leslie and Sandy in our box
The horses racing to a photo finish on the turf
Horses being lead out to race
Oh and if you go to the races, and are hungry- my advice, skip the regular concessions and go for the hand carved sandwiches. I had turkey on sourdough. I couldn't quite eat the bread, but the turkey was awesome. My friend got roast beef on rye which looked super good too.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Alas, for now- project out with the old, in with new- will be organization and moving to a different closet I think.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Now I know that overpaying taxes and then getting refunds is giving the government an interest free loan, and I know it isn't smart. However, the couple of years i had to pay taxes were really rough and every year I have a couple of really big bills that always come in around the time that I get my tax refund and the beginning of the year is always a little tighter financially for me, so getting a nice check from the government has been working for me. But... If they are going to start not honoring what they owe then this policy needs some serious rethinking. I had a long chat with my dad, my ever present financial advisor and he gave me some good advice. I'm going to do some homework and see what I can make work. In the meantime I curse those elected state officials for throwing my money away and not honoring their debt. Curse you
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Then, this morning when I turned on my computer, the yahoo headline was the bitter cold and severe snow storms blanketing the majority of the country highlighted by the cold in the northern midwest- -40 in MInnesota. Ouch... But today in LA, the sky is clear, and it is in the 70s. I sit out on my porch as I type in shorts and a tee shirt thinking I need more sunscreen on my face. Not so bad- really not so bad.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Sadie frolicked, I ran, it was a lovely way to begin my Sunday. Thanks City of LA