Friday, July 31, 2009


I am a neonatologist, most of you know this. My specialty isn't all about happy endings and everything coming up roses. We deal with critically ill babies, babies so sick or with such rare diseases that they are transferred to us when they cannot be cared for in the community anymore. We have many wonderful success stories. I celebrate those because they keep me going through rough days. However, we also have many sad, sad stories and unfortunately some of the babies who come to us cannot be saved.

In my professional life, I am equally dedicated to saving the babies in my care who have a chance at survival and doing so with the highest level of skill and integrity that I can, as I am dedicated to not inflicting unnecessary suffering when it is clear that there is no possibility of survival. These dual goals of mine are not at all at odds with each other, but they do require extreme clarity and certainty of your knowledge. You must have the facts and when they are unclear fight for life. When the information is there you must be able to tell the family so they can understand and work towards acceptance. If you are not objective, this is not possible. There is a certain separation that must be maintained as the attending physician from your patients so that you can see clearly. This is why as physicians we do not care for family members, or those who are like family. Because try as you might, you cannot be objective. However, this is not in anyway to say that you should be withdrawn. As a neonatal intensivist, my humanity, my care, my concern is my center, my driving force. I must care, so that I can do my job to the best of my ability. As I have said the day that I do not shed a tear when a baby dies will be the day I quit. No questions asked, no second thoughts.

These thoughts have been in my head a lot lately. There are many reasons. Starting with my grandfather's stroke and continuing to what was not a very happy couple of weeks on service. Also, I have been trying to counsel some of my junior colleagues on these issues lately. It is not easy because everyone takes it so personally. I am far from perfect, but I do the best I can. I hope that I can still lead by example, and I hope that I can help my junior colleagues find their center in a place that will allow them to balance their lives and their patients lives.

On the side of the road..

About 10 years ago, I was driving back home to DC from North Carolina in my OLD Toyota Corolla, the car I had had since I was 16. I was in the midst of some long expanse or road in the midst of nowhere southern Virginia... kabam my tire blew out. Going close to 80 miles an hour this can be issue, but I safely got myself over to the side of the road, took a couple of deep breaths and prepared to change my tire. While I was pulling my tire jack and the block of wood I kept in my trunk for just such occassions, I looked up. There was a guy in an SUV and a big rig truck both stopped on the shoulder in front of me and walking towards me. After a few seconds of panic, these two kind gentleman marveled at my preparedness and then offered to change my tire. Then Mr. Big Rig asked how much further I had to go- "to DC (a good 300 more miles)" I replied. "Well, that is too far to go on this tire (my spare that had already been used more than once)." He then called ahead on his radio (this was pre common cell phone usage) to an open service station told them I was a friend and to give me a good rate. He gave me directions and away I went after thanking them profusely. This whole escapade delayed my arrival back to the Nation's Capital by barely two hours.

I neglected to get these kind men's phone numbers or addresses or something to formally thank them. However, I have tried to "Pay It Forward." I have tried.

Today I headed out to Hansen Dam to test ride and run the triathlon course. Half of our group was really late so we left for the bike ride, went the wrong way so then decided to ride with the other the right way in lieu of running in the now almost noon day sun. The ride was great, invigorating even. After about 21 miles total, I was thinking this riding thing is no big deal when... Kabaam. My back tire was flat. About 3 miles from our destination, my tire not holding the air we tried to inflate it with and me lacking a spare, I waited at the side of the road. My friends were to come back to get me. I didn't have my cell phone, I had very little water, it was hot, but I waited patiently in the shade. For 30 minutes I sat on the side of the road in a decidedly non-picturesque, industrial neighborhood. Only 1 person asked if I was OK. No one asked if they could call someone for me. No one asked if I needed anything. Including the two policemen who drove by me. I just waited. I was fine, it was handled but...

I wondered, Are there no more Good Samaritans? Are we so jaded? My friend said it's a good thing, they might have been creeps if they had stopped, true I guess, but...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Safety First

The triathlon that I decided to do in the throws of a break up is now less than 3 weeks away. 

When I started this whole thing- I was running 2-3 days a week about 2 or so miles each time.  The tri is a 3 mile run.  So clearly, I had work to do there.  I now run 4-5 miles 2-3 days week.  A friend called me a runner the other day. I laughed at him.  I still don't consider myself a runner.  I may not be fast, but I think I'll be OK even if running after riding a bike is still kind of crazy. 

 Back at the start of this, I was swimming on average once a week putting in around 2000 yds in the pool and training butterfly.  The tri is a 500 yd open water swim.  I wasn't worried about that.  I have been training and I'm a little faster, so I am confident there.

But the cycling..  I hadn't been on a bike in 9 years. I didn't have a bike that worked.  I was scared of riding a bike with a lot of people around me.  So, clearly- the biking was a problem.  I borrowed a bike from a friend.  It was an awesome road bike with the kind of pedals that require you to clip your shoes into the pedals. I was afraid of those.  So, I bought new pedals and started riding.  Guess what, I really like this cycling thing.  I bought a road bike a few weeks ago, it also has the clip on pedal things.  I looked at shoes, couldn't find my size ordered them online. They have finally arrived.  I tried it out and immediately decided that for this race in 2 1/2 weeks, I am sticking to having my feet mobile.  I'll learn to use those fancy shoes and pedals when I am not in countdown mode.  Safety first, right?
The current state of the biking is that it's getting better, but it is still the hardest part for me.  I only have to go 12 miles, so I think I can do it.  I hope  

2 1/2 more weeks- cheer me on, please!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blogger Prom 09

I suppose, I am a blogger.  I mean I have a blog, right?  Somewhere between 10-30 people visit it a day mostly brought here by interesting search items like "numb foot" or "sleeping through an MRI" or the "the roar of the greasepaint" (BTW- that is the most depressing post I ever wrote).  Anyway, my point being I am far from being in the cool blogger kid club. But then I've rarely been in the cool club for much, so I am OK with that, and this site has served its purpose to be sure.

 Still, when my friend Kim, who IS in the cool blogger club, invited me to go with her to the blogger prom.  I  accepted immediately.  Over the years of going to blogger events with her, I have learned that this is actually a fun, welcoming, interesting crowd.  Therefore, I found myself with a Christmas bow in my big hair in a borrowed dress in West Hollywood last week.  The theme was cheesy prom attire. I borrowed an awesome dress from the Slackmistress and then went kind of Desparately Seeking Susan on it.  Kim ever the one to stand out, actually wore her prom dress from high school (Yes, she still fits into it- she rocks).

Photo by Nina

We had a great time and yes the LA bloggers are an incredibly welcoming group.

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

Why Sadie is banished

A month ago, I banished Sadie from my tri training runs because-
A) It is getting hot and she has black fur
B) She has very short legs
C) She likes to sniff the concrete every so often, which throws me off
D) I can now run further and faster than I used to and she now can't keep up. (see B)
E) All of the above

Well, last night she looked so pathetic by the time I finally set out for my run that I gave in and brought her with me.  It was late enough that it wasn't so hot, and she was happy to not be banished that she behaved up until she almost tripped someone with her leash when she ran on the other side of a poor unsuspecting woman who walked into the middle of her leash.  (OK, maybe that is my fault)  I apologized profusely, no harm done, but I think that Sadie will have to stay banished from my long (for me) runs and certainly until after the tri. Sorry Sadie, it is for everyones safety.

Tri countdown- 26 days! EGADS

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I know you hate this!

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

Why I went to Kidspace

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

I thought i was doing well

I went swimming this afternoon after hiking this morning.  I am brimming with energy now and so happy to have been active all day and had an awesome lunch with my hiking buddy in between.  Plus, it has been one of those days that has made me take pause and give thanks for my life and where I am physically and emotionally now. Here's why.

Whenever I go swimming I choose my lane carefully.  Trying to avoid the old people who don't swim in straight lines and the young kids who are playing.  When I got to the pool, there was one lane with a guy swimming beautiful clean, easy strokes, at a good clip.  My kind of lane partner.  I joined him and we pushed each other to keep our pace up. He took breaks, I did speed training, he did a long swim, with the styrofoam training thing between his legs (ie. not kicking), and then he got out of the pool.  I was taking a break and noticed him getting out because he carefully raised his body out of the water. He swung his legs over, passively.  Then he hoisted himself into a wheelchair, while saying to me "Nice Swim, see you soon."  "Yeah, you too," I replied, "take care."  I noticed it, I took pause.  I hated being in a wheelchair. I feel so much sympathy when I see someone in them now.  Especially, someone so young and vital and strong.  

 I feel like I have made such great strides in the two years since I was allowed to start walking again, but this guy.  I know nothing of his story. I have no idea how long this has been his lot. I don't even know his name, but he made an impression on me. I hope he is well.  I hope this is temporary and that his happy face isn't just a mask.  I hope I see him swimming again.  

Good Luck, Mr. Swimming Man.  Thanks for making me appreciate things.