Showing posts with label friendship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friendship. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Devil You Know - A Book Review

I get really annoyed by those people who declare, "I only read non-fiction." And it's ok, if that's you, but don't say it snootily at a party when someone asks you if you've ever read this great fiction book. That's left me speechless and a bit shameful on more than one occasion - the person acts like fiction is non-fiction's red-headed bastard stepchild. And really, if I could go back in time - let's do that right now - I'd tell that person off. Fiction, I'll argue, is way more difficult to pull of than non-fiction. And I'll be damned if you can draw a straight line between the two. Fiction authors often weave autobiography into their own work, but instead of just spitting out what already happened they birth a new child. And that's pretty impressive, in my opinion.

I met Fizzy on Mothers in Medicine years ago when I first started. We became e-mail friends, she supported me through my divorce, I learned a little about her life. She is a very private person. I've met her for dinner once and I still don't know her last name. I respect that, and it comes with mystery and intrigue. We don't e-mail as regularly as we used to, but when she asked for me to read her new book a few months back and let her know what I think I felt like I had received an e-mail from Madonna (that's a nod to the book, by the way). I read it in one afternoon. Well, it bled into the evening a bit.

I read the first book, The Devil Wears Scrubs, years ago. I loved it, and talked about that here. What I loved about that book was how it captured the angst of medical school and training. What I love about this more is it captures the angst of mothering and working as an attending. It is a stand alone book - you don't have to have read the first one, but it was fun for me to reminisce about old characters as they were brought up again throughout the book.

Warning: This book will make you laugh out loud. A lot. Fizzy has always had a great sense of humor and in The Devil You Know she doles it out constantly. There was this one part about glitter - I almost put in a quote but I don't want to ruin it for you - where I was laughing so hard I had to put the book down. She perfectly combines the mayhem of being a doctor and a mother and a spouse - and doing it very imperfectly perfect. If you are taking yourself too seriously this is the book to pick up. I read it again to make this review better and it was a bunch of fun the second time around. One of the best things about it for me was I got a great big glimpse into my very private friend's - one whose blog - A Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor - I've followed for years - life. No one can write a book like this without experience.

I could go on and on about the hilarious patient interactions and bumbling cast of characters at the VA (one of my favorite places on Earth where I trained) but Fizzy herself would stop me - I tend to get long-winded. JUST GO GET THIS BOOK ALREADY: HERE. You won't regret it!!

Side note to Fizzy - who ribbed me years back for never having read a book on a Kindle etc. - I have now read one book on my computer and phone exactly twice - yours.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Last month I did a dermatopathology rotation, a really interesting subspecialty of pathology (and dermatology!). For both the pathology and dermatology residents who rotate on the service, it is probably the most laid-back and responsibility-light rotation we have... I felt like I finally had time and space to breathe after a few tough months.

My second week on service, I noticed a familiar face around the multi-headed microscope- a mom from day care, a dermatology resident! Our daughter (who just turned 2 last week, sniff sniff!!) goes to a day care our hospital owns, so all the parents are hospital employees- physicians, post-docs, etc. I am constantly lamenting to my husband how unfortunate it is that the parents don't know each other well because, understandably, all the doctors are rushing in and out during drop-off and pick-up... also, when kids are screaming and crying, it doesn't exactly feel like the right time to have a little chit chat! Her daughter is 3 months older than ours, and had been in the same infant and toddler classroom as ours...  I had seen her in passing maybe only once or twice but with only a smile and, "Hi."

We beamed at each other and waved, and as soon as sign-out was over we started chatting. I simply felt like the floodgates had opened, haha... I had found a kindred mommy-doctor-wife-woman spirit, and a burden over my heart had been lifted. Our similarities were uncanny, from getting married in a courthouse on their anniversary date (ours at 6 years, theirs at 4 years), to both of us nagging our husbands to stop smoking their incessant cigarette or two a day during times of stress. Finally, another psycho who is reluctant to get a babysitter (us only once, them just twice) because they genuinely want to just hang out together as a family, but also hates themselves for it haha. We also have in common crazy moms, resulting in chronic husband vs. in-law issues. Both of our husbands are equally ambitious and passionate. We are both in day care without extra help, and we talked about how we deal with weeknight routine chaos, fitting in studying, etc etc.

Over that week we overlapped on service, we talked. And talked. And talked. I don't know how long it's been since I've connected with someone like her. Unfortunately, she and her family are moving an hour away so that she can start a position as an attending. I hope we will make plans to see each other and get the girls together. But it reminded me of the power of female friendship, of something I didn't realize had been so sorely missed.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Flowers for KC

Our fearless leader KC organized a meet up - first IRL (in real life) for MiM's in DC this past weekend. I can't remember the birth date of the blog because I wasn't here but I've been around for a few years.

It was small - we are a busy group so many couldn't make it but I got to meet T, Mommabee, Juliaink, m, and KC.

KC sandwiched us between two conferences - one in New Hampshire on education and another in Chicago on blogging. She coached soccer Saturday morning for her son then met us at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It's her I want to write about here.

Although I hadn't yet met KC in person, she is an incredibly supportive ringleader for our unruly bunch. If I e-mail her a question at midnight I have an answer waiting on my phone at 6 am. She has guided me in the perils of people trying to pull you in to advertising a seemingly worthy cause just to promote a marketable item. She has listened to e-mail rants I would like to make online about working situations or frustrations, knowing that it would be inappropriate because they were too fresh in my head. It's better to turn that anger into thoughtful pieces once the mood has passed. And she probably does that and more for all the other MiM's here - that's a big responsibility.  She protects us like a guardian angel - she saw too many negative comments a few years back and made the commenting process less anonymous, not only for the writers and guest posters but to keep the community supportive and the commenters accountable.  When I write on MiM I'm writing to an audience, but I also feel like I am writing to KC since she invited me here in the first place.

Mentors are people that you encounter in your life that create a space for you to grow and flourish and learn. I've been lucky to have many, and I definitely count KC as one of them. I had seen her picture in our Big Tent discussion group, but I wasn't prepared for her huge presence. I say huge, but she is a petite beautiful woman whose Chinese roots are evident in her features; dark hair, tea-colored skin. She has a bright smile that made me feel instantly welcome in DC, a city I was becoming acquainted with for the first time. Her fashion sense is impeccable. I learned she grew up in a New Jersey town not far from where my boyfriend, who accompanied me on the trip, attended high school.

My emotions surrounding the weekend were enormous - I imagined breaking down upon meeting her but it was just like meeting the popular girl in high school you were so intimidated by but she turned out to be a really cool person. Her accolades, at a year younger than myself, are astounding. Woman Physician of the Year for creating this space. Three amazing children - I delighted in conversing with her older son about animals and following her daughter through a museum crawl space that took us to a display about common insects we reside with in our homes. Mommabee instantly charmed the youngest boy; if she was here in Arkansas I'd recommend her as a pediatrician in a heartbeat. KC's supportive husband whom she met in medical school was entirely focused on the children and not at all interested in being the center of attention at our meet up at the museum.

Dinner with KC and m Saturday night was incredible - we chatted about posts and long time followers whose comments we loved and future directions and personal goals. KC seemed to take the back stage - she did all weekend - I convinced myself it was by design to let us shine. When drawn out in conversation her words were sparse but invaluable. More substance than fluff. M asked her, "What is your favorite outcome of starting the blog?" Her answer was immediate. "The readers. Whether encountering them face to face, or through e-mail. When they tell me how much it means to them to have found it. How it helped them." It was almost 11 pm when I met my boyfriend at the Metro to head back to our hotel.

I reflected on some of KC's words at dinner on the Metro. "I am invested in creating a space for our contributors and guest posters to write about what they want, when they want to say it. I don't want to control the content, I want to support creativity. A space for people to just be themselves." I must admit, I've been angry at KC. Misplaced anger, derived from guilt over not writing for months when I have had trouble writing. Anger that she didn't hold me to my pledge to post once a month. Then intense gratitude when she welcomed me back into the fold when I was ready to write again.

After some fun spa time on Sunday morning I learned a little more about KC. She has blogged in the past about her husband's year long deployment to Afghanistan when her youngest was two weeks old and her older two were toddlers, but I learned more about the challenges and fears surrounding that time. Another mentor-worthy feat - the insurmountable becomes existence and manageable day to day. Because if you look at it from a distance, how could you handle it? I asked her, "So is it done? Is he home for good?" She replied, "No, he could be called out any time."

When T showed up for brunch Sunday morning with us, she was full of regret. "I wanted to stop by a florist. But it was closed. I wanted to bring you flowers in appreciation for all you've done for us." T lives close to KC - they have published many articles about social media and medicine together since they have met. Juliaink was a pleasure to meet - I got to tell her in person how much I loved a poem she wrote years ago. I couldn't help thinking during the brunch, what a perfect idea for a gift for KC. A flower. A mirror image of her - something that packs a powerful punch with its image and color and strength, all the time belying a fragility that lies within it - within us all.

She is more than a flower, though - she is the gardener here. She planted the seeds. She waters us and helps us grow and find our own voices and learn from all the amazing voices in this community. I have had many mentors in my life, fabulous in their different ways, but none shares the quiet but unyielding support of KC. Now that I've met her maybe I can get her off of this pedestal and be her friend.

Happy birthday KC. You deserve much appreciation. My emotion didn't come out in waterworks this weekend, but hopefully it can be conveyed in this post. You are an inspiration.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Brain Candy

I met Fizzy here years ago, and long ago posted one of her first cartoons on my blog when she spun off this blog to create her own space at The Cartoon Guide to Becoming a Doctor.

I was amazed by this cartoon. It spoke to me about my experience as a resident/mom in such a good way. She made light of the angst and agony that I had recently been through, and made me laugh about it. I was already hooked to her writing here on MiM, but that cartoon drew me in to her blog and made me an avid follower to this day.

She's funny. She's droll. But most of all, she's unrelenting. I have periods in my blogging where I lag and shut down. She never stops. She's like the Energizer bunny of blogging, and her constant wit and presence amaze me. Not just me - she has built up an enormous following of readers that also recognize her talent. I like to secretly pat myself on the back for being one of her first readers. It doesn't surprise me in the least that she has come this far.

I bought her first book (see above) and it sat on my coffee table until I caught my daughter reading it and asking me questions I wasn't ready to explain. Now it's tucked away in the reading cabinet for easy access. And I had the privilege to beta read her first novel - The Devil Wears Scrubs. Do you read brain candy? I do. I don't watch brain candy on TV, but I read it religiously during stressful times in my life. Chic lit - it takes the edge off. The Devil Wears Scrubs is the best kind of chic lit. It draws you back into that horribly abusive space in time of training when you have no control and you are at the mercy of warped personalities. It allows you as a reader, like the viewer of her cartoons, to make lemonade out of lemons. Her razor sharp wit and her sarcasm brings a new element to the genre. She's a pioneer.

If you haven't read her book, you're missing out big time. I hear there's more coming down the pipes. I remember standing in line for hours waiting to see Guns N' Roses at the Memphis Pyramid (I had to pee really bad - good training for OR cases). I remember camping out all night in front of BeenAround Records to get my college boyfriend Metallica tickets (his band not mine). I remember pre-ordering the next Harry Potter book during residency and counting the days until it was released. Here I am again at 40 dying to read Fizzy's next book. I hope there's lots more to come. I can't wait.

*This post was based off of one I wrote last week on my blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bunco Night

A year ago we moved into our new house. Same city, just managed to take advantage of the great real estate prices to make a nice upgrade. In our previous neighborhood, the neighbors were polite, but we had never really connected with anyone, and I was certainly never felt welcomed into the social circles of the SAHMs on the block. The new neighborhood has been completely different. Neighbors are friendly and there are several kids my son’s age. After, reading Anesthesioboist’s post on friendship, I have really tried to go out of way to make time to nurture these new friendships. So explains my joining of the monthly ladies Bunco club. Bunco is a fun but mindless game that makes an excellent excuse for gossiping socializing and alcohol refreshments. Hey what’s not to like about that?

I try my best to make it to Bunco, but often have to miss due to call or childcare obligations. Last month however I was all set to go. I was not on call and even made it home from work on time. I literally had my hand on the door knob to walk out when my pager went off. The number was labor and delivery, followed by those dreaded numbers…. 911. My stomach dropped, you know that feeling when rollercoaster hits the crest of its hill, multiply that times ten. I immediately got in my car, and called back on my way .

“What’s going on?” I asked the secretary who answers. Your partner’s in the OR doing a c-section, she said she needs you right away. Not good. My partner is extremely capable; if she’s calling in emergency help then things have taken a turn for the worse. I arrive in the OR in exactly 7 minutes. There is blood everywhere. It’s not clotting either. Definitely, a bad sign.

“What’s the story?”, I ask, as I enter the surgical field.

“Ruptured uterus from a VBAC” she says.

We work for an hour attempting to salvage her uterus, we fail, but we do save her life. Finally with patient stable, I leave and let my partner close. I change back into my skinny jeans and return to my car. I notice my hand shaking slightly as I start to turn the key, so I stop and take a few deep breaths.

As I pull into the neighborhood I notice there are still lots of cars at the Bunco party. So I go on in. Everyone is mingling and making small talk as they finish up. “Where were you?” they ask.

I open my mouth to answer, but in that moment a hundred different images flash through my mind. Finally I just smile and say, “It was a long day at the office.”