We had our lunch catered today, from Boulevard, by a fantastic oncology group, in appreciation of us. This is unprecedented, in my pathology history. We are the dungeon doctors, of the lab and morgue. We don't treat patients, so we don't have drug rep companies fawning over us and buying us lunches. Our microscope reps know we need them, so they don't have to work too hard. Most of us eat power bars, or apples, or spicy black bean burgers, in our office. Those of us who lunch, leave the premises. Sure, we potluck occasionally, but not often. Today, we got together and shared a great meal. Told stories. I learned that my senior partner had an oil rig job, one summer in college. His boss was terrified of snakes, so my partner's job was to walk in front of him and shoot them with a .22. He said all summer, he closed his eyes at night and saw snakes swimming in the water.
Boulevard gets a lot of their produce locally, so I was extremely excited to find a snail shell in my feta and macadamia nut salad. It was tiny, black, and swirly - so beautiful. I played a guessing game with my kids at dinner, "Guess what I found in my salad today?" It lasted for ten minutes. "A carrot?" "A bug?" "A cricket?"
I can't wait to write the letter of appreciation, for the meal. I trained with the oncologist who organized it. We worked together at the VA - she would call me when she was worried that a lump on a patient (behind the ear! Supraclavicular node!) was recurrent lymphoma or cancer. I helped her guide treatment. Still do. She called me, a couple of months ago, from the ER. I was reviewing a young girl's peripheral smear. Her hemoglobin and hematocrit were so low, they seemed incompatible with life. She and I were trying to figure out why, in order to triage and treat the patient. I pulled out a million books, and showed the smear around. I came up with a differential, and called her.
"She had a heart attack and died. I was there. There was nothing we could do." She sounded rattled. I am in awe of her - dealing with dying patients in her everyday life. I think if I saw them and got to know them, I would mentally crack.
I guess the patient's heart was working so hard, to pump what little blood she had around in her system, that it gave out. She was in her early 20's. It sucks when your best effort is not enough. We were never really sure why it happened, even when poring over her clinical history. Only theories. Sometimes nature trumps medicine and intelligence.
The oncologist showed up today in a Brett Favre jersey, on a dare from another clinician. I marveled.
"It's great that you can talk sports, with the guys. I would have no idea what I'm talking about." I can talk snakes, though. I've got a pretty good wealth of knowledge there. I told stories of tracking Timber rattlesnakes in the Ozarks, years ago, when GPS was still the stuff of government and research. That was kind of hairy. Thank goodness I never stepped on one.
My plastic surgeon blogging friend shares a lot of articles and blogs with me, in my reader. Today, she shared a link to Partners In Health, a group that has been based in Haiti for years and is primarily responsible for the relief efforts there, since they already have many clinics and camps in place. I donated over lunch. And felt good that the money was probably going to the right place.
Got ZERO plans this weekend. Except a fabulous brunch at Vieux Carre on Sunday with a friend and mentor, Dr. Styles. It's been four months, since we have seen each other in person. I can't wait to exchange gossip, advice, and Christmas gifts, over a Cajun brunch and great jazz music.
Kudos to my mother-in-law. She picks up the kids on Wed. (John) and Fri. (Sicily) for one-on-one time. They get ice cream and chocolate sauce and library and activities. I bought a kid's sewing machine at Christmas, with a child-sized table and chairs, to place in her house. Today was Sicily's second Friday of rapid, machine-paced sewing. She made an incredible bear with button eyes and nose (probably from Ramona's scrap stash). I just peeked in on her, sleeping. She's hugging her bear.
I'm so incredibly proud of Sicily - she had a deadline this week, in her Accelerated Reading class, so she could enjoy donuts and hot chocolate at a party today. Sugar is such a great motivator for her. She usually reads a Junie B. Jones book a week, but she needed four, with quizzes, in order to make her goal. She stayed up late at night reading, and aced her quizzes. One night she said, "Mom, I'm loving The Secret Garden, but could you just help me finish this book tonight? I don't think I can do it all myself." I readily obliged. I laughed on Wednesday, when I received four e-mails about her quiz grades. "Ding! Ding!"
Sicily was a little upset this week, because she got enough behavioral directives on Monday for talking in class to prevent her from participating in "Friday Special," when she gets to pick a treasure out of a box. A first, this year. I told her not to worry about it. I'm glad she isn't a completely perfect student. Straying from the rules, occasionally, will serve her well in life.