Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Music Bank

I am happy to say that since Friday, I have been sleeping six and seven hours straight. No more insomnia, right now! And I can read again - just finished an amazing book my sister gave me in Atlanta called Gonzalez & Daughter Trucking Co. by Maria Amparo Escandon. If you like reading good fiction about women's prison, truckers, and storytelling, you should check it out.

During my two week no reading insomnia spell I spent a lot of time on the back deck staring at the trees and listening to my inano really loud - checking my pager every so often to make sure I wasn't missing a call from the hospital. I found myself delving into the vault - lots of Alice In Chains, Hole, and Siouxsie & The Banshees. When you are depressed, there is no one better than Layne Staley to take you where you need to go. "Down In A Hole," "Hate To Feel," "Am I Inside," "Nutshell," - that guy knows depression, as my friend Katie said. He did lots of drugs, and I hate how he ended up, but I'm very thankful for his music.

I remember once in college he appeared in my dream. A bona fide rock star - hasn't happened since. We made out on a dirty Goodwill college couch - I can still see the brown carpet. Even though he was a little scrawny for my taste, it was a wonderfully sweaty, passionate dream that I enjoyed revisiting over and over in my head, despite the fact that we remained fully clothed and didn't get too far. All the angst of unfulfilled passion. I guess that is why Twilight is so popular - even though I had to skim a lot of it to get through the series and didn't really develop the full scale obsession that many of my friends did.

This week, I'm ready to shed that poor girl who I like to think of as "the other." The one from the Spring/Summer 2006. Maybe someday I will write about her - she deserves to have her story told - but if I do, it will be fictional and anonymous. I even managed to cry for her twice - for a couple of minutes. Once on the floor of a bathroom at a hotel in Chicago. And again, last week. Much easier to drown her out with music than actually be her, and get sad.

Part of the metamorphosis will be putting Layne Staley aside, for a while. I've got a great reason - my friend Laurie and I are going to see the one and only Les Claypool at The Village on April 24 (swoon!). Of course I know Primus, and have heard a smattering of stuff from his spin-off projects - but I've been doing lots of research, and so has Laurie. She made me a copy of Purple Onion, and I'm going to buy Of Whales and Woe, that has that great song "One Better" on it, and make a copy for her. Only three weeks!

During my research, I found out Claypool wrote a book. It has a really cool title - South of the Pumphouse. I got it at Barnes & Noble the other day. Now that I've laid the trucker book to rest, I'm anxious to get started so I can pass it on to Laurie. It has been likened to a Hunter S. Thompson novel, which is intriguing. Brothers, drugs, misconception, fishing - I don't see how I can be disappointed.

Music, soccer games, brunch with the kids and my friend Ramona Bates (the medical blogging superstar) and her wonder dog Rusty, egg hunt with Katie, Easter with family - there is a lot to look forward to, right now. And did I mention how much I can eat, these days? Despite the fact that the divorce process is rough, I am taking advantage of the fact that I can eat my weight in guacamole daily and still stay five pounds under my target. I guess stress heightens the old metabolism.

The other day, I was invited into the dialysis nurses' inner sanctum. It was such an amazing privilege. There was a birthday party, and I shoveled back homemade strawberry cake with cream cheese icing and strawberry banana whipped cream pie while I really got to know them, for the first time in three years. Listened to stories about church, bar-b-que, and kids. Introduced myself to some of the ones I didn't interact with by my first name, shedding the mantle of professionalism. On my way out, one of the nurses I just met walked up to me. Maybeth. I smiled at her, and wished her a Happy Birthday. Thanked her for letting me be a part of it. She asked, as if I was an alien from another planet, "Where do you come from?" I said, "What do you mean? The place or the training?"


"Here in Arkansas. Born in the same hospital I trained at. Was the only sibling, oldest of four, who couldn't leave home."

"Oh. Well, I really enjoyed meeting you."

"You, too. Hope to see you around soon."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Quartet

Read it over at MiM, some time Saturday I am guessing is when Boss KC will schedule it. If you are a new reader and at all interested, click on Mothers In Medicine on the blog roll to the right to look for it.

Glad topic week is over! I am exhausted. And call week is not far behind - only three more days. I am planning a nice evening alone tomorrow night much like the one I had last Friday - sushi, wine, Etta James real loud, and early to bed.

Hopefully the Spring Break slump will last into call weekend (knock on wood). I've been reducing a lot of the piles in my office this week and it is becoming recognizable again. This crazy winter kept me running around too much. I'm glad it is Spring.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Gangrenous Hemorrhoids

I'll let that title sink in for a minute. Think about it. I was shocked, when I read it on the specimen source sheet yesterday. I have seen a lot of hemorrhoids under the scope. Not as bad to look at as you might think - dilated, blood filled vessels underneath colonic and transitional (anal) mucosa. But gangrenous? That's a new dimension of hemorrhoid.

I've seen gangrenous limbs and extremities - fingers, toes, knee stumps, etc. The thought of gangrenous hemorrhoids elicited an olfactory sensation that was both curious and revolting. The combination of the scent of gangrene mixed with the anal extrusion of grape-like clusters of swollen blood vessels.

Then I thought of the neglect involved that would lead to gangrenous hemorrhoids. Was this person mentally stable? In a long term care facility with shady staff members that let their clients sit in wheelchairs in the corner of the room for days on end? What type of situation would generate gangrenous hemorrhoids?

I mentally prepared myself for the sight of gangrene superimposed onto hemorrhoids under the scope. Gangrene is not as ugly as you might think - an eosinophilic, basophilic (purple-y pink) smudge of necrotic cells infiltrated by neutrophils (purulence). Microscopic neutrophils are a lot cuter than gross pus. Tiny multi-lobed globes.

I searched for the tell-tale signs of gangrene, but they weren't there. Flipped to high power, and hunted around. Where was the gangrene? There was a little ulceration, but no gangrenous necrosis. I guess if someone looked at ulcerated hemorrhoids they might think they were gangrenous, and describe them as such. But there is a big difference between ulceration and gangrene.

So I've yet to see gangrenous hemorrhoids. A bit of a relief. But I enjoyed thinking about them, and wonder if they really exist. I decided it would make a great derogatory term for your worst enemy. The low-ball. The verbal gut-punch. "You are a gangrenous hemorrhoid."

Monday, March 22, 2010

How To (and not) Breast Pump at Work

Read it, over at MiM (click to blog roll on right). I am not sure when it will be scheduled to post - sometime this week, but I finished it.

I've more to say, but I'm tired. Maybe tomorrow night. It's cooking.

Anticipation, reality - which is better? I guess I'll have to satisfy myself with the former, for now.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wonderful Weekend

I really need to be paying bills, or worrying about the credit card bill that I lost (but it's not due until April so I can figure out how to do that online this week), or getting to some other items on my long, never-ending to-do list. But I'd rather draft this blog, and add pics tomorrow from my laptop at work, where the Internet connection is working.

I'm excited because it is Spring Break this week - and I've got lots of activities planned for the kids while I am at work. For me it means no swim practice, no lunches for school, no cooking breakfast and getting kids ready in the a.m. - I can just worry about getting me to and from work and concentrating on call.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Jonesboro - cloudy and sunny - mid-sixties. Perfect for a day at my friend Alyssa's house. You might think that since I am a fancy doctor, we had lots of fancy doctor events to attend at the Country Club. But you would be wrong. I think the fanciest doctors are the ones that don't try to be fancy. Alyssa fits into this category perfectly.

When Sicily and I arrived Saturday morning, we could see Ainsley, their three-year old, hopping up and down with excitement through the window. I had to warn Sicily not to jump out of the car while it was still moving. The kid's excitement was infectious.

First we hit the new swing set. It had a rock climbing wall that led to a castle turret. I even tried that.

Then we headed to lunch over at an organic college lunch bistro. The food was amazing, and we ate on the front porch in the sun. I had a grilled wrap filled with spinach, melted swiss cheese, a cream cheese and veggie mixture, and sprouts. For dessert, Alyssa and I had bites of her daughter's leftover peanut butter, apple, and honey sandwich (it was a little messy and intimidating for her - plus she is just so enthralled with Sicily's antics she forgets to eat).

After lunch, Sicily and I enjoyed quiet time on a blanket in the backyard with their dog, Miles, while everyone else was napping in the house. Watching the clouds roll overhead. Sicily got bored, and started an art project in the house, eventually enrolling all of us. Crayons, Easter eggs, and Pandora. I really wanted to get back in the sun (I'm such a Leo), so I went outside in between clouds to collect clovers and small flowers to add to the art. Here are the final products.

I'm proud of the girl's (and our!) work. Ainsley instituted the Funky Monkey band-aid club, which we all joined, even though none of us had boo-boos.

As the evening progressed, Alyssa prepared her famously fabulous pizza dough while her husband Chris chopped tomatoes, basil, and mushrooms. I pulled out a bottle of Frontier Red. He said,

"Oh! Did you buy that in honor of Fess Parker? He died this week."

I wish I was that cool. I had to ask who Fess Parker was. I fell in love with Frontier Red when I was looking for a cheap screw-top bottle on the way to Conway last month, so I wouldn't have to buy a bottle opener.

Chris is that cool. He has a vast, international beer collection (even has some home brew), ran his first marathon in Little Rock recently, and is a bit of a loner. I like that. Don't try the Grand Cru. Thumbs down.

After dinner we played in the sandbox. Sat on the swing set. Generated some good, bath-worthy grit.

After Alyssa read books and we winded the kids down, I made a bunch of CD's for Alyssa and Chris until the juice ran out of my computer (I forgot the charger). Chris headed to bed - he had a 12 hour shift Sunday. Alyssa and I stayed up late drinking wine and talking about the past.

It is so great, when you are playing detective in your own story, to have a supportive friend to bounce stuff off of. She was there. The more we talk, the more I put things together. The more I hurt. The more I grow. She talked about her past too, and although I was the maid of honor in her wedding (pinnacle position!), I learned more about her, and we grew closer.

The next morning, Sicily woke up writhing in agony and tears over a bad dream, and worry over leaving town and the wonderful weekend. I empathized with her, but couldn't console her very well. She's too reactive with me, as a Mom. Ainsley took over. Cheered her up while Alyssa and I cooked pancakes.

I can't wait to plan the next trip to Jonesboro.

I hope one day Ainsley can be there as much for Sicily as Alyssa is for me.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In The Woods

Well, I couldn't stay away as long as I would have liked. Insomnia does wonders for desire for creative expression.

Work was incredibly busy, the last two days. Blissfully mind-numbing. I had a record number of cases on Friday (was that only a few hours ago?). Parent/teacher conferences in the a.m. Surprisingly, I got a case from an old med school buddy, one that I thought had moved to Texas. He had the record score on the MCAT in our class - a blindingly high number that quickly circulated our freshman year. I had so many tough, important cases - clinician calls were coming out of the woodwork. It's great to talk to clinicians - you get important information about the patient that can steer your diagnostic skills in the right direction - but on crazy days it can just slow you down. He called me around three or four in the afternoon - I hadn't talked to him in a year or so.

"Hey! Great to hear from you. Why is your name on this case? Are you back in town?"

"No, still in Texas."

He told me about his new group, and his new job. He was always a talker, and this conversation was not going to be short. I threw some benign thyroid cases on the scope, so I could get some work done while I was talking to him.

We talked about the patient first, and it was nice to be able to tell him that what I was seeing was not recurrent cancer - just benign stuff. Maybe infectious. Stains pending over the weekend will help (or not) pin down the culprit. After that was over, I asked him how he was doing.

"Any new kids? I know you have one boy. How is your wife?"

His wife is an amazingly beautiful nurse he met in training at an institution in another state. I met her at a Christmas party a couple of years back, and remember talking to her about her family in Oklahoma. Quality girl.

"We had one more, during the move. Another boy. He's 8 months now. Doing great."

"Congratulations! I'm so happy for you."

"What about you? Any more kids?"

I laughed. "No, I'm done, I think. Just the two. That's enough. They are really great."

I'm not reading much, these days. Stress makes it difficult to focus. But I keep going back to In the Woods - such a great book. I think the real reason I liked it so much (this happens with books) is that I identified with the main character - Adam Ryan. I felt like I was him. I had enormous empathy for his situation, even though it was entirely different from my own.

Adam was a part of a trio, who were helping him. I get Sam. I have a Sam. My Sam is my sister, my (gasp) therapist, and my best friend Alyssa all rolled up in one. Luckily, they have more intelligence and shrewdness, and less naivety, than poor old Sam.

What I need, so bad, is a Cassie. Friendship, emotional support, and intelligence. Sometimes (well once) this need is so overwhelming that it makes me do crazy things. Want to flout the rules and just need. Lose control with my need, so much that it scares the hell out of me. I am not one to lose control. Doesn't happen, in my life.

Got directions to Jonesboro in the a.m. There is a new route - one a little bit different from the last time I went. Thank God for the iphone.

I hope I don't end up like Adam. I see that potential, in me.

Music time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Wall

I feel like I've got so much going on right now I can barely breathe. I have found work empathy and support in someone I would never have suspected to in a million years, and that feels really good.

I cannot afford to feel vulnerable right now. I'm juggling kid's emotional well-being, lawyers, mind games, finances, work, swim practices, insomnia, etc., and once again, it's a common theme in my life, I am the one who is suffering. I just tie it up, stuff it down, and decorate the package.

So I decided to build an emotional wall around me and my kids. Thick, strong, and tall. I've bought a bunch of advice books on divorce for kids that I need to read. Their reality has already changed and they've adjusted quickly, but I'm sure we've got a long way to go. I'm on call next week - so that'll be two straight weeks of working. MiM's got a topic week next week - and I volunteered to answer two questions, so I'll be working on that.

I need a break, from this blog. Ironically, when my monthly hits have shot over 1,000 - highest ever, for me. I'll post the MiM links - two great topics - female colleagues and breast pumping. Fun! Fun!

I reserve the right to change my mind in a few days, if I feel less tired.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Divorce Is Stressful

No two ways about it. I would never have known how much, until now. Luckily, I am talking about it at work, and getting lots of support and empathy from those who have been there.

So I am comforted that it is normal to:

1. Have to ask for help from my partners some days (well, only once so far, but I see more in the future). And I hate asking for
help. Friday was day two, and the first time I only took it up because it was offered to me.

2. Lose weight without trying (Hey! There's a new angle on a weight loss cure to market!)

3. Be scared.

Last night, I was on the phone with my best friend Alyssa, and she was giving me a huge rocket-ship sized mind-fucking new angle on some past events that had my head swimming around in circles and the walls got all blurry. I told her I felt sick and she said, "Gizabeth, please come to Jonesboro this weekend. With one or both kids. You need to get away."

Birthday parties be damned. That sounds like a good idea. I'm going to Jonesboro. Her daughter's got a new swing set I can't wait to try out.

People say love makes you go out of control. Say, do, and think crazy things. I look back on the three relationships I have had in my life, and wonder if I have ever really been there before.

Be careful who you chat with on Facebook. Sometimes the craziest people are the ones you know.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Google Analytics

Wow! My stats are really high right now - higher than ever.

While I've got such a great following (probably temporary) - I'd like to direct you all to some of my favorite posts - the ones I did in the beginning, in Nov. '08. Back when I was silly and naive about this whole blogging process, and was trying really hard to impress my small group of readers.

Just click on the history to the right, and enjoy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stat Pap

Read it, over at MiM, if you want (click to right on my blogroll - remember? I'm having link problems).

For Your Information

All comments on my blog will now be viewed for my approval before they are allowed to be published. Meant to do that in settings a long time ago. Got a good reason to the other day.

Here's my answer to the eternal question:

WE DIDN'T WORK - I mean us, as a couple(thank you oh thank you you know who you are - got that MiM-worthy blog a marinatin'). We are still trying to work, in whatever capacity that means in the future.

How you can help:

Support me. Support Mike. Support the kids.

John played his second soccer game today, and kicked the ball! Sicily's 7th birthday party (it just keeps going on and on) is tomorrow. There's no drama here, right now.

That is all.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Bilious vomit
Sits in my esophagus
Threatening to spew.


Here is a tiny part of where the truth hurts, since I am so opposed to sharing to the masses.

I've been having a lot of this, lately.

My favorite episode: In the hotel in Atlanta last weekend. I woke up at 2:45, much like right now (recurring theme). I worried and dreaded over spinning and spinning and thinking bad and good thoughts until dawn, like I had the night before, until my amazingly cute nephews finally rescued me with hugs and kisses and snuggles and iphone games when the light peeked through the windows. Then I looked at my book - I had 200 pages left. And thought about the fact that I was in a posh hotel. Had half a bottle of wine left from the night before. Read for three hours, and took a power nap from 6:00 to 8:00. Woke up, showered, apologized to my sister for being awake half the night and disturbing her sleep away from home. Told her she got a nice, finished good book out of the deal. Got us both coffee (she takes de-caff) and enjoyed an amazing goat cheese and tomato compote frittata for breakfast.

Life ain't all candy and roses. You've got to make the best of what you've got. I'll keep trying to do this for as long as I can.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


I filed for divorce today. I am saying this because it is going to hit the papers soon. I recently found out, from my husband, that some of his partners read my blog. I didn't know this - he must have told them about it when he started reading my blog last fall. I know I've got a lot of readers, but I can't tell who they are. Maybe I could if I knew how, but I don't.

My husband was the first person to know about this, from the beginning. I tentatively made my final decision last Sunday when I came back from Atlanta - I could see that this limbo I have created was hurting everyone - me, my husband, and my children, and it was better not to drag it out too much longer. I told him this, on the front porch.

So I want to lay down some ground rules, before the gossip mill starts grinding. There are a lot of drama kings and queens out there, and I will not be a party to it.

1. No mud slinging. If I wanted to sling mud, I would have done it a long time ago. I'm not really the type to sling mud anyway - I'm more the type to let it trickle and ooze down on my insides until it threatens to swallow me up like quicksand. This is the father of my children, and we have come a long way in the past year co-parenting as a team. I would like to continue to do that - even though I cannot control what he does or says. Having said that, I will fight fire with fire. But I will not cast the first stone. He knows that. Slinging mud will only hurt ourselves and our kids.

That is the only rule, I can't think of another one. I wanted to make that clear. I have worked and worked on this until I am blue in the face, and I am tired of working. I need a break. I can see that the break I have taken so far has been good for me - I see everything so much more clearly now (the veil has been lifted!). I'm more objective. I see possibility everywhere, instead of obstacles. I'm quicker at work. I'm better with my kids. I'm better in meetings - it is so much easier to voice my opinion without being afraid of the consequences. I'm happier - the people close to me are noticing. I recognize truth. And it hurts so bad and feels so damn good all at the same time. Weird.

Enough pain.

I'm back on this crappy PC tonight because I left my Best Buy guy high and dry on the front porch - He came to my house at 4:00 and I have been so busy I just forgot. I got a call from my daughter, who stayed home sick today (a rarity for her) after too much birthday partying, I guess.

"Mom, there is this guy in the front yard who has been trying to call you. He said he is here to fix your computer."

My stomach sank - I was in the middle of trying to finish up cases to head to Conway tomorrow and get to the house to pick up my daughter, then head to Layla's to get calzones for me and my parents. I saw a strange number on my iphone when I was in CT listening (and laughing) to lewd jokes told by the radiologists and looking at wet lung slides for diagnostic material, but I ignored it.

"Can you hand the phone to him, Sicily?"

I apologized profusely. He was very understanding. I asked if he was the guy I spoke to in the store last week, and he said no, he hadn't met me.

"This is not like me, to drop the ball like this. I've had one of those days - you know? The really bad kind that only happens once a year or so (in my head I was thinking once a lifetime, I hope)."

"No problem. I understand. Just call our 1-800 number to set up another appointment. Maybe on a weekend, if that is easier for you."

"I'll do that. I am ready to cancel Verizon Wireless internet service before my 30 day free trial is up. I hate it - it is really slow and frustrating. Thanks again for coming out and I am sorry for your trouble."

I want to start singing again someday - the emotional release I got from those two band re-HEAR-sals was so wonderful, and I miss it a lot. Next time I want a microphone. I was just singing to a guitar and believe me, I can compete pretty well with a guitar, but it is exhausting after a couple of hours, and not good for range. I hear from my brother that there are tricks to a microphone, especially with the letter "P." I am sure I will screw it all up in the beginning. But that's OK. I've got time to learn.

I am ready for a new beginning.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

99 Problems


March 9 is a very special day for me. It is Sicily's due date, although she wasn't born until the 10th. I worked right up until her due date, and was induced the next day. Didn't want her, or me, to overcook.

It's also special because it is my youngest brother Matt's birthday. On the day he was born I was 10, and had just spent the night at my best friend Melinda's house. We woke to a light snowfall. I remember staring out her 1980's Lakewood subdivision kitchen window in awe, when her mother walked over to me after a phone call.

"Gizabeth? Your dad was going to pick you up, but plans have changed. You will stay here with us for the day, and then we are taking you to your grandparents to spend the night. You have a new baby brother, Matthew. Congratulations."

Melinda was my super-smart Chinese-American Montessori friend. I lost touch with her when she left to go to high school in North Little Rock, but remember learning somehow that she was valedictorian of her high school class and got a scholarship to a fancy Northeastern Ivy League school. So I was pleasantly surprised to come to the realization during training that one of my Chinese born attendings at the VA was her dad. It took us a few months to puzzle that one together, even though we had spent many hours looking at cases over the scope. He was thrilled to recall carpooling me and her daughter to the mall - we spent hours checking out punk fashions, eating pretzels at the German beer pub, and buying cotton candy Jelly Bellies, our favorite.

Dr. Fan, a dry, witty man with an eternal smile and seemingly permanently closed eyes that I always thought might have benefited from blepharoplasty (how could he see through the scope?) announced: "We have to call her! You have to talk."

I remembered Dr. Fan when I was ten - a peripheral dad (to me) who took second string to interacting with his daughter's friends. I knew he had something to do with medicine, but had no idea he was a pathologist. As I caught up with Melinda on the phone, I was excited to learn that she was a breast pathologist at Harvard. The apple never falls far from the tree.

During my training, Dr. Fan had emergency double surgery - a CABG and AAA. As far as I know and hope, he is still retired and happy.

The changes between Sicily at 6 and 7 are astounding. She has turned into a teenager - staying up late after lights-out reading chapter books, and dragging out of bed in the morning. Creating a.m. chaos that recently necessitated the initiation of a b-mod project in my house - Sicily and Jack both happily collect and count tickets that are daily doled out for morning and bedtime goals, ones that can be traded in at the end of the week for presents from a large pillowcase. Tattoos, funky monkey band-aids, barrettes, stickers, skull-decorated rubber duckies, you name it. It's working well so far, and Sicily enjoys adding and subtracting incurred tickets to determine if she will reach her weekly goal, so I like to think it is good for her math skills.

She is also coming into her own. She recently planned and hosted a sleepover for three of her friends, successfully guided and executed with my assistance. She's usually a good role model for her little brother. She keeps me in line with school activities and responsibilities. She is an amazing artist, a budding musician, and a joy to have around.

I recently got to spend some time with my brother in Atlanta. He has temporarily tabled his musical dreams - he is a bass guitarist - to learn the lawyer trade. He's doing well, and has a new girlfriend I first met over Christmas (she was valedictorian of her class, like you!). My favorite moment with him in Atlanta was sitting in the hotel room, waiting for my sister and his girlfriend to pick up some wine so we could chill out and wait for our 9:30 dinner reservations across the street. We talked more like adult friends than big sister and little brother. As the door cracked and Sara and Melissa entered, he quickly stood up from the bed and wandered over to my chair. Gave me a kiss on the cheek and rubbed my back. That simple gesture meant the world to me. I love him to death.

Happy Birthday Matt and Sicily!!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Truth is Stranger Than Fiction III

I'm supposed to be decorating for Easter - I promised a week ago - but all this new fiscal responsibility: checking account, credit card, student and car loan transfers, has overwhelmed me. I've already managed to lose my debit card pin once, and I left my debit card with my sister over the weekend in Atlanta, to pay the bill at Craft Bar. So I am waiting another five or seven days to actually have a debit card - a month after getting one I still haven't managed to use it at the ATM.

So we are into leprechauns at my house - in the early spirit of St. Paddy's Day. Sicily was sharing at bedtime her drawing at school today. "The band of the hat was four clovers in a row, like this." She mimed with her hands. "They were connected by a gold band, and I colored the hat all around the clovers in black. The beard was rainbow. Everyone was real impressed. I think I want to be a leprechaun for Halloween, mom - one with a rainbow beard."

I think they are a little overly awed after hearing a story at my stylist's last week. They aren't the only ones.

A woman was trying to get her autistic son into his own apartment for the first time - he was in his late twenties and had always lived at home. She set him up and went to visit daily for the first two weeks. He had been fascinated with leprechauns from an early age, and the apartment highlighted his obsession - leprechaun pictures on the walls, leprechaun figurines on every side table and dresser, leprechaun pillows on the chairs, stuffed leprechauns hanging from the ceilings. His mother was pleased by the decor - hoping he would transition into independence with ease in the familiar, comforting surroundings of the treasures he collected throughout his life.

He called her around day 14.

"Mom, you've got to come over! Quick! I've got a new leprechaun."

She was busy at her job as a nurse, and answered a little distractedly, "That's great, son. I don't think I am going to be able to stop by today. Are you going to be all right? I'll come by tomorrow."

"No mom, you have to come see it today! It's the real thing. I've got a leprechaun."

"Nice. I'm happy for you. I'll be by tomorrow, I promise."

The next day she rang the doorbell of his apartment, and he excitedly led her in.

"Here mom, in the closet in my bedroom. Come see! It's my leprechaun."

He opened the door to reveal a midget standing in the closet. She cried out in alarm. He was a Jehovah's witness who had stopped by the day before and was invited in. I can only imagine his reaction when he looked around the apartment.

She profusely apologized to the man and led him out. He said he was all right, had been well fed with cereal, slept in the closet, and claimed he would not press charges.

Almost Haiku

I love the smell of the Little Red River
Murky, swampy, earthy
Kind of like the liver.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I spent enough time in Best Buy, at Mac Solutions, and on the phone with a consultant today that I will get my computer problems fixed, soon. Learned enough to know that I called my router a modem, in the last blog. Baby steps.

In the meantime, I cannot post a picture of the amazing hotel room my sister booked for us this morning - just to make everyone jealous. I'm glad I have lost 6 pounds since January - unintentionally. I was shocked on the scale the other day when my jeans were feeling loose - I have a bad habit of losing when I am not paying attention and too busy. Don't EVAR want to get back down to the ugly, skinny size 2 I was during fellowship, so I've a great excuse to eat like a pig at the classy, upscale, fancy restaurants we are hitting. I don't ever want to lose my ass again. I kind of like it. It's cute. It looks great in the new hipsters I bought this week on a shopping trip with my sister-in-law (there is a statute of limitation on panties - style and wear - and mine had expired). And it won't be there forever, so I've got to make the most of it while I can.

The hotel is called The Mansion on Peachtree, and Sara got us a great deal. She was so excited when she called me this morning. "The price included valet and breakfast! Katherine Heigl was there last week! When my husband and I spent the night there for his birthday once, Paul McCartney was staying there!" I couldn't help getting caught up in her giddiness, and googled it tonight to confirm my hunches. My sister has exquisite taste. Even though it is my weekend, I want her to get a night away from the kids, so I told her the room was my treat, for all her planning and encouragement.

Off to Memphis in the a.m., after carpool. I need to get directions to the airport.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Good and The Bad

I've had an amazing, happy day. Carpooled the kids to school in my jammies and slippers, and took a long, slow run and shower. Didn't emerge from my house/cave until almost noon. Drove around running errands with the windows down, singing my anthem "Defying Gravity," from Wicked, as loud as I could. I even annoyed Sicily, when I picked her up after piano to go to swim practice. "Mom, I'm sure you had plenty of time to listen to that today. You weren't working. You don't need to sing it anymore, I'm getting sick of it. Chipmunks, please."

I am so excited - I went to a work meeting at 4:00 that I learned about yesterday when I went in to clean up a nasty, hanging on liver case. We haven't had a section meeting in a while, and there were some hot topics, so I didn't want to miss it. Some of them were cryptic. Like this one -- "Tumor Board, Dr. Palmer."

When we got to that subject, Dr. Palmer said, "The radiation oncologist called and wants to start a new tumor board. Once a month. It will be at 7:00 a.m., like breast conference. She wants a pathologist to participate."

Inside I was screaming "Me! Me! Me!" and actually raised my hand a little, like a schoolgirl. I thought I might get Breast Conference after one of the other Dr.'s retired, but it was clear that it already went to my beautiful partner Michelle, when I got there. I've subbed a couple of times, but once a year is not much. And now that my scope is paid off, I've been looking for a good excuse to splurge with my CME and buy a camera. There is some great new technology out there, far more advanced than the Spot I used in residency. Cameras that bypass computer software and take the image directly from the scope to the monitor, so you don't have to play and juggle with the infuriating software to get good lighting for images. Now I can research it.

I tried to be calm, and waited for another taker. I thought about carpool and the kids, but I already have that great teacher who takes $$ to let me drop the kids off early. They love getting up at the crack of dawn and hanging out with her - it's like a treat for them. At the rate I am currently going to Conway (once a month) - another early morning is just no big deal. I love interacting with clinicians. I miss all the teaching conferences and lectures I did in residency/fellowship. After a healthy pause (well, really about 30 seconds) I volunteered verbally.

"Great, thanks Giz! Just call her when you get back on Monday. I'm sure she would love to talk about it and get things set up."

Hee hee. They acted like I had done them a favor. Suckers.

The frustrating thing is that I have been so busy this week I haven't had time to figure out why the hell I can't get internet on my laptop at home. YouTube video weekend mornings with John have gone out the window this month - I can't view any media in the house, period. Inferior, viral-ridden PC. I'm not knocking them all, but this one is toast. I tried in vain to hook up my laptop to the linksys modem with an ethernet cable, but still no dice. My Apple guy, who is too busy with school and work and wedding plans to help out and give lessons for the past few months now, even Facebook chatted with me a couple of weeks ago and told me to come in, after I sent him a desperate Facebook message asking for help. I already burned half a day on an earlier weekend at Best Buy and the Apple store trying to fix my cryptic problem. I remembered tonight that he offered help, and forgot he is off tomorrow. Oh well.

I have time. Time is good. There is time for everything.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

One Month Anniversary Eve

Tomorrow is the one month anniversary of my separation from my husband. This is not a secret. My family knows, his family knows, our friends know, and I have divulged this to my female partners. It's getting out there. My reasons are private, and we are still working. I'm not here to launch a smear campaign. But this is my blog, and I am talking about my reality.

When you've been with someone for almost 13 years, it's tough to work separately. Especially when you have kids. You tend to project. My parents have been together, through thick and thin, and this frame of reference is how I have constructed my approach to marriage. If there are problems, you deal with them. Work on it. Get through it.

But after a year of working, I am still stuck. I see that the separation was necessary, to move forward. Wherever that may take me. It's funny how no matter what history you have with your siblings, stress brings blood together. My sister, my biggest critic in life, is supporting me. That is enough for me, right now, to do what I am doing.

So I am really looking forward to heading to Atlanta this weekend, to have a fabulous birthday dinner for my brother at an amazing restaurant (Two Urban Licks - I have checked out the website and am really stoked). But even more, I am looking forward to Saturday and night with my sister. I've been off this week, and have had loads of fun re-connecting with old mentors at the University and the VA, spending time with my nanny and her granddaughter at ACH, and just taking time for me. Alone. Coffee at Boulevard. Dragging a glass of wine out over two hours with a book.

My favorite book last year was Olive Kitteridge. Despite the fact that I haven't yet finished, I think I have to say my favorite book this year is the one I am reading (and I have read a ton so far this year) -- In The Woods by Tana French. It won a lot of awards, so I don't have much to add except that I would highly recommend it, thus far. The only nitpicking I have yet to do is her portrayal of the forensic pathologist. When you've been there, and done that, no one can describe it to your satisfaction.

So here I am. In a place I would have never imagined. One that does not fit into my image of myself, or of a perfect family. But strangely, I am doing all right. I've got a lot of support that I would never have imagined. And the kids are adjusting to their new reality. They are the most important ones to focus on, right now.

Yesterday, when I was at the VA, I visited one of my favorite attendings from fellowship - one that I hadn't seen in a couple of years. I told him about my separation. He was more shocked than a lot of my other friends and family.

"I guess that this is the time in my life where I am supposed to become a lesbian. Except there is a problem with that, for me. Girls are amazingly beautiful, but they have never done that 'thing' for me. So I guess I will be celibate, like Morrissey (sp? - I am too lazy to check)."

He laughed. "I miss you so much. It's not the same around here, without you. Don't worry, Giz. No matter what happens, you'll come out all right. I know you too well. I have faith in that."

I'm glad for his faith. As well as that of my friends and family. I'll get through this, somehow.