breaking bad habits

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 | | 0 comments
first a bit of a back story....

ryan and i have a bad habit. a very bad habit. each and every time we start a {simple} home project, in inevitably blossoms into about 800 other home projects as well.  ask anyone who knows us.  i start mentioning to my girlfriends about a "little weekend project we have going on at the house" and get the raised brow. the silent "yea right" i'm so very accustomed to.  ryan's degree is in construction with a minor in perfectionism.  my degree is in medicine but with minors in multitasking, to-do list making, and biting off more than i can realistically chew.

what started as a {relatively} small project in the backyard....clearing out some landscaping in order to make way for a covered patio and a kids playspace.....has taken on a life of it's own. the kids indoor playroom is now in the works, drywall texturing has been sprayed, and the entire house is getting repainted (inside and out).  this sounds easy enough right?  wrong. factor in redecorating, new light fixtures, window treatments....OH and the fact that we have 2 rambunctious littles and 2 full time jobs.  ha!  and that i want all of this to be done by october 20, ben's first birthday. that too.


some things never change.  as i look ahead at all the things we've got going on....i find myself just wanting to get things done and crossed off that forever growing list.  until i realize that that list is my life.  i've been reading a book on buddhism & the mindfulness teachings of buddhism can really be applied to motherhood to ensure you don't get wrapped up in that all too common fate.  and i'm trying really REALLY hard to work on my need to get things done, crossed off, tucked away. i've never been good at "living in the moment".  i'm a doer. it's in my blood and in large part why i've gotten where i've gotten in my life.  it serves me well.

but, in the quiet moments i secretly wish, and deeply so, that i could help myself slow down.  forget the to do list.  soak up a few moments of nothing.  enjoy more moments for what they are on their own rather than looking ahead to what they will be.  it dawned on me recently that part of the reason i take so many pictures is so that i can look back at my favorite life moments.  obvious but why not just live them now?

i was stopped dead in my tracks late one evening after my littles had gone to bed. i was playing on the computer waiting for ryan to come to bed when i happened upon this quote.

“Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach. T. Berry Brazelton. Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with ‘Goodnight Moon’ and ‘Where the Wild Things Are,’ they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.” Then she goes on and talks about some of the mistakes she made while raising her babies. “…the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make…I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of [my children] sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4, and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. --Anna Quindlen

and that right there just about sums it up.  if there is no other reason to live in the moment, there is everything captured in that quote above. so this weekend, i reveled in every moment. the messy, sticky, silly moments. there was a major kids vs parents dance off to be had. we twirled. we danced in the rain. we had major "talk time" after several tantrums spun out of control. we cooked and cleaned with one another and answered questions that all started with "why...".  we snuggled and we {gasp} jumped on beds.  boy did i love each of those moments. even the not so nice ones.

i will continue to struggle with this thing. this "living in the moment" thing. it is my curse and one it think many of us working mom's bear.  but...i'll keep fighting the good fight.  day in and day out.  moment after messy beautiful life moment.

white {coat} wall

Sunday, August 12, 2012 | | 0 comments
i am trying to be more consistent about sunday evening me time...specifically in the form of a run. nothing crazy or long. just a solid 30-45 minutes for me to run, clear my head, and reflect on the week past.  it's good for my body and even better for my soul.  i sweat profusely, especially in the august heat, and random thoughts flow through my mind...some worth pursuing and some more worthy of being left behind on the pavement.

here is what tonight's reflection brought me.

when i first met her, she was sitting comfortably in a hospital bed surrounded by pieces of home. a picture of her with her mother. a small bag filled with nail polishes and a zebra print nail file. {girls notice these kinds of things}.  she was about my age and not particularly sick looking.  she was hospitalized because her immune system, already primed to attack itself, was now attacking her blood cells.  she was profoundly anemic and unable to provide enough oxygen to her vital tissues.  the simplest maneuver, walking from her bed to the window left her gasping for air.  this had gone on for weeks and she was tired.  things were, however, getting slowly better....and after a few days of getting to know her....we were able to give the thumbs up for her discharge.  she left the hospital with that blessing and also with a large pill bottle full of high dose steroids aimed at calming her body's sense to attack itself.

fast forward a month later, earlier this week, when i saw her back in clinic. she didn't look particularly different only now dressed in regular clothes.  i followed her into the exam room and we started to catch up.

"how have you been?" i asked. excited. hoping that the medicines had done the trick.  "ok, i guess."  she paused.  a long pause.  "just ok?" i said.  the pause continued and she lowered her glasses to rub her eye.  "honestly, doctor murphy....these medicines make me feel like shit."

now it was my turn to pause. a long pause that rivaled the one before.  before i could fully process all the thoughts running through my head....."i know exactly how you feel" is what came out.  she looked at me, seemingly puzzled and the corner of her mouth lowered ever so slightly.  "i'm just so tired all the time." she continued.  "i know my bloodwork is looking better but i feel awful. i feel like this defective human being who can't do anything for herself."

that word. defective. harsh in its sound and delivery yet a perfect choice. "i know exactly how you feel." i repeated, this time more sure.  she look at me with a furrowed brow and with a chuckle, said "how could you possibly know how i feel?"

it was a totally fair question.  one that she was fully entitled to.  even still it caught me by surprise and i fumbled for a second, not entirely sure of the right thing to say.  i told her briefly of my seizure and how i, too, took medicine daily that didn't always agree with me.  about the adjustment.  about the way living with a chronic medical problem effects my life.

"you have issues, too?" she asked, as if i had just told her i once flew to the moon.  {"loads of them" i giggled to myself}.  "yep. sure do. we ALL do no matter what it looks like. you are not in this alone."

then she said the most amazing thing.  "so underneath that fancy white coat, you're really just like me? damaged and imperfect but beautiful all the same?"

i literally fought back tears.  right there in the middle of clinic.  "exactly, my dear. exactly."

we are all damaged and imperfect. but beautiful all the same.

speaking of beautiful....

it all boils down to this.

Saturday, August 4, 2012 | | 0 comments

my internal medicine boards are made up of two hundred and forty multiple choice questions.

i know it is necessary for us all to be tested.  to try and distill down out of a partly intangible experience all the bits and pieces that we need to know, on paper and in daily practice.  let me be fair ~ a bulk of medicine is knowing and applying what we know as fact, and evidence based.

but how do you really test someone in the nuances, the subtleties, the art of being a good doctor?  that, my friends, takes a lifetime....and can't be captured in a multiple choice format.  in the end, it will be my patients that decide whether i pass or fail.

so i sit here on this quiet saturday morning, sipping my coffee and answering the last of my study questions, thumbing through the last of a few key concepts that my brain has yet to absorb.  my sweet littles are at the beach with their daddy and grandparents so i can bring closure on a 6 month binge of studying for this test, these 240 questions.  and i laugh to myself over the inherent irony of it all.

the countless hours the hospital, hovering over patients' bedsides.  the wisdom passed down by seasoned mentors and amazing clinical masters.  the sleepless nights. the piercing cry of my pager.  the hands held, the diagnoses delivered, and the perspective gained that life really is all too short and far too sweet to be taken for granted.

it all boils down to this yet i know there is so much MORE than this.  but here we go...monday morning, 8am. be there or be square.

best of luck to all my colleagues and friends also sitting for their boards this month.  we've come a long way, my friends.  {and have even farther on this great journey to go.} 

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