The Thankful Project Wraps Up

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We made it! I'm very fortunate in that I have off tomorrow as a paid holiday and that I had to ability to take Friday off out of my paid time off bank. Whoo! I am super excited to have four days at home with my family and friends, and although lots of my free time will be taken up with school work, I do have some fun plans in the works. 

If you haven't heard, tonight is the first night of Hanukkah,
This is the first time since 1888 that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving have coincided. Apparently, some people who are way smarter than I am figured out that this is pretty rare, and that the next time this will happen is probably in about 75,000 years. Pretty crazy! I'm hoping everything works out tomorrow with the food. I'm nervous about the latkes, but I think I'll be okay. I'll try to remember to take pictures of the event, haha. 

Friday, I'm actually contemplating going to the AT&T store when it opens, mainly because they're having a great sale on phones and I would really love to upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy S4 for less than $200. Also, the AT&T store opens at 8, which is pretty sane. If it's too nuts over there, I'll turn around the go home, but... we'll see. Friday afternoon, I'm having lunch with a friend and hanging out with Levi, and then the rest of the day/evening will be spent writing my paper for immunology. Saturday, my mom's having a bunch of her cousins and their kids over for "Thanksgiving" and I'm responsible for the mashed potatoes, sweet potato souffle, and apple pie. I'll be spending the morning cooking and baking, while intermittently writing the rest of my immunology paper, and then Saturday night will be spent eating entirely too much food at my mom's. Then Sunday, my friend Colleen is coming over and we're going to watch Downton Abbey and drink tea and generally be bums on the sofa. Minus the whole "writing a 10-15 page paper" thing, I'm pretty excited. 

And now... on to the thankful!

Day 26: A criticism you've received
Ah, another difficult one to write. No one likes criticism (there's your "thanks, Captain Obvious" for the day). It's not fun to be told that you're not doing something correctly or that you're not very good at something. Or alternately, that you are something that isn't very good. This is the case for me. I have been told that I am a rather intolerant person. It's true. I'm very impatient and I do not, shall we say, suffer fools gladly. However, once it was brought to my attention, I realized that yeah... it's true. But it's not all bad. Now, when I feel like I want to punch someone in the face, I can take a step back and try to not be so quick to judge people. It's definitely helps keep my stress down, and it's nice to be nicer to people, for sure.

Day 27: A simple pleasure  
This one's easy for me. Falling asleep when I want to, waking up when I want to without an alarm, laying in bed, reading a book, and snuggling with my cats/Ken. Even better if I can take a nap without having left bed in the first place. In fact, I think that might happen this weekend...

Day 28: Free day!
Look, I'm early! I figured I'd write this tonight instead of tomorrow, because honestly, I know I won't have time to do it tomorrow before the cooking/baking/family extravaganza begins. So. We finally made it.  I am super thankful that I have the next four days off. I will get to see my family and my friends, and I'll also  have some time to myself to rest. I'm thankful for the fact that tomorrow, I have nothing to do but cook, bake, and do some research... all of which can occur in my pajamas. I'm thankful that yesterday, I got to snuggle with my friend's 10 week old baby while she and I caught up on each others' lives. And I'm thankful that right now, I am going to eat an ice cream bar, take some meds, and go to bed with my Kindle!

Thanks for following along on my haphazard journey through gratitude, and I hope that you've all been able to reflect on the things that you're thankful for this season, and always. Have a wonderful holiday and I'll see you on the other side!

- A

The Thankful Project: Coming Down the Home Stretch

Monday, November 25, 2013


Whew! It's been a crazy couple of days... although that seems to have become the norm around here, so I don't know why it's so surprising anymore. Let me just say that before we get to the prompts for The Thankful Project, I am seriously thankful for the fact that it's a short week here! CHOP gives us Thanksgiving off, but I also decided to take Friday off as well. Hurrah for a 4 day weekend, right? Right.

This past weekend was very busy, but ridiculously fun. Friday after class, I went home and studied for for 4 hours. That part wasn't very fun, but I did accomplish my goal of going to bed at midnight. Saturday morning, I woke up for MY LAST SATURDAY CLASS EVER (and promptly threw myself a small parade). Then I went to Philadelphia, acquired coffee, and went to class where I half-listened to the lecture on antibiotics (super interesting, actually) and half-studied for the exam we were having after lecture. (Sidenote: Why do professors insist on lecturing before exams!? Worst idea ever.) The exam itself wasn't TOO terrible, and I managed to figure out how to use the calculator we were given (always a battle). I am anxiously awaiting the grades to be posted, but our professor hasn't posted any of our grades online since our first exam, so I shouldn't hold my breath or anything.

Saturday afternoon was spent grocery shopping and running errands to prep for Game Night that night. As per usual, we were running behind, so people started showing up and I had just finished throwing stuff in my hair to make it curly and putting on my makeup. Fortunately, we were ordering pizza and so there wasn't a main course to be prepared, but nothing was in the oven as far as appetizers were concerned. Also as per usual, I made WAY too much food. I also neglected to take pictures of everything because I was too busy prepping food, making food, serving food, eating food, and laughing my face off. Sorry, guys. Just use your imagination:

- Pretzels with beer cheese sauce (which I've made before, only I cheated this time and used frozen pretzel nuggets... SO much easier)
- Spinach and artichoke dip (I can't find the recipe, but I swear, I'll post it later because it's to die for)
- Pigs in blankets (store-bought, also nicknamed "Cuddly Meat" by one of our guests)
- Chips and salsa
- Buffalo chicken dip (brought by a guest)
- Pizza (ordered)
- Cheesecake sampler from The Cheesecake Factory (purchased at Sam's Club)
- Cannoli dip served with graham crackers and strawberries

We played Cards Against Humanity (always hysterical) and introduced some more people to the wonder that is Telephone Pictionary. Around 11, everyone helped clean up and do the dishes, I packaged up leftovers for people, and by midnight, everyone was gone. And yes, I think it's absolutely amazing that my friends did dishes from their own party. Do I have the best friends ever? Yes, yes I do.

Sunday was spent mostly sleeping, as my methotrexate really knocked me out. I did get out to return some pants to the mall (before the holiday craziness sets in) and also went to my mom's to pick up some mail, a container to marinate the pot roast in, as well as the actual pot roast. Hanukkah starts on Wednesday, which is both weird and wonderful, so for dinner on Thursday, I'm making brisket, kasha, challah, latkes, and maybe rugelach (if I feel fancy). We're having "Thanksgiving" on Saturday at my mom's house with a bunch of her cousins whom I have never met, so instead of making Thanksgiving food twice, I decided to switch it up a bit. If anyone has a good challah recipe, send it my way! I've made it before, but I'm not in love with the recipe I've used, so suggestions are welcome!

And now here we are at work, but at least it's a short week! And now... on to the thankful!

Day 21: Something that's easy to take for granted
Oh, a million things. Health. Having a warm place to come home to every night. Having a loving family and the best group of friends in the world. Health insurance. My job. Having a refrigerator and pantry full of food, including not just the necessities, but fun things like dessert and snacks. Having a wonderful husband who shares all the best and worst parts of life with me. Being able to walk into a store and, within reason, buy whatever I'd like. Being a white, middle-class, female with a college and graduate education who has the academic and financial means to apply to medical school, as well as the ability to apply for loans to pay for it. Being alive.

Day 22: An expectation
This is a really weird question, since most of the time, people's expectations are anxiety-producing (much like everything else in my life, haha). But, I guess the expectation that's placed on me for which I am most thankful is that I am expected to show up to work and do my job to the best of my ability. It's expected that not only will I be here, but that I will be excellent when I am here. My work has engendered an expectation in my coworkers that if it needs to get done, Alison will do it and it will be good. It's a good feeling to know that people rely on you, and not only that, that they're happy with the work that you're doing.

Side note: I'm also thankful for the expectation of food and affection (mostly food) that my cats have of me. They're yowly communicative, little furballs but they love me (and Ken) and definitely expect and require us to care for them. Pets are the best.

Day 23: Something you've seen
The following photos are ones that I took on our honeymoon this past August. The coastline in Monterey is UNREAL. I need to go back there.

Ken and me at the Golden Gate Bridge
Bixby Bridge
McWay Falls
Elephant Seals in San Simeon
Mondavi Winery in Napa
Muir Woods
Muir Woods
The sea lions of Pier 39 in San Francisco
Random gorgeous coastline in Big Sur
Day 24: A physical trait you haveIf you know me, you know that I am the absolute worst at being kind to myself. Thus, picking out a physical trait for which I am thankful is tantamount to climbing Mount Everest for me. Sadly, I don't think there is a single part of my body that I haven't ripped apart for one reason or another. If I had to pick the one that makes me the least angsty or least angry or least sad, I would have to go with my eye color.

My eyes are blue, as are my brother's. Both of our parents have brown eyes (and are clearly heterozygotes, since they produced two babies with blue eyes) and people have always commented on my eyes. I've felt special for having blue eyes since I was little, and I often center my outfits and make up around them. 

Me, my blue eyes, and a giant margarita from Mad Mex
Close second for physical feature: My ridiculously pale skin, also featuring prominently in the above photo. Yes, that is how pale I am at all times. I don't tan, I burst into flames. Fortunately, my skin is (usually) well-behaved, so it looks pretty most of the time. Yay skin, thanks for keeping my insides in.

Day 25: Something you know
I took a whole class in college about how we know what we know called epistemology. It was horrible, mainly b/c the professor was terrible, but it was an interesting course. Anyway.

It's taken me awhile to realize this, and sometimes (read: a lot of the time) I still have doubts about it, but deep inside, I know that I will never, ever, give up. The path may change, I may go backwards for awhile, I may lose the path entirely and have to make a new one... but I have seen the bottom and if I can recover from that mess, I can pretty much do anything. I'm not saying that horrible things won't happen and that I won't be absolutely devastated and sad about them, but I have experienced what, for me, was the scariest, saddest, most horrible time ever in my life, the time where I was closest to ending it, and I have come back. I have built a life for myself that, most of the time, I'm pretty happy with when I step back and look at it all. There are a lot of things I want to work on and lot of things I still have to learn, but I know that I will never, never, give up.

What's something you "know" for sure? How do you know what you know?

What I know right now is that I need lunch. Have a good day, all!

- A

5 Days of Thankful

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Somehow I haven't blogged since last Thursday. How does this keep happening?! Well for one, I had an insanely busy weekend and part of it was consumed by a headache that started Sunday morning at 5 am. Until last night around 8 pm, I felt like someone was stabbing me in the eye socket with an ice pick. It's not a feeling I recommend. My friend's mom recommended that I see a pain management neurologist about some lidocaine injections into my neck, which sounds terrifying, but hey, I had cortisone injections into my spine, so what's the difference?

Anyway, let's be thankful for some things!

Day 15: An annoyance
I kind of call bull on this. Who is ever thankful for an annoyance? I guess if I had to pick something, I'd be thankful for alarms. Weird, right? In our old apartment, our smoke alarm was stupidly placed right outside of the kitchen, and even though we rarely burned things, even just excess steam or sometimes heat or maybe because it was a Thursday, our smoke alarm would go off and blare forever. Heaven forbid we actually burned things, because then it was nearly impossible to shut it up. Once, at midnight, it decided that it needed a new battery and since I'm a terrible adult who doesn't keep 9 volt batteries in her apartment, poor Ken had to go out to CVS in his pajamas to acquire a new one. Apparently, if you take the old battery out, there's a hardwired back up (which I guess is good in case your battery dies and your house is on fire). But man, super annoying. BUT, I'm glad that they exist, because someday, if my house is on fire and I don't know it, I'd like something to alert me to that fact.

Day 16: Something you own
Right now, the thing I own for which I am most thankful is this giant bottle of Excedrin migraine because it is taking enough of the edge off of this "icepick in my eyeball" headache that I can kind of, sort of, do work and not crawl under my desk and cry. On a more regular basis, I'm thankful for many things. Here is a selection:

- My car. It's beautiful and has an awesome, dark red, leather interior. Even though I have replaced more than a few wheels on it (stupid Philly roads + low profile tires + aluminum rims = sad Alison) it's gotten me to Florida, Ohio, New York, Maryland, and various parts of Pennsylvania. It got me to class in undergrad and grad school, and it gets me to work every day. It has handled snow and extreme rain, and it's allowed me to see my friends and family without ever having to worry about how I'd get there. It allows me to give my classmates rides home after class ends at 9:30 at night, and it gives me the freedom to pretty much come and go as I please. Also, I put the money down but my dad made the payments, so I now own a car and my credit seriously improved (because I was listed on the car loan). Win-win, I say!

- My bed. Oh man, do I love my bed. Ken and I bought a new mattress when we moved into our first apartment together because my bed from home was only a double and we wanted a queen size. It has a memory foam topper built into the pillow top and I am obsessed with it. It is the most comfortable mattress I've ever owned. I wish I was in my bed right now, actually. Only 10 hours until I can go back there....

- My phone. Like most 20-somethings, I'm probably definitely a little way too addicted to my smart phone. I didn't get a smart phone until a few years ago and I didn't really see the appeal at first, but now I am obsessed with it. Unlike most people though, I still use my phone to call people, and would rather call than text or email. Yes, I'm that annoying person that calls you, still. I'm not apologizing. My phone allows me to call my best friends who have been flung all over the country (Kentucky, Wisconsin, Florida, and Texas, to name a few places) and it allows me to stay up to date on my email, the news, and blogs (the most important, obviously). I use my phone as a calendar/day planner, it gives me directions (which is important, b/c I'm a geographical disaster), and it let's me pass the time on the bus or when I'm waiting in line. I use it as my Kindle when I don't have my Kindle Fire with me, I use it to look up random things that I need (like bus schedules or movie times), and I use it to write myself to-do lists and reminders. I seriously don't know what I'd do without it, but I can guess that I'd probably be missing appointments and lost somewhere in Delaware.

Day 17: A room
Over the weekend, Ken and I cleaned the condo, which isn't exactly an abnormal activity for us. Once a week, I dust, he vacuums the entire place (so much cat hair!) and takes the trash out, and I clean the bathrooms and the kitchen. We also usually end up doing a lot of laundry that day. If we have to skip a week, it's seriously noticeable and we both start to get antsy about the dirt. (Fortunately, we have similar levels of tolerance for clutter/dust, so we feel the need to clean at the same time, haha.) Anyway, I mention this because this weekend, we also finally got out proverbial excrement together and hung things on our walls. We have been living in our condo since early July and the walls were still woefully naked until Sunday. Also, the back of our living room was a random hodge-podge of furniture that really looked cluttered and weird, and there were two boxes full of pictures that had been hanging out behind the couch since we moved. We aren't even completely finished yet with the picture hanging, but man, things look SO much better! Our ketubah is up on the wall, as well as some of our engagement pictures, the Holstee manifesto, a still from the Alice and Wonderland remake, my print of Kissing the War Goodbye, and my signed poster from Joshua Radin. We are thinking of getting some of our wedding photos printed on canvas and hanging those as well, and I have a few collage frames that need to be updated before we can put those up. But now our living room/hallway looks so much nicer and it's so relaxing and warm to walk in there and feel like we actually live there. So... I'm thankful for our living room. Also, it's where we watch Netflix and snuggle with the cats, and it's also where we host game night, which is always a ton of fun. It also doesn't hurt that our sectional with the chaise lounge is there and is the second most comfortable place in the world (the first is my bed, duh.) Anyway, yay living room! We... live there now!

Day 18: A choice
I hate making decisions. It stresses me out. What if I make the wrong one? What if I ruin everything? Decisions usually send me into some kind of chaotic spiral of despair that just gets worse the longer I spend thinking about the decision. Choices are overwhelming. From ice cream flavors to shoes to what courses to take, choices mean decisions and decisions are stressful. One of the hardest choice I ever made was to leave med school, but that's not the choice for which I'm most thankful (although if I hadn't left Nova, I wouldn't have met Ken, and we can all agree that that would have been a travesty!) No, the choice I'm really thankful for recently is the choice I made to go back to medical school. Or rather, at least to attempt to go back to medical school. Nothing is certain as far as whether I'll get in, but I have a cautiously optimistic outlook on this application cycle. I'm proud of myself for realizing that this is really my dream, even if it seems totally insane. I'm thankful that I have the ability to make this choice, and that my options are only limited by my own drive at this point. When I decided that this was the path I was going to start down, I hadn't felt more like myself in ages. It felt good to finally feel like me (even if "me" felt slightly crazed). Now I'm in the thick of it and some days (okay, most days) I wonder what the hell I'm even doing, but I don't regret making this choice. Now I just hope it works out. Maybe ice cream flavors are easier...

Day 19: A book
I was literally just talking about my favorite books with my friend Jen yesterday. I'm sorry, I can't pick just one. So, without further adieu, here are my top ten non-fiction and fiction books:

Non-Fiction Favorites (in no particular order)

1. Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon
2. Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley
3. Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Dr. Atul Gawande
4. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
5. Let's Pretend this Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson
6. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by AJ Jacobs
7. White Coat, Black Hat: Adventures on the Dark Side of Medicine by Carl Elliot
8. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
9. The Undead: Organ Harvesting, the Ice Water Test, Beating Heart Cadavers -- How Medicine is Blurring the Line Between Life and Death by Dick Teresi
10. Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V. S. Ramachandran

Wow, I really like books whose titles use colons.

Fiction Favorites (also in no particular order)

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (all 5 of them... yes it counts as one book)
2. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
8. My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
9. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Day 20: Something about your significant other or best friend
I could probably write a whole blog about my best friends and why I love them and am thankful for them. I think collectively, my favorite thing about Ken, as well as my best friends, is their ability to make me laugh. Often, they make me nearly cry with laughter. Even when I am feeling absolutely horrible, these people can make me smile, if just for a moment. They provide me with such joy and remind me that life doesn't always have to be so serious. They're the best, basically.

And now, I'm off to work on a hundred things for the rest of the day. I'm planning some fun posts coming up in addition to the last 8 days of The Thankful Project! Have a good day, everyone!

- A

The Thankful Project Limps Along - Here, There, Everywhere

Friday, November 15, 2013

Still hanging on here! I admit that five days of not blogging during a monthly blogging challenge is pretty lame, but here we are. Let's get to the thankful!

Day 10: A memory
One of my favorite memories is the first time Ken and I took a vacation together. December 2009, we were both still in school (I was working on my MPH, he was working on his teaching certificate) and we were dying to get out of the frozen north. Also, I was seriously missing Constance and my dad, both of whom lived in southern Florida at the time. We flew to Fort Lauderdale and stayed with Constance, visited with my dad, and then when Constance was finished taking her exams for the week, Paul (her then-boyfriend, now-husband) drove the four of us to Key West. Key West is one of my favorite places in this world, and I was so excited to share it with Ken. Of course, the trip down wasn't without incident, as rain of Biblical proportions threatened to flood us out of our vacation. Thankfully, we made it there without dying!

Constance, Paul, Ken and I found a random bed and breakfast to stay in that was absolutely adorable and then we  headed to Duvall Street for dinner, drinking, and general relaxing. The rain of Biblical proportions had flooded most of Duvall Street, which made the wandering interesting:

Duvall Street is usually not this... damp.
 Somehow, we managed to cross the street and get to a place to grab a couple of drinks before dinner. After that, we wandered until we found a place without a wait for dinner, and then we bar hopped some more. We also saw this sign:

Ken gives 2 thumbs up to... invasive Lion Fish?
 We also saw a ton of cats (all descendents of Hemingway's cats!), ate some delicious desserts, and drank just enough to be silly, happy, and pleasantly buzzed. We ended the night in Constance and Paul's room at the B&B drinking sparkling wine out of plastic cups and laughing hysterically. Then, Ken and I stayed up really late talking about life, the universe, and everything, and I realized, holy crap, I wanted to marry this man. (Little did I know that he was realizing that he wanted to marry me, too!)

The next day, we ate Key Lime pie for breakfast (like adults!), went to the puppy store, ate ice cream, and walked around some more. I really wanted to mail a coconut to one of my friends, but the store was closed. Afterwards, we got ice cream and enjoyed the warmer, way-less-wet, weather and then got on our way back to the mainland. The rest of the trip was amazing, too, but that little jaunt to Key West is definitely one memory that I will always keep close to my heart.
Paul, Constance, Ken, and me at the southernmost point in the continental US!
What is one of your favorite memories? Have any of you ever been to Key West? Anyone ever mailed a coconut!? 

Day 11: Something you were taught
This one was pretty easy for me. At least once a week, I wish I could tell my Mom-Mom how thankful I am to her for teaching me to play the piano when I was a (very) little girl. When I was about 3, I took a definite interest in the upright piano at my grandmother's house. Even though I could barely reach the keys, my Mom-Mom always let me play and taught me how to treat the piano with care. A couple years later, she taught me to read music and to play with both hands at the same time. At 7, I started taking lessons with the son of the pastor where we were going to church at the time, but my Mom-Mom was always my biggest cheerleader when it came to my music. She loved to listen to me play and I loved going to her house and showing her what I had learned. Playing the piano opened up every other musical door for me and now, I teach piano to two adorable children who amaze me every week. I can't wait until we have room in our home for the piano that used to sit in my Mom-Mom's living room, and I can't wait until I can teach my own kids to read and love music like my Mom-Mom taught me.

Day 12: An opportunity
It's probably pretty weird that the opportunity that first came to my mind was volunteering in an Emergency Department in Camden on Saturday nights for 6 months while I was in undergrad. I applied and was accepted into the Academic Associate Program at Cooper Hospital, which meant that I gave up my Saturday nights from 4-11 pm on purpose. For those of those of you who aren't familiar with Camden, this map explains it pretty well:

Camden is labeled as "Worse than Detroit". Having never been to Detroit, I can't say if that's accurate, but Camden is not somewhere you want to be, especially not after dark, especially not when you are a small, probably-mostly-defenseless-woman. In fact, the rule for the program was if you were the 4-11 shift or the 11-6 am shift, you couldn't take public transit. You either had to drive and park in the garage connected to the hospital (no walking outside!) or you had to have someone pick you up at the hospital. They weren't taking any chances.

Sounds awesome, right? Actually, it was. I helped with a research project that had me interviewing dozens of patients per shift and I got to shadow lots of residents and attendings as they saw patients for various ailments from broken bones to heart attacks. I got to help with sutures, I helped reduce a dislocated elbow, and I watched a resident put in a chest tube for a young man whose lung spontaneously collapsed. I also unfortunately saw a lot of not so great things. Drug addicts came into the ER and got into fights over turf, sex workers younger than I was came in and were diagnosed with all manner of infections, and homeless men and women looking for a warm bed and a night off the streets all spent a few hours in the department. 

The most profound night though, was the night I witnessed a code. An older man had come into the department with belly pain. He had lymphoma, but he was walking, talking, and generally doing okay. Shortly after he arrived, his heart stopped. CPR was initiated. For 20 minutes, a dozen people, doctors, nurses, techs, worked on bringing this man back to life. Unfortunately, we lost and nature won. It was a sad night, but it is a night that will never leave me.

Sure, there were a few nights that I wished that I could be at home or hanging out with my friends, but I would never, ever trade that opportunity for anything. It gave me such an amazing experience and cemented my love of medicine and desire to go to med school. To this day, I think about my experiences in that ER and can't wait to be back there working!

Day 13: An ability
One thing that I pride myself on is my ability to read people. For as long as I can remember, I've been very astute at recognizing and classifying people's emotions and feelings. In more recent history, I've combined my ability to "read" people with my listening skills, and I now feel like I have become the default "therapist" for lots of my friends. I love that the people who I love the most are comfortable enough with me to share their feelings with me and trust me enough to tell me anything. I feel like even though I am a disaster sometimes with managing my own emotions, I'm glad that I possess the ability to help my friends work through their problems; it makes me feel useful and helpful, and like I can be a good friend.

Day 14: A blessing
Whew, where to begin. This week and the end of last week have been kind of nuts, but not for me, for a really close friend of mine. Her dad was having some trouble buttoning his shirt and finding words, so he went to the ER. As turns out, he was bleeding into the left temporal lobe of his brain. The doctors could find no reason for the bleed, despite multiple MRI and CT studies. Once he was stable, he was discharged. Apparently, a couple of weeks prior, her dad had had some swollen lymph nodes so the doctor told him to get them biopsied, which he did last Friday. Tuesday morning, my friend told me that her dad was back in the hospital and one of the doctors on their team had told them that the biopsy results came back as being melanoma. For those of you who don't know what that means, it's nothing good. Then, later that day, the doctors told my friend and her family that, no, never mind, we're not sure that it's melanoma, but since it might be melanoma that her dad needed to have brain surgery to see what was going on in his head. Tuesday night at 9 pm, my friend's dad had his skull cut open. Fortunately, there was not a gigantic tumor squishing his brain, the surgeon was able to remove the blood and blood clot left over from the bleed, and a few "suspicious spots" were removed to be sent to pathology. 

On Wednesday, I visited my friend, her dad, and the rest of her family. Her dad was sitting up in bed, being fed lunch, and he was speaking normally. It was so amazing to see a man who, less than 24 hours prior, had been unconscious on an operating table with his brain exposed, sitting up, asking for dessert. I didn't know him, but I wanted to hug him. I wanted to wrap my arms around that whole family and tell them that I loved them. They still don't know if he has melanoma, or what was in his brain, or why he bled into his brain in the first place, but it is a blessing that he is alive and can be home for Thanksgiving.

It is a blessing that I am, for the most part, healthy. Sure, my endocrine system is kind of broken and my immune system is whacked out, but I am alive and I can work and go out with my friends and participate in my life. My family is healthy, my friends are healthy. I have health insurance, so when I get unhealthy, I can easily go to a doctor and fill prescriptions. My health is a blessing, the health of my family is a blessing. I've just been remembering this a lot more lately.


While we're on the subject of blessings...

My first med school interview invitation has arrived!! I am so thrilled, I can't even describe it. When I got the email on Tuesday, I nearly hyperventilated at my desk. Less than 2 weeks after my secondary was received, I got this invitation, which I am taking as a good sign. Unfortunately, the first available interview date was January 24th because they only interview on Fridays and the numbers in each group are capped at a pretty low number. I did ask to be placed on a wait list for earlier interview slots if they open up, but I am not holding my breath. In the meantime, I have 8 other secondary applications to fill out (and pay for, ugh) which hopefully will get sent out this weekend. Things are happening! Ahhhh!

In other news, I am so glad that tomorrow is Friday. This week was seriously endless. I should also be asleep, as it's just after midnight, but Ken isn't home from the concert he went to tonight and his phone is off so I can't call him, and of course, I am convinced that he is dead in a ditch or has been abducted or something equally horrible. Thus... I will stay awake until he gets home. Fortunately, I have secondary applications, kitties, and The Book Thief on my Kindle to keep me company!

And now... a brief to-do list for school, life, and the weekend.

- Turn in microbiology paper
- Start researching for immunology paper
- Go to lab, get coffee, study for histology
- Get Madi a birthday card/small gift before her party on Saturday
- Make a "GO LEVI!" sign to hold during the Philly half-marathon on Sunday
- Figure out what time I have to be at the damn half marathon on Sunday (all I know is EARLY)
- Have lunch or dinner with Ken's dad sometime on Sunday*
- Finish secondary applications
- Get photos printed and into frames
- Hang things on walls (by which I mean "ask Ken to hang things on walls")
- Clean the bathroom(s)
- Reorganize the dressers
- Hanukkah shopping?

And on that note, I am going to go read or attempt to write a secondary essay or maybe I'll just sit here and snuggle the kitties who have taken over most of our queen size bed somehow. For you pet owners out there, do your furry ones do this to you? It's like they think they own the place.

Have a good night, all!

- A

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