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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