Category Archives: Diary

On Doctoring: A lesson from a patient

I spend my days, and often my nights, in the hospital caring for patients – or so I think. As a physician, although I’m providing the care, more frequently than not I come out of the interaction  feeling that I gained much more than I provided. 

Today, I encountered an elderly gentleman who accosted me with a cheerful ‘Good morning, young lady!’ This was a patient with metastatic cancer who was admitted with a urologic emergency, bound to his bed and frustrated as a child who’s stuck indoors during recess. 

 He asked, “Did you win the lottery last night?” 

I clearly did not – I wasn’t sure where he was going with this.

“Your smile is glowing all the way down the hall,” he remarked.

I gave credit where it was due – a bright sunny day, a hot cup of coffee and finally, enough sleep at night. 

Mr. A, however, had another thought.

“It’s all in your head, young lady,” he said. How could the sun be in my head, I wondered.  What he said next may just be one of the most profound things I have heard in a very long time.

The sun is always shining, he said. The sun is always shining. It’s up to you to rise above the clouds to find it.

Now how’s that for a doozy?

N.b. The photo is from our trip last year to Yosemite, halfway up the hike to the top of Yosemite Falls. 


To live is to fly

2014 was a tough year for the world. Ferguson, ISIS, Syria, Israel – havoc was unleashed on our brothers and sisters all around.

The year was an up and down one for me and mine as well. As always, the balm for my soul has been my garden and my music. The garden is dormant, as you can imagine, but music – ahh, the music is always alive.

Here is a song that soothes my ruffled heart.

To live truly is to fly.

Looking in the cracks

It’s so easy to let life pass you by – to let small things weigh you down, to miss life as it’s happening. There’s a story I read in 9th grade English called ‘The Falling Girl’, a parable by Dino Buzzati warning heavyhandedly against the mistake that we all make.

“‘You have your entire life ahead of you,’ they told her, ‘why are you in such a hurry?’
…She made an attempt to answer but the force of gravity had already quickly carried her to the floor below, then two, three, four floors below….”

Life has been like that lately. Working long hours has me in the doldrums, often making me forget that there is life outside the hospital. I spend time in my little gardening space, often daydreaming about a big flat yard in the South where I could grow to my heart’s content. But really, I know I miss so much of my life by doing that. It’s the little things: the one new budding leaf on a tomato seedling, a tiny dandelion bud, a bird perched on the feeder, readying herself for warmth and new life. THAT is life. THAT is why life is worth it.


Life seeps through broken concrete and under rocks. It happens in spite of us, in spite of itself. Celebrate it, love it, live it.


Happy Easter!

A happy and beautiful Crocus!

“…Then from my heart will young petals diverge, As rays of the sun from their focus; I from the darkness of earth shall emerge, A happy and beautiful Crocus! Many, perhaps, from so simple a flower, This little lesson may borrow, Patient today, through its gloomiest hour, We come out the brighter tomorrow.”

from Smiles  by Miss H. F. Gould in The Poetry of Flowers, 1832. >

Time for a new year!

As most of you know, last year was big. Moving to pittsburgh, going on a cross country road trip, and starting residency were huge. But here we are, and life is liveable again.

Last year also brought some fun DIY-ing into my life, and probably the biggest thing of all was my little garden. It’s time to start thinking about my spring garden, and I’m so excited about it!

Over the next few days, I’ll post a few pictures from last year’s garden, and this year you can follow along with me!

For now, here’s a picture of icy pittsburgh for you.

Cheers – and here’s to 2014!


Welcome to those of you who are new to my blogging world! For those of you who’ve been subject to my rants and raves for years, here’s the good news. This is the all-new, long-awaited mega-blog. Recipes, poetry, medical ramblings, book reviews, music reviews, photography – you name it, you’ll find it here. I’ll be slowly importing old posts from the other blogs. Suggestions and guest posts are always welcome, so contact me!

Memories in a bottle

Music has a remarkable way of holding on to tendrils of our subconscious selves, inextricably linking itself with experience and existence. It’s funny how music becomes part of experience as well as part of the recollection of experience. I’m sure we all have particular experiences permanently associated with certain songs or artists or albums, and as an exercise in catharsis I thought I’d begin to share some of those experiences.

Now as a warning, neither the song I am about to discuss nor the experience it is linked to is particularly appreciable or even acknowledgeable, in the greater scheme of things. But to me it was a defining moment, and this song is forever marked with the events of a day back in high school.

Geek that I was (am?), I went on a little trip to Cleveland in 10th grade for a national medical competition. I had qualified for the spelling bee, and I have to say I was definitely looking forward to the trip and even more to the competition. All the qualifiers from the entire school district met up in the airport, and I discovered, to my great chagrin, that there were three girls and three guys. The inevitable pair-up was going to happen and I was definitely going to lose. And naturally that did happen, seeing as how one couple was already in existence, and I ended up being consistently left with the nerdy dungeons and dragons fellow who really didn’t care to befriend me. I just wanted company, but ended up being left pretty much alone. In reality, that was okay with me, but it was high school, and that’s just not how things work.

So here’s getting to the point. The night after all the competitions were over, there was a dance. Chaperoned, of course, but a dance nonetheless. I begged for permission to stay in the hotel room and read a book, but permission was denied and I had to go to the dance. I had never been to any sort of dance before, thanks to my previously sheltered existence, and was therefore overwhelmed by the dim lights, loud music, and the crowd. I went and sat in a corner and was admonished by my teacher, told that I had to go and join the crowd or else. So there I was, thrown for a loop.

I joined the group that I knew and was promptly ignored, as was expected, and then came the song. ‘Genie In a Bottle’ by Christina Aguilera. One of the worst songs I know. Catchy, I know. But a work of art? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Well, that was the song that everyone enjoyed the most, and the one that proved to me, without a doubt, that there was just no place for me in this world of loud lights and flashy music. The other girls were on top of their game, slithering and slinking and being as genie-like and Christina-like as 16-year-olds could possibly be. I tried, for a few minutes, to be part of that, but just couldn’t bring myself to it.

Now I’ve found my world, I’ve found my skin and I’m happy with it. But that song still fills me with a sense of inadequacy and – dare i say it? – shame and embarrassment. The reason I bring up this whole story is not to talk about Christina Aguilera or about high school drama. It is to show you how powerful music can be. I can’t quite remember the faces of those girls that made me feel like I was so much less than them. I can’t remember the names of the boys whose appreciation I also wanted. I can’t remember the ballroom of the hotel very well, and I can’t remember anything that happened in that trip except that I won that spelling bee and brought home a huge gold medal. But my mind hasn’t forgotten that song and the power it has to make me feel all of those emotions again. Music is a powerful thing.