Saturday, April 15, 2017

Quarterly Update

No matter how much I attempt to convince myself I have time for all the things I want to do in life, the truth is with my chaotic schedule there are not enough hours in the day and no matter how hard headed I am, I'm not capable of being super woman. Eventually things have to give and so often they are the same things: working out, cooking, sleep, time with friends, studying, cleaning, blogging, me time, and did I mention sleep? Leaving time for clinical hours and administrative work, the occasional dinner and drinks, 5 hours a night of sleep, and a few hours a week to maintain a relationship with a very patient and understanding man.
For me reality is life revolves around a stethoscope and vital signs. Perhaps I am a workaholic by the force of the culture and perhaps I'm a workaholic because medicine is my calling. In the end the reasons don't matter, at this point I live and breath medicine and my friends do the same. The perfect example: Once a week, a month, or every couple of months I get together with two of my favorite people to play strategy board games. Call it a guilty pleasure. When you put together 2 emergency medicine residents and a surgery resident (or 3 workaholics) it is hard to find a good time to get together. After cancelling multiple game nights and trying to figure out how to get together we finally decided on playing together while one of us was on call. The threat of being called away mid-game only adds to the fun surely and that is precisely what happened. Right in the middle of the game something more important came up(work) and the game had to come to an end. But no big deal for 3 workaholics, a few pictures of the board so we can easily start where we left off next time and we were back to what we live and breath.
Over the last several months, I have accomplished a great deal of feats. I spent a month in the Surgical ICU complete with 24 hour calls(more like 26 hour calls). It is a place where Emergency Medicine residents go to learn what they are made of. When you have been awake for 20 hours, 3 people are trying to die, traumas are hitting the ER, and you are left to your own devices you either panic or go through a great deal of growth. While panic seemed like a very attractive option, I chose the latter, strapped on the tennis shoes, put trust in my nursing staff, and figured it out. On the other side of the trenches comes some clinical confidence and the realization of the fragility of life. I watched young patients who ended up with life altering or life ending injuries while enjoying the things in life they love struggle in the unit and it was impossible not to sit back for a moment and wonder if I should be more careful, take less risks. This was a question that was brought up more than once between me and my co-residents for the month and we always came back to the same conclusion. While being more careful could possibly keep us from ending up in the SICU, life was unpredictable and not worth living if not lived fully. The cost for happiness is risk and sometimes pain(of the emotional and physical kind).
Since finishing up in the SICU, I have studied and taken my one test of the year, spent a month in the ER, helped to start a wellness committee for our residency, taken on new recruitment responsibilities, saved a life or two, and started this month in the medical ICU. I have just a couple weeks left before I return to the ER basically permanently and just over a year left before I finish up residency. So in the little free time I do have I have started to look for my first post residency job, wherever that is going to be.
It is certainly true that I spend probably 85% of my life working or sleeping the last many months, but I have managed to fit in some pretty wonderful things in that other 15% of my time.
In the beginning of January I went out on what I promised would be my last first date in Little Rock. Knowing I would be leaving the area in what will be almost no time and that I had, had terrible luck in the dating department it seemed like a good time to stop dating. I went into that first date with an "I don't give a damn how this goes" attitude. Perhaps that is why we had such a good time, but after a crazy few months I couldn't remember the last time I laughed that much in such a short period of time. Over the last several years I have done some short non-official dating, nothing super serious. It is fair to say as things started to progress I was a little nervous and afraid. Bless him for being so patient with me. All of me. My fears, my career, the fact I'm a terrible morning person(understatement), my need for independence, that some weeks make up and looking presentable aren't part of the allot time. Quite honestly this story deserves its own blog post and one day I'll write it. But with my track record who knows when that will come. For now I will say this, I have a type and not a great one. You can ask my sister and grandpa all about it. After some less than positive experiences, I was hoping to break my pattern and I think maybe I did just that. It takes a very special person to be accepting of this crazy life I live and all the things that come along with dating me, but somehow he acts as if it is nothing and loves me despite my chaos and quirks. There is something about having a relationship where we share decisions, help each other out, and expect nothing that seems to just work.  So that couple of hours I have to spare a couple nights a week are filled with laughter, stories, and plenty of sarcasm.
Outside of dating, I had some vacation time in March. I went home for a few days and was there to see my sweet niece, Merideth, turn 5. FIVE! I simply still in disbelief. When the hell did that happen? She has turned into the sweetest little girl with just the slightest attitude and so many entertaining things to say. Her parents deserve a pat on the back for creating and raising such an awesome little girl. She had a little Moana party. If you haven't seen the movie, see it. Adorable. She is starting to become independent and wants to spend more time with her friends than her aunt. As sad as that makes me, the time was bound to come and she still has a little time for me. I then made it over to see my other sweet niece and nephew. For those who don't know, Aurora is my 2 year old niece who kind of despise me. This trip was really no different, however I did get a single kiss and I have photographic proof she got close to me on her own accord.(I'm sure the birthday gift had nothing to do with it) My sweet little nephew is getting so big so fast, but I managed to steal some snuggle time with him. Hopefully he is a bigger fan of me than his sister is. My mom and I set the date for when she will be coming to spend the weekend with me in Arkansas this coming June. I can't wait to have a little mother-daughter time.
After returning to little rock for a few hours I jumped into the car with 2 of my best friends and headed south towards Austin. The reoccurring question I get is where I will go from here and the short answer is I don't know. However I have made some process and went from narrowing it from someone warm on earth to a few select cities: Austin, Nashville, Kansas City, and the Carolinas. However, I had never been to Austin before so having a few days off at the same time as my friends seemed like the perfect time to do some exploring. This also deserves its own post and I promise to write it, one day. Let's just say we had an incredible time and Austin is an amazing city. I can't wait for my next road trip with the best travel partners. Nashville here we come(eventually).
So one could say that I have been a little busy. I have quit being jealous of the people who seem to have figured it out and are able to do it all. Quite frankly they are either aliens or they let different things give. Instead I have started to work on giving myself some grace for not being super woman. The laundry will still be there, I still have my 20 minutes of me time in the car, and the internet doesn't shut down blogs just because it takes you 3 months to write a blog post.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Where I Stand

Over the last year, I have pulled farther and farther away from social media and from other people, as we as a society have become more and more disconnected by politics and hate. This is not where I will express my political beliefs and certainly not where I wish to debate who's right and who's wrong. What I do want to do is state where I stand as a person who is watching society unravel. 

To all my friends, acquaintances, and people I don't yet know: I stand with you. No matter your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, education level, or economic status, I stand with you and if you are being persecuted I will stand up for you. 

To the world: The last twelve months we have abandoned hope, unity, and community to take up hate/fear and pushed people toward conformity. Without our help, this world has enough pain and suffering. Our only chance at peace in our community and in this world is more love and human connection. So please for the sake of our world, the next time you find yourself at the ready to add judgement, intolerance, or more suffering to an already damaged society take a step back, take a deep breath, and for just a moment consider the other side, the other person's situation, and their pain/trials. Empathy, especially with those you don't agree with, always leads to more human connection and love. Divided we accomplish nothing and hate wins. 

In the end, we all are struggling through this painful and beautiful thing we call life together. As for me, I chose love, acceptance, and connection. I strive everyday to try to make even the smallest positive impact on the people I come in contact with. This journey isn't so ugly if we walk it together. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas Magic

This year would be a Christmas full of new traditions. Since the last time I was home spending Christmas day with mom, so many things have changed and with them our traditions. I'll admit that changing how I have done Christmas with that part of my family has had it challenges for me. Some things remained unchanged. We still put on our Christmas pajamas and made what seems like a trillion Christmas cookies(peanut butter with kisses are my favorite if you are wondering). I got the joy of getting ready and not leaving the house to go out into the cold this year. I haven't been home for a Thanksgiving in probably 4 years and so my mom made a huge Christmas/Thanksgiving lunch to help make up for it. 
My new nephew was born in November and I got the opportunity to meet him for the first time. He is a precious little thing and loves his nap time. Aurora turned 2 at the end of December and still is not a fan of me. I managed to bribe her out of letting me hold her for about 10 seconds for a picture before she started squirming to get away. 
My grandma joined us for cookie baking and gift opening. It was busy, chaotic day, but I think everyone got things they wanted and enjoyed their day.
Throughout the rest of my week home, I got to bounce around and spend time with my family. My dad is taking some time off of work and so we got to enjoy afternoons together. Chatting about current events and getting into heated debates. (sometimes I wonder where I came from.) It's nice to see him more relaxed and enjoying life a little bit. He has even joined snapchat which has turned out to be extremely entertaining. My evenings were often spent having discussions with my grandparent's by the fireplace.
My mom and I worked on getting me my new phone and got a moment to sit down and have a glass of wine together. Mid-week, I got in the car and started my trek towards Emporia for a sleepover with Merideth. It was a packed full day. I got my hair trimmed up, we snuck in a movie at the theatre(Passengers), and made a big dinner together. I have a real love for space movie. I find them quite beautiful and entertaining. I'm always sad to say my goodbyes, but on Friday morning we had to do just that, but of course we had a little fun first.
The end of my trip home was devoted to celebrating the love and success of my cousin Sheldon. Against all odds, he has grown to be an incredible man who married the love of his life on New Years Eve. I couldn't think of a better way to bring in the new year than celebrating with these people and my family. I remember my mom saying she would be leaving early around 9:30, but it turns out I was the first one to leave around 1am. It was incredible to have everyone there together and we had such a great time. There was lots of dancing and laughing. The venue was beautiful not the mention the bride. My grandma is most definitely still young at heart. One of our favorite parts of the night was discovering the photo booth. It became a family frenzy as we started taking pictures together. Oh I love these people. 
Even though I didn't make it into bed until a little after 1, I managed to get on the road back towards the south by 6 in the morning. Headed back home is always such a weird feeling. I am so ready to be back in my own space and sleep in my bed, but I feel incredibly sad that it is over. 
I came home to game night, laundry, and lots of rest to get ready to start my Surgical ICU month. One that has so far challenged me more than I could have imagined. After several weeks of struggling through the days, it feels good to remember how great life is and who I am. Sometimes Christmas is just magic.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adventure of a Midwest girl gone Southern

Christmas is by far one of my favorite times of the year, but as I have gotten older it has been harder and harder to spend any time with my family when it rolls around. This year, I was blessed with opportunity to go home for Christmas! My trip home would be a 2 part trip. First I would go home for 3 days to have Christmas with my father's family and return to Little Rock to take the the last part of my licensing exam to then return back home for a week long stretch. This is all about the first part of the trip.

For weeks, my sister Jamie and I had been counting down the days until we were able to get together for Christmas. I had had a very trying many weeks/months and there is something about hugging your family that helps with all of that. We planned to spend Friday night as a sister's night before doing Christmas on Saturday morning. I had initially planned on arriving mid-evening on Friday, but after realizing my sister would arrive late afternoon, I decided to surprise everyone and leave earlier. At 9 am, I packed up my car with gifts, a weekend bag, and a few on the road snacks. Over the years, I have come not to like fast-food very well and so instead of stopping I always pack snacks instead. It was a beautiful 52 degrees in Little Rock as I left my little apartment in the south towards colder weather. Midwest weather.
I started my trek north daydreaming about arriving to my grandparents. The look on my sweet nieces face as she first saw me and my first hug with my sister. Everyone's surprise of me arriving earlier than planned. With daydreams and my radio blasting, I had a blissful 6 hour drive towards home and this is where the phone calls start. First my mom calling me to let me know a storm was coming in and to be safe. Followed by father telling me the highway coming into our hometown had been closed down due to ice and accidents and to turn around and find a motel for the night. Turn around? Really? I'm 30 minutes from home. I'm determined to make it there. Tonight!
It is hard to argue with anyone who says I'm a bit hard headed. I'd like to call it determined instead. So I continue on, certain I will be able to make it home. This is not my first rodeo. I remember driving home on Christmas Eve one year in a blizzard with 8 inches of snow on the ground, I can handle this. But the further I got north the slower the traffic and the more it was obvious the highway was not only getting unsafe, but likely would not reopen. The pit of my stomach felt heavy and I was hit by a great wave of disappointment as I made the decision to turn around. At this point in my drive, I had had absolutely no issues, but my sister had made it to town and it had taken her hours to go a very short distance. I pulled off on the exit of a small no where town. Made a left turn to turn around and half way across the bridge, it happened. I hit ice. This has happened to me two other times in my life and turned out completely okay, because I knew what to do. I was a midwest girl who had driven in the elements often. But it turns out, I have been gone too long. Instead of doing the things I know to do, I panicked only remembering don't hit your brakes.
Sliding across into the other side of the road, picking up speed, it felt like forever though I'm sure it was mere seconds. The helpless feeling is very uncomfortable especially for someone who likes to fix things. My car slid until it hit the curb where it came to a quick stop. I remember being thankful as I sit there on the overpass that my car didn't hit with enough force to flip over the bridge. I got out of the car and slowly made my way to the front of my car to check out the damage and saw...nothing. I couldn't believe there was no damage at all. Getting back in the car, still feeling a bit shaky, I started driving ahead to try to make it to the motel. It is here that my whole car starts shaking. So much for that no damage bit. I pulled back over and get out again looking more closely this time. Realizing the damage was of the tire/rim. I had hit my bad news threshold. I wanted to be home by now after waiting weeks, but instead I was trying to make it to a motel, it was freezing(I despise the cold), and I have now gotten into an accident. I call my dad in tears, send him pictures of the wheel, and he books me the closest place to stay which is about 5 miles from me and with some faith I make it.
I remember sitting on the motel bed with my coat on for a couple hours waiting for the room to warm up and starving. I hadn't really eaten much all day and now I was stranded with no food. The tears had stopped but the sadness was very present. My sister sent me a request to facetime and for a few minutes we talked and laughed. She also hadn't made it to grandma's, but was safe for the night. The night hadn't turned out the way we had hoped, but everyone was safe. That's all we both could really ask for and we promised we would see each other tomorrow.
In the morning, I started to doubt that would really happen. I woke up to see the highway was still closed, the temperature was frigid, and the roads were still dangerous. Not to mention they were now calling for some snow to start early afternoon. My car was not safe to drive anywhere far and certainly not in this weather. I was at the mercy of other for help. I had started trying to decide if I should go pay for another night in this room when my mom called. "Jim is on his way with the trailer to bring your car back." My first though was concern they wouldn't make it safely and they should probably stay put, but Jim assured me he would see me when he got there. To say I was grateful is an understatement.

Jim and Colton(my mom's significant other and his son) showed up with salt and a plan. I had the very hard job of sitting in the heated truck as they maneuvered my car onto the trailer. I'm not great at being saved, at being the damsel in distress. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for people who help me in moments where I can't help myself that I can't even begin to express in words. Some feelings have no words that will do it justice.
We had no difficulties getting back and they had a vehicle waiting for me so I could rush off to my grandparent's to start Christmas. There is a deep seated tradition on how Christmas runs at my grandparent's that I hope never ends. In the morning, we get up together to open stockings, followed by breakfast, followed by sitting in a circle opening gifts one by one, and then lunch/cards/chatting/playing. I arrived right around 1pm on Saturday afternoon and snuck in through the basement door. As I opened the door at the top of the stairs, I saw my sweet niece looking out the sliding glass door waiting for me to appear. I feel incredibly lucky to be "Aunt KATIE" to this little girl. Quietly sneaking up behind her, I tickled her side and she turned out giving a great big smile and the excited "Aunt Katie" as she throws herself into my arms. I will be sad the day that she is too big to be picked up, which is likely approaching quickly.

The morning had not started without me. It had been frozen in time waiting for me to arrive. We opened our stockings together and then had quiche and biscuits and gravy at 1:30 in the afternoon. It felt like it went incredibly too fast. We played cards and shared lots of laughs. My sister got me a couple of different books fitted perfectly for the wandering soul that I am. Saturday night my brother left everyone with the bombshell that he was moving to Phoenix, tomorrow.  I know that we all hope he will find what he is looking for in the warm sun and we will all miss him a great deal.
By Monday, I had started to panic a bit. My exam was in Little Rock on Tuesday morning and I was currently stuck 500 miles away, but by noon I got the confirmation from Jim that the rim was fixed and I could get on the road.
My journey home was uneventful, thankfully. Tuesday morning came and I felt okay when I left the exam. It is a two day exam and I took the second part on Thursday.
Wednesday was my fun day back in Little Rock. With a bunch of help, I prepared Friendsgiving/Christmas Dinner for my family away from my family. It was hectic, but so much fun and the food this year was completely incredible. We totally outdid ourselves. I am completely thankful to being having this residency adventure with an awesome group of people.

My mini trip home brought the realization that this midwest girl has gone a little Southern. I like the warm weather and don't love the snow. I had forgotten how to drive in snow/ice and what 0 degrees felt like. And if I spend enough time around people with true southern accents, I'll pick one up too, temporarily. But it doesn't take very long for that midwest girl to come out once I get home and I'm still much more likely to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a football game than a dress or flip flops instead of heels. Some things never change.
Tomorrow look for part 2 of my journey home.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Begin Again

Stress, doubt, fear, exhaustion. The great thefts of happiness and peace. Thinking back over the last many weeks it is unclear exactly when the downward cycle started, but by the beginning of August I had fully entered survival mode. There was this shadow of who I am who got up every morning and walked through my life day to day. Standing on the edge of perseverance and overwhelmed. I struggled through many shifts and no matter how much I had accomplished or how many people I had helped it was always the struggling moments that went home with me at night. As I move from one level of training to the next, the change in responsibility and demands felt hard to accomplish.
My work, my calling is one of the most loved pieces of my life. While I would never say that what I do is easy or that it has always come to me naturally, struggling and fear were never part of the equation. So to add the fear of failure and sense of drowning to the largest sector of my life on top of life's other stressors survival mode seemed inevitable. The giggling, the helping the people climbing up behind me, the resilience, the happiness all slowly ended and I became the shadow. The nights that my sister and I texted back and forth about how exhausted and sad I felt are difficult to count and I am so thankful she was willing to keep hearing the same fears and struggles day after day.
Sometimes when you have spiraled so far down it is almost impossible to swim back above water. I was spending my days off catching up on paperwork, sleep, and laundry. After a very trying night at work, I had hit a wall. At 2 in the morning, I was falling apart by myself in my very quiet apartment. Saved by one of my oldest friends/sisters who reminded me who I am and what I'm capable of. I knew I needed to do something to get back to being me. To recharge. To begin again.
I had vacation time coming in August and somehow through the grace of the scheduling Gods I got 12 days in a row off. And this scheduling blessing led to 2 incredible weekends home and 5 beautiful solo days in Colorado. There is something about lacing up my hiking boots and setting off alone into the trails. No cell phone signal, no city noises/music, no distractions. Pushing myself to go farther, climb higher, and be present in that moment. It was during those 5 days in Colorado that I found peace and started the climb back up in my life instead of continuing the slide down. Not saying that there weren't complete moments of panic that I was going back the other way, but no path to success or recovery is a straight line.
And so I'm back to remembering why I took this long path to spend every day doing something that I love and remembering my worth. Setting limits with people who drain my energy, protecting myself more, and spending time doing the things that I love.
Last weekend I made the trek home for my grandparent's annual Apple Cider Party. It is by far one of my favorite days of the year. There is something wonderful about homemade Apple Cider. My sister's family and I had a big sleepover in my grandparent's living room and it brought back lots of great memories and giggling. It was only missing a little Simon and Garfunkel.
My biggest new experience was learning how to shoot a gun this weekend. I had Sunday off and it was the Chiefs bye week, so a group of us drove up to the Griffins' for the day. I shot a couple hand guns, which I think it is fair to say I'm still a little afraid of and a couple of shotguns which I really enjoyed. I can't aim a shotgun very well, but I like to shoot it. We had a huge, delicious dinner and finished the night off with a fire out by the pond. There are few things in this world I enjoy more than sitting next to a fire with a few of my closest friends having a couple drinks.
In just a few days, I will be headed to Vegas for the first time and next month I will be taking the last of my step exams. It is hard to believe the end of the year is sneaking up on us. But for now, I'm going to enjoy this gorgeous fall weather and some homemade Apple Cider.



Thursday, July 7, 2016

Growing Pains

Just over a year ago with the fluttering of butterflies batting their wings frantically in my stomach, I walked into the Emergency Room as a physician for a first time. I was excited, afraid, and feeling just a little out of place. 365 challenging days later, I walked into that same Emergency Room as a Second Year resident. An "upper level." My intern days were over and for the first time it would be my responsibility to run the department and try to help out our brand new physicians when I could. I would occasionally be sitting in the "co-captain" chair as Skarda would say for the first time. Our department is split between the "bread and butter" of Emergency Medicine(abdominal pain, headaches, broken bones) and the super sick or traumas of the ER. The Co-captain chair is where the upper level resident running the super sick side of the department sits. Or really just where he/she places their things while they bounce from room to room and run down their to-do list while not sitting.
Day 1 as an upper level gave me the false security that it wasn't going to be bad at all. Followed by day 2-4 where I left each day with unfinished notes, a growling belly, and the ache of exhaustion. The truth is I absolutely love it and I find myself feeling super happy every moment of the day whether at work or not. Everyday is a new challenge and I'm pushing myself to be a better physician with each patient. I enjoy being busy and I enjoy providing a little mentoring to the new medical students and interns in our department. It's a whole new experience and so much more challenging, but I look forward to every moment of it. The exhaustion and all.
After my first 5 shifts as an upper level, I struggled through 3/4 of our morning conference after a night shift before passing out for 12 hours. I have become terrible at answering phone calls and text messages in my frenzy of getting things done and apologize to anyone who I texted back at obscene hours of the morning. With my first stretch of shifts in the books, I am off for a few days which I'll be using to clean house, work on some projects, and settle into some studying. I am planning on getting my dining room table, where I have studied for each and every important exam, set up for daily studying for the next several months. I prefer to eat out on the balcony anyways. I am also planning on relieving my itch to do a little baking that I get from time to time. Seems like the perfect time to make some homemade breads or a cheesecake. And I definitely foresee some of my homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies coming out of the oven and onto the porches of all of my colleagues making it through ICU months right now.
Towards the end of the month, I am going to relieve my itch to go home for just no good reason. Stopping in Branson on the way to see my mom while she is out camping and then making my way towards my hometown that evening to spend the weekend just kicking around. Sometimes I just get the urge to sit around the table and just chat especially with my grandparents.
I may be going through some Growing Pains and exhaustion with my new responsibilities, but life is wonderful and I couldn't be happier. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

26? Are you sure?

One week ago, I arrived back in Little Rock after what is always an entirely too fast couple days at home. And last week, I sit down and recorded a beautiful love story. A story that I felt deserved its own blog post. This blog post is to highlight all my other adventures.
I want to take you back to a month ago, mid-May. Costumed in a baggy set of Ceil Blue scrubs, hair pulled back, no signs of make up(or life), and completely worn down, I drove myself home in silence after a hectic day of Trauma surgery. This is unusual for me, as I am an avid music lover. I typically spend my car time singing(sometimes at top volume) to whatever music fit my mood. But that night, silence was the only thing that seemed to make sense. I had turned my phone on do not disturb as I had walked out to the parking garage. At 17 days in a row and staying late the last 3 night including that night, I had put in my dues. I was feeling overwhelmed, defeated. The combination of being sleep deprived and emotionally exhausted is a great breeding ground for questioning all life's decisions. You know what else is perfect for breeding a mini-quarterlife crisis? Turning 26.
As I drove my familiar path home, I mulled over my life and where I thought I would be at 26 which was looming in the near future. I think it is important to note that my upcoming birthday isn't what had led to my overwhelming emotional state, it was just the perfect gasoline to add to the fire. I never thought I would be the person who got weird and upset over birthdays and that thought only made me feel worse. It's not that I think I'm old, its that I had plans and an image of what this time in my life would look like and life isn't exactly cooperating.
Now this is where when I share this struggle well meaning people say, "but you're a doctor. You've done so much." I'll let you in on a secret. I'm not just a doctor. Now don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do and if I could go back and do it all again I would repeat the experience in a heartbeat. It brings so much joy and meaning into my life. There is just so many other things that I want to do with my single lifetime and the fear of my golden years slipping away became very real in my complete exhaustion. I thought I would have had it all figured out by now. That I wouldn't care about what anyone else thought and I would always do what I wanted to do without factoring in outside opinions. That I wouldn't let fear, anger, or frustration get in the way of my potential, happiness, and love. And when it comes to love, I was going to be in head over heels love, with myself. I was going to be well traveled, well rounded, and never give into my emotional distresses. But here I was, looking like I had just worked 17 days in a row on the surgery service having a complete meltdown. A sobbing and struggling to breath kind of meltdown over who knows what. Mourning all the things I thought I would be by 26 and being frustrated that I had let so many things block my path. More importantly, I had spent so much time standing in my own way. I was mourning all of my wasted time.
I am no stranger to having some emotional moments and in our culture there is so much pressure to be perfect. To never breakdown, never cry, never appear weak. Well I for one gave up on the fight against having feelings a couple years ago. Now my rule is to lean in and feel what your feeling. Give in to your occasional weak moment, cry, laugh, mourn, shut down. Whatever it is that is happening, Lean In. The good and the bad. Feelings and experiences are what give our life meaning and leaning in allows you to process and grow. So I went straight from my car, up my 2 flights of stair, and flung myself into bed hitting my fan on the way and leaned in. I let myself have my moment and as so often as it happens with me, I woke up in the morning feeling better. I swear by a good night of sleep.
26 was coming whether I wanted it to or not. I had to go back to work the next morning at 4am whether I wanted to or not. Life was going to keep rolling on and I didn't want to be left back here mourning my wasted time and wasting more time.
Spoiler alert: I survived trauma surgery and turning 26. Actually I looked fabulous on my birthday. After not wearing make up or anything other than those terribly ugly ceil blue scrubs for a month, I got up early and dressed to the nines. To my complete surprise, my joints didn't start aching and my hair didn't turn gray. I was reminded I had incredible friends. Kristen who tried her hand at making Strawberry Cake for me and others who joined me for dinner at my favorite place for chicken tacos.


Two days later, I had packed up the car and headed north. Texting my dad on the way to warn him that the tags on my license plate had been expired for the last 3 days and I needed to take care of that as soon as possible. I managed to arrive in town, pick up my dad, get my car inspected, pay property taxes, and license my car in just under 90 minutes. I was surprised with my not so little baby brother who decided to drop in for the anniversary party as a surprise. For complete anniversary party story see post from last week.
Friday evening, I spent running around town picking up things for the big bash. I sneaked in a couple of wonderful breaks. I was able to join my mom for dinner while she was at work and get a little one-on-one mother daughter time. Something we are just starting to have as I am getting older. And I spent a good hour on my favorite patio in the world telling my tales to my grandparents as they listened, laughed, and cheered. If anyone knows me, they know that I can talk and talk when I get on a roll.
Saturday morning was equally busy, but it brought the wonderful sight of my gorgeous niece Merideth. I think we are both equally happy to see each other every time I come home. She brings so much joy into my heart. Sunday morning, I got to enjoy the completely fattening and delicious breakfast that is offered at the Big Biscuit. Merideth and I worked on building a tower out of jelly packs while we waited. She is definitely getting a few of her mother's organizational habits. Grape first, then orange. Orange in with the grape jelly is just blasphemy.
One of my favorite parts of my visit is my mother's home cooking. I grew up on this stuff which is probably why I was a very chubby pre-teen and teenager. It is delicious. I caught up on my gift giving as I missed so many holidays/birthdays. And to my complete delight, my much younger niece has now decided she no longer hates me. I moved away when she was about 6 months old and so my visits home over the last year have been awful for us both. She doesn't remember me and isn't a fan of strangers. Her go to move when being handed to me has been to nose dive towards the floor, because a closed head injury would be much better than being held my whoever this crazy woman is. But not this time. This time I gave her a smile and a wave and she came running. She was all about being held and we spent tons of time walking around the yard together. Actually she's more of a runner these days. My name is even one of about the 10 words she will say, though I'm not sure she associates it with me. She is such a sweet, curious little girl growing like a beautiful sunflower. That's right my nieces don't grow like weeds, they grow like sunflowers.

Since I've been back, I've been putting in my time at our local community hospital and have managed to get aboard the medflight helicopter once so far. It feels great to be back in the ER taking care patients. With a sense of autonomy and the occasional medflight interruption.

This past weekend, I attended the residency graduation for our 3rd years. It is such a bittersweet moment. For me, not them. They are moving on to the next big thing in their lives, done with training. But as for me and the rest of us staying behind, we are going to miss having them around.
It has truly been 1 year since I made my move south and it has been a whirlwind. I can't believe it is almost over and the next level is waiting for me. As a newly 26 year old EM resident, I have made a couple of promises to myself after my little cry in May. This year I am going to give in to my spontaneous side more and worry about things less. I am going to live up to my full potential and quit being okay living as things are right now. I am going to love myself more, give myself a break, and accept things out of my control. But mostly, I am going to start taking advantage of each day and whatever it is I am wanting to do with it. Even if that means letting myself have a day of sitcoms on the couch. It's okay, I get to be lazy sometimes too. Here's to 26!