Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Random fairy tale tag


Fairy tale inspired ask game from here modified into a blog tag, because why not. Please jump in if you like questions or fairy tales and answer in the comments or on your own blog. XD


via pinterest

Which item would tempt you most? A golden comb, an embroidered belt or a gleaming red apple?
Mmm...embroidered belt. You wouldn't even have to ask if you knew how many scarves I have and how it's a standard joke in the hospital how I won't eat anything while at work. 

They think it's because I'm a germaphobe. 
 You know it's because I know how the Underworld works.

Are you more the type to cut off your braid and wear an armour to save your princess or the type to give up your royal privileges to run away with your beloved maid?

 *considers* I'm rebel-child enough to have concerns about royal privileges from the start, unless we're talking spiritual adoption into the kingdom, which privileges I don't plan on ever giving up, and considering my current endeavors, I guess I'm more the first type. But hey, where does the cutting off a braid come in?? I can have a braid and save a prince or princess or maid or random person too! 
*mutters about third options* 


When picking a suitor, would you test their wit, their intelligence, or their kindness? (Bonus: how?)
*snort* Why is this hypothetical? I test all three plus more when picking friends, let alone anything else. 
I usually use the drastic test of holding a conversation
Make me laugh, impress me, and touch my heart, all while using correct grammar, and I just might kiss you...
 
You’re send out to save your kingdom from a cruel king. The journey will lead you through dangerous woods and unknown lands - which animals would you ask to aid you on your journey?

Oooh...are we talking currently living or legendary? Can I just ask all the animals to help me? If I'm not limited to ONE, then why wouldn't I get all the help necessary?
Though, I mean, depending on the medical state of the kingdom, the easiest solution here would probably making friends with a mosquito or a tick, and convincing them to give him a disease. 

Admittedly, a snake would probably be faster, but also more noticeable. 
 
What stayed with you most from the fairytales you enjoyed as a child? Can be a quote, a detail, a character, a moral or a whole story ark. 

via google
I think overall the aesthetic, more than any particular piece. 
Though I remember one about a girl who went to work cleaning house for dwarves as she tried to care for an ailing mother, and always did a good job, but once was very tired and did not sweep under a rug. Her conscience did not let her leave the shoddy work, though, and she came back in the middle of the night to truly finish the job, only to find a bunch of gold beneath the rug. The dwarves all jumped out and gave her the gold and helped her and her mother because she always did such a good job. 
I have no idea why, but it's kind of hilarious how many times thinking of this story has made me go back and properly do a task, maybe just because I couldn't have a fairytale girl doing a better job than me. 
It was drastically moralistic and exactly the type of story to annoy me, and yet - y'know, sometimes that stuff sticks with you. XD
 
They’re all awful, but - in which castle would you rather be imprisoned? A castle filled with your loved ones in deathly slumber and surrounded by rose hedges - a glass castle at the end of the world, threatened by the cruel coldness of sun and moon who hunger for human flesh - a castle with a beautiful garden where every path leads to the same secret chamber dripping in blood? Why?

......the last one. I get a beautiful garden out of it, and who says I have to follow every path to the end? I can sit still for a very long time. 
Unless the glass castle at the end of the world will remain forever simply threatened. 'Cause come now. Not all threats mean something. Although...a glass castle would likely feel awfully fish-bowl to me. 

What poem would a kind-hearted mortal have to recite to entice you into revealing yourself to them?

Probably one that reveals their entire soul first and promises me at least the possibility of an intriguing friendship. XD
 
via google

At the faerie banquet - which food entices you to break the rule of never touching what faeries prepare to eat?
.......going off experience, it depends a) how tired I am b) how far into a 28 hour shift I am c) exactly how bad the shift is going d) how much worse I expect it to get.
If it's chocolate, I'm even closer to risking it all. 

A horrific beast has locked you in their castle. What character trait of theirs would sway you to look beyond that gruesome face and, eventually, make you fall in love?

 Humanity. The full breadth and scope of it.

As part of the Fae folk - What name would you tell mortals if they tried to find out yours?

*grins slyly*
Katherine Sophia Cole. 

*blinks innocently*
 
Would you rather live in the cool-glittering depths of the sea, the fragrant-green meadows or the pine-dark, blackberry-scented woods? Why?

....do I get to breathe in the sea? 
And why can't I live at the boarder of all three? If you've ever been to the Great Plains...all that open space spooks me a bit. I want some trees at the edge. But, much as I love pine forests and considered them my home as a child...I also want to see the sky, not just trees forever and ever. And I love the sound of the ocean, but also, "depths of the sea" - like are we talking pitch-black monster water? Like do I get to see things? 
I have too many questions about these options.
 
You’re a dragon. What do you hoard?

books and pretty things. and plants. and soft things.
hey, I'm a dragon. What wouldn't I hoard?


A cruel king asks to marry you. Which three impossible dresses do you ask for in exchange for your hand?

One made from the night sky with a belt of truth like Wonder Woman's lasso that I can use as I wish, and a crown of stars...
One made entirely from flowers with a new crop grown each day and a cloak made from a waterfall that allows me to give comfort and healing to those I meet...
One made of the harvest, brown and gold with fall leaves as accents, with shoes made from the autumn breeze and the preparation of the gospel of peace that allow me to travel anywhere in the world, and a comfortable sheath for the sword of the Spirit...


via pinterest
 
Which magical item would you want to own - A magic mirror, a heart-shaped book or a golden key?

.......that totally depends on what the golden key is to, what the heart-shaped book is about, and what the magic mirror shows. 
Like, a golden key to nothing is worth only as much as its weight in gold, while a magic mirror that shows me horrible things sounds like a bit of a nightmare. 

Which would be worse for you - if a loved one got transformed into a fawn and was thus vulnerable and mute, or if a splinter of a devilish mirror fell into their eye and made them cold and unfeeling?

What would be my odds of getting the mirror out of their eye? Or convincing them that if their eye offends they should get rid of their eye? XD 
I mean, if we're talking them turning into a serial killer, I guess I'd prefer they were an animal for a bit, because I could take care of them while I sorted how to fix it. 
If we're talking them being a jerk, I can probably work with that while we sort it together.
 
What scent would fill the air to hint that you’re near?

Right now...Lilac
Otherwise...Améline, Siano, or Moab
These have been strong favorites over the past three years. I tend towards true floral (like you're in a garden, not like you just opened a shampoo bottle), or something a little deeper and muskier, walking the line but not quite crossing over into cologne.
 
You leave the safety of your family’s home and go brave the dangers and adventures of the world. What do you seek - Love, Self-Fulfillment, or Glory?

Love fulfills self and leads to worthwhile glory. XD The greatest of these is love. 


 

Monday, May 18, 2020

Truth and Consequences




"Don't go into medicine if you must have certainty." 

The OB-GYN who told me this was a little late in her advice; I was starting clinicals during my third year of medical school at that point, and already saw no way out but through.  
("already" I say, as if those first two years were not the worst I learning experience I could imagine paying or getting paid for for in the 21st century, right up until I hit intern year.) 

But I'd known it since my first day in medical school, when they started the lecture with: "Within the next ten years, we'll find that half of what you're learning today is wrong. We just don't know yet which half."

My understanding of the uncertainty in medicine, in the art of healing, in the gray space between evidence based medicine and decades, if not centuries, of conflicting evidence, has only deepened since then. There is what we are sure we know, what we think we know, what we are sure we don't know, what we think we know that we actually don't know...and endless variations on that theme. 


I've been thinking of it more often lately, as I watch half-cocked studies being frantically shot off from China or Italy or New York, as I watch the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control give the medical world and the world in general recommendation whiplash, as I watch medical questions being politicized by a government that has already proven it can't run decent healthcare. I've been incredibly thankful to see how long my community, my hospital, and my friends have been spared a disaster like that which has overtaken hospitals barely hours away from us...but as I see the vitriol online and my intern asks me, "What do you say when people say this is all fake and nobody's sick??" I have almost wished I was in New York so I could say, "I am here. This is what it's like. I'm living it." 

But I'm not. Which means I'm left having to trust the people that are - seniors I worked under, who are now fellows in New York, getting pulled from their fellowship/career goals to staff hospitals...friends of my attendings, who are sending daily updates on the number of patients they lost...and total strangers who are writing IG and FB posts or frantic studies on what they're experiencing, as well as those who are losing theirs jobs, losing their homes, watching their lives fall apart while those around them viciously react to something they'd be far more willing to risk than the disaster in which they find themselves.

The part I am living? The things I can see? 
Oh, how much we do not know and cannot agree on. 
If I could get each neurologist or each oncologist in my hospital to agree on the same treatment plan for a single patient in conditions we know and treat daily, I'd think it was a miracle. The doctors I know and work with are in general brilliant, come from all over the world and from any number of cultures and backgrounds, dislike being told what to do, are both widely read and do their own research...but even when people follow "gold standard of care" and practice evidence-based medicine there are subtleties and minutiae that shift, physician to physician, patient to patient. 

In one section of the hospital, while official recommendations were that no one wear masks except under certain circumstances and the official administrative ruling was that staff could not wear their own masks, my attendings researched and purchased safe masks and helped their staff figure out what they needed while fighting administration tooth and nail. 
Others in the same section of the hospital took a look at the numbers in our area at the time, calculated their odds, and wore a mask only when going to see high risk significantly ill respiratory patients.
Our own comfort level with risks, with diseases, with treatments, with prevention measures, all influences how we interpret data and what we recommend to patients or follow ourselves.



Way back before that first day in medical school, sometime mid high school, I decided my required research paper was going to be on General George Armstrong Custer (I...have zero idea why. I really don't), and in a classic me move, I ordered every single book I could find on Custer via interlibrary loan and then started pouring through them. It wasn't terribly much later before I tossed them all back in the return pile, entirely frustrated by the fact that there was significant debate between historians as to whether or not, at the fateful Battle of the Little Bighorn, Custer had long or short hair. One stupid detail, but there were lengthy arguments in support of both options in multiple books.
"If they can't even decide on that," I demanded, "how can they tell me anything about his life?"

(The single interesting thing to come from that experience was reading Custer Died for Your Sins, which was rather fascinating. I eventually settled on writing about Infectious Disease Through History instead, and read The Hot Zone, which just about gave me nightmares, both of which things should tell you something about my eventual life path.)

For someone who wants to know, who wants the truth in myself, in those I love, in the world around me, living in what has been called the "post-truth era" (Oxford Dictionary's word of the 2016 year) tends to be frustrating. I want answers and I want them indisputable and I want them clear. Learning to accept how often the details might be unknown, the small pieces disagreed upon, the experts lacking consensus, even while we press forward and find we can save lives meanwhile, as we continue seeking the pieces that elude us, has been a process. 


"Truth. Yeah, what is truth?" a main character in my current WIP, A Gold-Starred Crown, asks, unconsciously echoing Pilate's question from two millennia prior. Something of a music-worshiping agnostic, he takes exception to the response of his chief make-up artist/costume designer, who was probably raised Baptist and very occasionally acts like it. But in the midst of the story's shifting uncertainty, she is sure about one thing, and that is the fact of Truth being Who, not what.

It's a brief, serious interlude in a chaotic, modern, musical retelling of Tam Lin, but I later realized it encapsulates some of the tension I've felt in the past year, living and working and being friends with both nominal and vocal 7th Day Adventists, Jews, Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, and atheists, some (many?) of whom have never met a practicing Christian. When to speak, when to be silent, when to reach out, when to hold back...it has been a roller coaster throughout, and not necessarily a fun or an easy one. I've struggled with how to grasp this thing I believe but don't always see, this thing that is to the Jews a stumblingblock and to the Greeks foolishness, and to share it with people who find it both. How do you explain faith to someone who wants scientific proof, how do you discuss holiness and purity with a practicing Buddhist, how do you present complete forgiveness of sins to a Muslim, and how do you do in 5 minutes while also learning medicine and taking care of patients? 

This Easter I was working in the critical care unit, missing Sunday services which were not even being held, sick of suffering and pain and the parts of life I couldn't fix and could scarcely even alleviate, frustrated entirely with people who claimed to be Christian and who were more impossible to work with (both spiritually and as a physician) than any of the others...
I had seen several people online mention the Sight and Sound Theaters Jesus production, and a friend sent me the link. That night I came home, too tired to go get in bed and sleep like a normal person, and started watching it. 

It was simple and sweet and restful and you're making it too complicated was the message that hit me. These people are on the outside...if they come close enough they can see there is something happening, but they're not seeing it, they're not feeling it, they're not understanding it. But this is a place where I can say, "I am here. This is what it's like. I'm living it." Where knowing Him is the piece that matters...because abiding in Him is how fruit grows, not by my skill or perfection or abilities. God gives the increase, not me. 

My personal experience will not be their personal experience...what makes sense to me may not make sense to them...where I see Christ most clearly may not be where they see Him at all. But who He is and what He does and how He loves - these things are unchanging. 
 Yesterday, today, and forever.
He is the Way in which we are to go, He is the Truth we seek, He is the Life we crave, and He is the Love that saves and keeps and perfects. 


He came just to find me, and He told me who I am...
He called me by name...
He left the 99 when you were the one
Yes, He left the 99 when I was the one...
the leper, the blind man, the deaf, and the lame,
the sick and the broken...He knows their name

  

 In A Gold-Starred Crown, the other main character struggles with her place in the music world, her place beside the band, her place in their fight, and knowing how her faith and her beliefs should affect them--and how they should affect her.

Maybe I had even been wrong about what I felt sure I should do. But if I believed anything, I believed the sense of justice that had felt so wronged before Rhiannon’s controlling poison had been given to me by a God who was just, and the hurt I felt for these boys I loved was felt to a far greater degree by a God who was love.
Maybe this was a fight I would not win, and maybe this was a disaster with the potential to drive them all even farther from the God I wanted them to know.
But I was still here and so were they and so was He, and right now, what else did I need?
 
There's the thing about Truth...if you believe it, you're going to live differently. I may not be able to live the perfect life or always say the perfect words or act the perfect way...but if I know the Truth, I have to live so that others can see it in me. Do I know how that looks exactly or what words I will say when I see my colleagues and Krishna or Ramadan comes up and Christ crucified is glaringly absent? No...but He knows. Both what I will say and what I should say and what they need to hear, and if I care about the latter, He cares infinitely more. 

What is truth?

That is a question that demands to be answered...because if there is no truth, or the truth you accept is wrong, the way you go will not be right and the life you find will not be eternal. You have to grasp hold of that, even knowing that, like medicine, there are pieces we can hold meanwhile, can manage to fumble through even when a half of it is wrong, and still save lives while learning so much of what we thought we knew is wrong. It's a picture of our finite minds attempting to understand the Infinite God, and when we at last see clearly, I think we'll all be surprised at exactly how dark was the glass through which we looked all our lives. But He is Truth, and He is capable of revealing Himself even to us, despite how we complicate and darken and confuse the issue.


I appreciate the Oswald Chambers quote, "Re-state to yourself what you believe, then do away with as much of it as possible, and get back to the bedrock of the Cross of Christ." We try to argue it all out and end up only confusing ourselves...sweep it clean and focus on that piece: 

Who is Truth?
 
What does the Lord require of us? Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. How do we know what those things are and how to do them? By walking with Him, like Enoch, as He becomes greater and greater and we become less and less, until we are not, because we have gone to Him. Erasure of self? Horrifying thought in a world that glorifies self as the end-all, be-all. Beautiful thought when we understand who He is and understand how great is His love for us and what it is to be perfected by the One who originally created us and a world without sin and destruction. Even more beautiful and more incredible, to realize that someday we will know, even as we are known--even if we struggle now, to see truth, to believe it, to comprehend it...someday we will see Him face to face.

Maybe don't go into medicine if you must have certainty. 

But knowing Truth, in whatever imperfect fraction and shadow we can comprehend it now, is the only way to reach that eventual full understanding and knowing that we crave. It is the only way to love those around us the way God loves them, and to be the light we are called to be in a culture that believes far more in personal than objective Truth.





Friday, May 15, 2020

Wow, so that happened...


My last post was January 1.




Five months. 

It's been five months, and in that time nation has risen against nation and there have been famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places. In some sense, this is only a continuation of what has been happening since the beginning...but in a very real sense many people in my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances have never before experienced the changes we have seen in the past few months. Particularly those surrounding that one little virus. 

I work in healthcare.

I was at an away rotation at one of the country's top hospitals, preparing to present two case reports at a national conference, when it started...and I got a front row seat to healthcare turning upside down, quickly followed by the country in general.

I have been absolutely buried in in information. Research on COVID-19, on drugs to treat COVID-19, on correct personal protection equipment, on ways to clean or make that equipment last longer, on policy changes, on patient care changes. Emails from my hospital, emails from my state, emails from groups of physicians around the country. I've spent hours discussing the transmission method, the true virulence, the odds of fellow residents dying from the virus and what we need to do or can do to to protect each other, I've been sent youtube videos on 5G conspiracy theories by acquaintances. I think every company I have interacted with in the past decade has sent me information about this virus, about their response to it, and what my response should be.




I have friends doing fellowships in New York City. I know nurses who volunteered to enter the worst of it. I have friends who have friends in Italy, in China, in cities across the USA where they have been working non-stop, where they have lost patients, where they have lost colleagues, where they are seeing things they've never before seen in medicine. 

My father has been furloughed, my older brother has switched his church to youtube for his sermons, and my sister is staying with my grandparents to help them out while she graduates high school with all her classes online. This month I was unable to go on a trip I've been planning for almost three years (do not speak to me on this matter). 


All around me I see people talking about this angle or that theory, this idea and that plan. At the same time...my hospital is a ventilator storage facility for the state, and it is also very rural. We have barely been touched up to this point and I think of Psalm 91 every time I look at a COVID-19 map and see the empty space surrounding my hospital.

I have been going to work, dealing with the same medical problems I always see, continuing to learn and glad I have another year to learn and grow while also realizing in new ways that I can actually do this, I'm diagnosing and treating patients on my own and I'm doing okay in that role. 



I'm still working on research with that other hospital where I did an away rotation; I am planning on applying this summer to fellowship (I'll be 11 years into my medical education by next year's graduation - what's another 2? XD); I'm preparing to be a chief resident next year. I'm working on the rewrite of a novel I hope to publish sometime this fall. I'm trying to juggle relationships as people grow up, as people grow old, as I change and as those I love change. 

In the midst of all that it has been hard to write - in my journal, in emails, in my novels, here on my blog. Everything has been busy and I have been tired and focus has been practically nonexistent. Finding time to explain the hospital and the illness and previous procedures and new medications can be difficult during normal times - trying to do this for multiple family members via telephone and repeated times at the patient's bedside while they struggle to understand without their support system is absolutely exhausting. It is hard enough to watch patients die - right now having to watch them die while trying to guess at the correct time period so that the emergency visitor policy can be activated and family can be at their bedside is heart-wrenching.

Meanwhile, everywhere I look I see an abundance of talk, and I have not wanted to add to that, to darken counsel by words without knowledge, while becoming increasingly frustrated that so few others seem to have that inhibition. Unless I have something to add, something new to talk about, some final answer, it seems stupid to discuss it. I hate seeing the lack of common sense, the lack of reading comprehension, the constant polarization and reaction to every daily change. It frustrates me to no end to see people jump at any idea without stopping to research for themselves, to look at alternative explanations, to rationally search out truth.


I've been wanting to write and I have been wanting to not write about the novel coronavirus, while feeling like it was too big a thing to ignore.




So...this is me, not ignoring it, not providing answers to conspiracy theories or toeing a company line, simply acknowledging that I am seeing devastation on multiple levels and thus far am unable to provide a solution. I've seen fear and selfishness and blind following of leaders who shouldn't have been given their position, but also creativity and sacrifice and dedication to a brilliant degree. The depravity of man is fairly well established in my book, and I do not expect the world to normalize anytime soon or to suddenly right itself of many wrongs. 

yes, that is the tea.

But despite that, I can't help but expect great things from humanity created in the image of God, to hope that those who claim His name will rally and become a force for good, and find myself excited about a future full of possibilities. I just finished rotations in critical care and night float, and am now leaning into another schedule change and a dozen meetings and presentations and case reports and posters and assignments and studying for the two boards I have to take, while I'm just far enough away from nights (which was a miraculous stretch of 15 days without a single Code Blue) that I am starting to think about writing again. 

Writing in my prayer journal to focus my attention as I pray, knowing that Christ dwells in my heart by faith, that I, rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height - to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that I might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Writing emails to connect with those in my family I can't go visit right now, writing blog posts to share the goodness of God, to share things I'm learning, to share snippets from my novels...

Because yes, also writing books. My short story A Gold-Starred Crown, newly re-written in the past year, has hit the no-man's land between novella and novel, and still has a ways to go. My Rewritten Fairy Tale Series (the sci-fi ones set on the moon) had an unexpected revitalization where The Little Mermaid and Little Red Riding Hood retellings were each mixed with various pieces of Batman & Robin (well, Batfam inspiration in general), and Sleeping Beauty got mixed with the story of Joseph (because a thousand years of dreams that come true is just asking to be a story).


I hope you are doing well, however wondrous or terrible your 2020 has been so far, and I do hope it has been going well. Let me know if you have prayer requests (you can let me know if you don't want the request/comment published) or if there is something you would like me to write about in the next few months.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in reading a brief reflection on these times and your place in them...

go here for a new book of Rachel Starr Thompson's, a reminder
to see the eternal regardless of our surroundings.
It's 60 pages and free/donation only.






Wednesday, January 1, 2020

At the turn of the year...


I don't know if anybody else reads other people's end-of-year reflections, but I think they're fun to write and writing always helps me sort the fullness of a year, especially in residency, so I did it again.  :) 

What did you do in 2019 that you’d never done before? 

- traveled to a country outside the US which was not Canada
- went on a missions trip
presented a poster (on prion disease...destruction of the brain....FASCINATING stuff...)
- had a Christmas party for some friends
- intubated a child
- successfully led the code blue team at my hospital (also unsuccessfully a few times, but...)
- did a rotation in the pediatric intensive care unit and survived
- worked as the senior in July and managed to keep everyone, including the intern, alive
- arranged an away rotation for myself at a hospital I've been a little in awe of ever since I was a child, and the story of whose founding I've always loved
- had 2 posters accepted at a national conference
- finally realized someone had a serious crush on me, despite me spending months convincing myself it wasn't actually a thing. unfortunate, that.
- presented Grand Rounds, during which my computer nearly did me completely in
- beat all my records thus far for # of patients seen in a year
- sent Contract to Time Travel to my favorite editor...who is being very patient with my hospital hours and insanity- began working towards applying for fellowship



Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make one this year?
See here what I do instead of make resolutions. [201820172016201520142013,
 2011]

I think this year is the closest I have come to seeing my life actually shift in response to focusing on making a particular word real in my life. It has been amazing.


What countries/states did you visit?
...Two states. And then the El Salvador trip and finally swimming in the Pacific Ocean. It was beautiful. 



Did you move anywhere? 
I helped my mother move this week, but I myself have been in the same place for 3 years and oh, you guys, it's my place now and I kind of love it. Even knowing I have only 18 months left here. XD


What was the best month?

I'm going to say February because the El Salvador trip was just insanely brilliant...but July was pretty awesome as well for seeing God work in front of me. 


Did you suffer illness or injury? 
I took one sick day because an airplane supposed to get us out of El Salvador vanished, but other than maybe a single bout with sniffles, I remain incredibly healthy, for which I am incredibly thankful, considering the kinds of things I get to see on a daily basis. The ways people find to die...


Where did most of your money go?

Ohhh, car payments, apartment rental, horse boarding, and attempting to pay off school loans. Fun stuff. 


What was the best thing you bought?

Hmmmm...y'know, the thing that sticks out is a wall hanging I bought over the summer - a big tapestry map of the world that is perhaps chintzy and cheap but it really was the start of making my apartment my own place and every time I look at it I'm a little bit happier. 


What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

...let me repeat what I said last year, because it is still true. Doctoring. Making big life changes. Stories. People. Watching God work.


What song/album will always remind you of 2019?

....a really weird combination of Delta Rae's Run - it has some very...interesting...lyrics, but this verse and the feel of the song as a whole I adore: 

I wanna run to feel again, to be no one
To run under the stars of Orion
And all my life I've been burdened by the dreams I've had
Now I wanna run
I wanna run

and this song: 




The idea of peace and freedom and flight and learning to follow after Christ fearlessly because I get to follow Him...I listened to both of these songs an absolutely insane number of times this year. 



What was the best book you read?

This year was absolutely horrible from a reading perspective. I tried getting some new books from the library and found myself incredibly disappointed in all of them (or, I expected little and found nothing at all was better than I expected). 

Even my Bible reading plan was very difficult to use and while theoretically I liked it (and it got me through the entire Bible plus Psalms for a second time), I found it hard to keep up. Overall, there was a tragic dearth of incredible stories this year.

Looking over my list of stories read or movies watched...they may have had good moments or elements, but none were life-changing, which is, I think, a higher bar the older you get. The best books I encountered were probably those not yet available for general consumption - so here's to 2020 being a year for discovering stories. If you've got any incredible recommendations, send them my way. 


Did you fall in love in 2019? 
*grins* This year is probably the closest I've come to falling out of love with a lot of things, and I took off the last 12 days of the year in an effort to fall back in love with all the things close in my heart. Nothing gets in the way of love like working 60 hours a week on your "easy" weeks. Which taught me valuable lessons about love. 
As did some other experiences slightly related to love. It's hard, sometimes, to love people with true love, and not to fall into the trap of "niceness" that masks problems instead of the love that covers sins. 
But I'm slowly realigning myself with truth and love and joy and I have hope for 2020. <3 


What was your favorite TV show/movie? 

This is another area where I was severely disappointed. Like with books, I tried a number and found myself uninspired with nearly all. 
The two that caught my attention the most and gave me the most inspiration were these two: 
a fantasy that dealt with faith and religion in a fascinating way


and one that did its absolute best to make me cry, while giving me inspiration for some stories that drastically needed it.




Unfortunately both had some serious issues with writing and editing, but...they at least caught my emotions, which was more than can be said for the rest of the dramas I tried.




Who was the best new person you met?  
I feel like this year was more a year of getting to know people better. Some people surprised me in a good way as I got to know them more, some people disappointed me, but in general I continue to realize that my initial impressions are usually incredibly on point, no matter what I might hope for subsequently. 


Compared to this time last year, are you:

1. happier or sadder? I will say that third year is light years better than intern year. I am more sure of myself in so many ways and it is good. But I have struggled with burnout so badly this year. Not fun, you guys. Not fun at all.
2. thinner or fatter? awk...y'know, this year I might actually be fatter. I've been eating indiscriminately the past few months and exercising not at all, and it's on my list of things to change for next year. Five pounds is five pounds and isn't necessary.  Though the fact that all my muscle has been replaced by fat is more concerning to me than a # on a scale. XD

3. richer or poorer? ....slightly richer than last year...my truck is almost paid off! but like with eating, I have actually spent some money this year, and I should probably watch it a little more carefully this year. Even though it's finally hitting me that I actually have money to spend for the first time in my life. (I just, y'know, OWE IT ALL because of school. lolll)


Did anyone close to you give birth?
I am now aunt to a nephew, as well as 3 nieces! XD He's an adorable little guy and already SUCH A BOY, which is hilarious considering he's only 2 months old. Hugging him over Christmas was delightful, and I'm still thrilled I got to run over to meet him shortly after he was born despite residency.

Did anyone close to you die?
There were two patients whose deaths hit me hard...one a patient I admitted overnight and ran to his bedside two nights later to find he had died in what I hope was his sleep. It stuck with me because of multiple patient care incidents and the tragic loneliness of a life lived apart, along with the incredibly failure of family, friends, and the medical-social-legal systems to find a way to deal with the elderly in this country. 
Another was a child I admitted, sent straight to the pediatric intensive care unit, took back on the floor two weeks later with plans to send home shortly, only for them to die during what should have been a simple procedure. CPR was successful, but there was no overall improvement. I was part of one unsuccessful extubation attempt, and a week later extubation was again performed with the child dying shortly thereafter. 

It's not, I suppose, that the other deaths don't stick with me...the family whose shaman told them the patient would die in the next 24 hours...the conversations with a POA whose best friend of 60 years was slowly dying in the hospital, and having to call her up two days later to tell her that her friend was dead...the time I wrote three death notes in a single day...the two weeks where most of my patients died...


It's just some linger longer than others in the place that hurts.



What date from 2019 will remain etched upon your memory?

I think 1/1/19, just for the clarity of watching God answer prayers in a step by step, moment by moment way. The contrast between trying to lead a code on 12/31/18 and stepping aside to allow the attending to do it because I didn't think I could, and hauling off and leading one myself 24 hours later was pretty huge. 

If we are talking moments, one that is pretty strongly etched is standing in El Salvador in a chapel in which prayer has continued unceasing for decades, and having a young worship leader come over to tell me the vision he had, which matched up incredibly with things I had already seen going on my life. 



Who do you want to spend more time with in 2020?
People who make me more like Christ...I had a lot of fun with people this year...and I also spent a lot of time wishing there was a group of likeminded people I could fellowship with, because being the solitary Christian in a group, especially when there are those who claim to be various denominations but have no idea what are the actual tenants of their faith...I've had far better conversations with the agnostics I know than the rest, even though one pretty much told me I must be some kind of heretic when I tried to explain following God and His word as opposed to any particular "Christian leaders" and their interpretation of the text. 



What was your biggest failure?

The times when I let fear override faith. My word for the year was fearless and it enlarged my boarders and brightened my life so incredibly much - but that made the times I didn't hold to that word all the more painfully different.



What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I feel like a year isn't far enough to truly be able to say...but I think flying to another country and practicing medicine in another language was the biggest step I took. 



What kept you sane? 
This was an interesting year. 

Usually for this question I list off God, writing, friends, family in quick succession. 
This year was hard to the point that writing didn't come to me like it usually does. I wanted desperately to write and the creative part of my brain was so often not functioning due to sheer exhaustion and stress. 
My family was spun apart location-wise, and several members had horrible, incredibly disappointing, immensely stressful lives to deal with on their own.
My friends were pressed to the wire in so many areas of their lives I pulled back from falling on them probably too many times. 
Which leaves God. And it hurt, knowing that my writing, beloved though it is, can be taken from me so very easily. Knowing that if I depend completely on my family, blood or chosen, to give me strength and sanity, they will fail me and I will fail them. (They always gave me what I asked for...and I know they would have given me more...would I have drained them completely had I asked? I don't know.)
I don't necessarily believe in asking God why - we are the clay, He is the potter, His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts - but there were times I wanted to know why everyone around me was struggling so very much when life could surely be so much easier. What were they supposed to be learning, what good could come from it all...but we have reached the end of another year and all survived and I can only thank Him for bringing us all through. 


Valuable life lesson you learned in 2019. 
+ Don't be afraid
+ Just do the thing


If you had to describe your 2019 in 3 words, what would they be?

unafraid
exhausted
awed


What was your favorite compliment that you received this year?

Somewhere between this----->
because it is absolutely life-calling goals, 

and finding out staff in one section of the hospital had taken to calling me an angel, which cracked me up.



What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?
Prettiness. I have to say decorating my Christmas tree, hanging tapestry and photographs on my walls, stringing fairy lights, and filling up my house with plants made my life so very lovely.


What cool things did you create this year?

Mostly I think my apartment. Making things cozy and my place feel like "me" has been the best. ^__^ I am apparently moving forward on my childhood dream of living in a greenhouse and you don't know how thrilled this makes me. 


What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?ahahahah...exhausted. Second year was initially a little better...the past 12 months have been one long struggle with falling asleep as soon as I enter my apartment and sit down. 



What would you like to have in 2020 that you lacked in 2019?
Efficiency. Need to do the thing, do the thing, be done with the thing. 

In so many areas of life. 
Not think about the thing, look at the thing, start the thing, take a break from the thing, come back to the thing, work a little more on the thing, do several things at once, run out of time to do more on the thing. Urg. 


Five things I wanted to remember from 2018 for 2019 and did I remember them: 

I didn't apparently do a year in review last year (makes sense...the transition from 2018 to 2019 was...a spectacular mess, to say the least)


Five things I want to remember for 2020:


1) Be sure you're right, then go ahead
2) God works miracles in ways we can't imagine
3) His will is always the most incredible place to be
4) Holding your people loosely because they don't belong to you is a thing, but perhaps more important is remembering that you have to, as my grandpa says, every so often yank the string and make sure you're still attached
5) God is Love, and to show that love to others is why I'm here.


Five things I wanted to do in 2019:

Again, I didn't do this for 2019, but looking back at 2018...  
1) Find a volunteer opportunity, preferably outside of medicine. [I actually did this in 2018...stopped mid-year 2019 due to time constraints, but I really liked helping with Bible memory at church with the little kids.]
2) Do well on Step 3 and my in-training exams. [In training exams HA, no, they were terrible...Step 3 I actually did better than I had for either Step 1 or Step 2 with less preparation.]
3) Be. Purposeful. Trying again, at residency level, to be ahead instead of behind - to do whatever my hand finds to do with all my might, as unto the Lord and not unto men. [I did do better on this in 2018...2019 not quite so much.]
4) Figure out where writing fits into residency. Submit Contract to Time Travel to 1 if not 2 places. [...I think I did...and then decided to something else with it and currently it is getting edited. The answer to "where does writing fit" is wherever I can make it fit.]

5) Pray without ceasing/abide. My prayer time and my ability to think and endure insanity are correlated. I need to be spiritually grounded to help people and I need to make redeeming the time second nature so that I am able to spend more time focused on my God. Him, instead of me. Him, instead of fear of man. Him, instead of whatever I think my calling is. [...Still working on this.]


Five things I want to do in 2020:
1) apply to, interview for, and be accepted for a Fellowship (I am theoretically able to accomplish the first of those things. XD)
2) write + edit + publish 1 book. And consider the same for another. 
3) stay better and closer attached to my people - prioritize those I love
4) be more active (literally doing anything will be an improvement over 2019, so yes, this goal is going to be that broad, lol)
5) improve study habits in preparation for taking two boards in 2021 & being a lifelong learner (starting with one Prep question and 2 MKSAP questions each day) 



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