Today on the day we celebrate Juneteeth or Emancipation of Slavery and in a political setting where there seems to be such a lack of empathy and an increased interest in designating certain people “different” or “less then” I wanted to post a video that was shared at my last Medical Group meeting. It is a reminder for all of us to see the humanity in every person. Though this video occurs in a medical setting the sentiment is universal and such a good reminder. Thanks for indulging me.
Last Year our county was awarded one of twelve grants by the California Opioid Safety Commission to help educate the public and medical community on the increasing use and danger of both prescription and street narcotics. The Commission got wind of my 5/325 quilt and invited me for an interview. The results of that interview can be found here (you can find the link below my picture): Placer Nevada County Medical Society – Just another WordPress site
The fact that this statement piece is getting recognition in the medical community is pretty satisfying. Even more exciting is the fact that it is getting the word out about the narcotic dependence and addiction issues in the general community. (It was on display in Houston at the International Quilt Festival, will be shown next month at Quiltcon in LA and will be featured in the Quiltcon Magazine). I am scheduled to speak (with my quilt if it is available) in April at our hospital medical staff meeting and there are some other venues pending. Who knew that my crazy idea would get so much play?
One of my ER doctor colleagues sent this out yesterday and it had reminiscing about my ER Residency. Though I was not at LA County, I was also at an inner city hospital and the images and message resonate even with my current job. The doctors I work with provide me with endless inspiration. My colleague Claire spent a month last year in Syria working with Doctors Without Borders providing medical support to the besieged civilian population. Her story of sneaking across the border through a hole in a barbed wire fence is unreal. Hernando, another colleague is the head of Kaiser’s International Relief efforts and was one of the first on the scene with FEMA at the Oklahoma City bombing and at the World Trade Center on 9/11. My colleagues Manny, Brian and Jeff have all served in Iraq and Afghanistan as doctor reservists over the last several years. It would takes pages and pages to detail all the community clinics, international medical relief and other amazing work collectively the rest have done in addition to the rigorous day to day demands of our regular job. So no, this post is not much about crafting (although for me it certainly is a nice counterbalance to my job), these people inspire me every day.
Twenty five years ago I entered a huge lecture hall at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The room was filled with Ivy Leaguers(which I was not) and the instructor of the Anatomy Class was a Hungarian with a strong accent who called on us by name because he had memorized our names and faces from our Med School entrance photos. (Yikes!) This class was followed by the Human Cadaver lab and “living anatomy” where the med students stripped to our skivvies and drew the position of organs on our bodies. 🙂
During my 3rd and 4th year clinical rotations, I rotated through Harborview where the wards were filled with people suffering from a new devastating infection called HIV. During my Pediatrics rotation at Seattle Childrens we were tasked in seeing kids who had suffered the ravages of the E Coli outbreak at Jack in the Box and saw many children admitted with complications of Haemophilus Influenza, Varicella (chickenpox) and Strep Pneumoniae which we rarely see in kids since the introduction of these vaccinations. All the while many of my college friends were starting work at a little company called Microsoft.
On the first day of Medical School I met a bold young fellow medical student, Mary. We were both anxious to prove ourselves and were certain we would cure cancer someday. 🙂 We became instant friends. Three residencies, four children, many moves and several years of practice later between us, we reconnected. How fun it has been to recall our medical school journey. Though we fell far short of curing cancer, it is still mind-blowing to step back and acknowledge the advances in medical treatment since that first day in the lecture hall together.
Needing a distraction from the hexagons I am sewing up, I grabbed one of my last vintage Hmong baby carriers and made her a bag. She had admired one I had made for a fundraiser and as her birthday approaches, I thought I would surprise her with one of her own.
When I was in growing up looking at a career in Medicine, I had no family or friends who could give me an insight into the job of a physician. Most of my ideas of being a doctor were informed by books and the media. Thank goodness as I entered college, Med School and residencies I was gifted many fabulous mentors who have made my entrance into this career much easier. The father of one of my best friends in college happened to be the associate Dean of my Medical School. I remember fondly going into his office during some particularly difficult classes for peptalks and later visiting him in Seattle once I had completed my residencies to discuss interesting cases (the later visits while he himself was dying of metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma. Powerful memories.) Also on my journey I have had several fabulous mentors in the fields of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine. One particular superstar, Dr. Wilson was known during my ER Residency for taking you out to the ambulance bay for a “talk” when she felt you needed extra education. (I am so grateful in retrospect, as scary as these talks were for this direct approach in teaching.) Dr. Wilson throws a huge celebration every year in honor of all the graduating women ER residents from my residency. When I first started, women were few and far between and it was particularly nice to have these annual get togethers to discuss unique issues we faced as women doctors. (How do you manage childcare with an erratic ER doctor’s schedule? How do you pump during a busy shift if you are still breast feeding your baby? How do you deal with difficult consultants? etc.) Although women in Emergency Medicine are much more prevalent these days, our annual celebration is still a highlight of my year. I get to reconnect with old friends, network with other doctors and get advice from some of my long term mentors. The pictures are from some of our previous events.
This weekend I was fortunate to both get an invitation for our annual ER get together as well as talk with a preMed college student to discuss her interest in Medicine. This summer she is hoping to shadow me in the ER a bit. Having benefited from these amazing mentors I have made becoming a mentor one of my 2014 goals. Not only do I want to help future doctors, I also want to help young people learn the disappearing skills of knitting and sewing (hobbies that are very meditative for me and ironically perfect contrasts to my job).
So tell me, have you benefited from special mentors along the way? Are you mentoring other people right now? I would love to hear your stories.
When I am not folding laundry, going on field trips with my kids, knitting, sewing or otherwise crafting, I work as an Emergency Medicine Physician. My schedule is never dull, every day is different and I have come to appreciate that life is fragile and finite. Thankful for the complicated puzzle all the pieces of my life construct. The above picture was taken for a local newspaper article I wrote earlier this year about preventing Pediatric injuries and illnesses. (I was a Pediatrician before becoming an ER doctor.)
I know it is a stretch from crafting and travel but this is also my life. Proud to be a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician. I enjoyed this trailer and looking forward to seeing the documentary.