Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Post #301 is Meme #4509

In need of a meme, Maria to the rescue with...
33 Random Questions

1) The phone rings. Who are you hoping it is?

I'm hoping it doesn't ring. I already talked to Graci today, and I'm not really in the mood to chat with anyone else right now.

2) When shopping at the grocery store, do you return your cart?

I don't remember the last time I took a cart out of the store. I don't typically buy more than I can carry.

When Maria answered this question, she said that she takes her own bags to the grocery. And here, I must confess, I do not. I cram everything I bought into one or two bags (because that's all I can carry) and then use those bags when I clean the cat litter. Except that because they have been crammed full of pointy cereal boxes and the like, they always have little holes in the bottom. I fill them with cat shit litter, tie them closed, and then carry them to the trash. Then, I turn around to discover the trail of litter that leaked out of the little holes as I walked. And then, I swear.

Why don't you just double bag? Or move the trash can next to the litter box and scooped directly into it?

Because, clearly, I already have a system.

3) In a social setting, are you more of a talker or a listener?

I'm a talker. I wish I could say I was a listener, but alas.

4) If abandoned in the wilderness, would you survive?

Sure. For a few hours.

I have no real survival skills. Last time I was in the woods, I squatted to pee and fell. I ended up urinating in my shoe and then landing crotch first into a pile of poison ivy. Except that I didn't know it was poison ivy, so three days later, I pulled aside a gynecologist from work to try to describe my mysterious weeping crotch rash. He said, "Uh...I think I'm going to have to see it to figure out what's going on."

I said, "I'm not showing you my crotch. Not while it looks like this!"

He used the Lord's name in vain and then muttered, "This is why I don't treat the staff."

5) Do you like to ride horses?

I think this question is stupid. I probably think that because I've never ridden a horse.

6) Did you ever go to camp as a kid?

Yes. Did you see Jesus Camp? It was a lot like that. Asking ten year olds to come to the altar and commit to lay down their lives for the Lord is psychotic. Not to mention, it really fucks up their ideas about God.

7) What was your favorite board game as a kid?

I don't remember having a favorite board game. Oh, no, wait...Museum Clue. You got to catch bad guys and learn about art. I was such a dork.

8) If a sexy person was pursuing you but you knew he/she was taken, what would you do?

There are few things less attractive than a person who can't be bothered to finish one thing before he or she starts something else. In the end, it's just not sexy.

Post script~ By taken, I assumed that this meant people in supposedly monogamous relationships--people who are cheating. Open relationships are a very different thing, and I pass no judgment on those who honestly negotiate them.

10) (Where the fuck is nine? I hate it when these meme numbers get lazy on me and just have better things to do than show up) Would you date someone with different religious beliefs?

I'm not sure. I suppose it depends on how different. The truth is, I can't really say who I would or would not date at this point.

Except...the guy who kept getting up to spit in the trash can at Panera today, the one who said he is currently looking for work, the one who parked his car with the backseat full of disposable coffee cups next to mine--that guy...I'm not dating him. Not even after the oh so original, So, you come here often? line. Not happening, dude.

Unemployed, phlegm laden hoarders need not apply.

11) Are you continuing your education?

Yes. I sure as hell can't afford to quit now.

12) Do you know how to shoot a gun?

Yes. I just can't hit a target. No matter, because I HATE guns.

13) If the house was on fire, what's the first thing you'd grab?

My gun. (laugh)

14) How often do you read books?

Daily. How often do I read books for pleasure? Once a month, if I'm lucky.

15) Do you think more about the past, present or future?

The future. The test coming up, my next rotation, applying for residencies, interviewing, getting a job, moving... and this is why I grind my teeth at night.

16) What is your favorite children's book?

Hmm...this is a tough one. I've always liked Dr. Seuss' Sleep Book.

Suddenly, I can't remember a single chapter book that I read as a child. I'm sure if I called my mom she'd be all, you loved (insert name of beloved children's book). You read it seven times. And I'd say, oh, that's right. I can't believe I didn't remember that.

Sadly for all of us, it's entirely too late to call her.

17) How tall are you?

5'6" soaking wet. Or something like that.

18) Where is your ideal house located?

I had a dream that I lived in a brownstone in Greenwich Village. It was quite nice.

19) Last person you talked to?

Graci. She's kicking pathology ass in Boston.

20) When was the last time you were at Olive Garden?

Ugh. I hate Olive Garden. My sister works there. My brothers used to work there. For years, I've been subjected to behind the scenes Olive Garden stories. The salad is mostly ice-burg lettuce with banana peppers. The breadsticks taste like they were microwaved. (By the way, those were microwaved.) And, the pasta is always over-cooked.

I didn't really answer the question, did I?

21) What are the keys on your key chain for?

Locks, primarily.

22) What did you do last night?

I studied, chatted with my roommate a bit, went to the gym, drank half a beer. (Should I continue, or are you getting bored?)

23) Where is your current pain at the moment?

Do we really need both current and at the moment in that question? I didn't think so.

Editing aside, my ass is a little sore. I've been sitting on it too long.

24) Do you like mustard?

I used to eat it with mayo on cold cut sandwiches. Back when I ate cold cuts.

25) Do you like your Mom or Dad?

I like them both for different reasons.

26) How long does it take you in the shower?

Define it.

27) What movie do you want to see right now?

I can't think of a single movie that's playing right now.

28) Do you put lotion on your dog or cats?


And dude, if you're at home greasing up your pets, don't admit to it on your blog. That shit is not normal. Best to keep it to yourself.

29) What did you do for New Years?

I have answered this question in at least two other memes. It's getting old. That said, I waited until you and your date went out for the evening and then I snuck in and lotioned your cat.

30) Do you think The Grudge was scary?

Is The Grudge a movie? It sounds terribly stupid.

31) Do you own a camera phone?

No. My phone just makes and receives phone calls. It's a vintage model.

32) What is the last letter of your middle name?

#32 wins the award for Lamest Question on a Meme. It beat #24 by a hair.

33) Who did you vote for on American Idol?

I don't have a TV, she says, feeling a bit superior to all of you who voted for American Idol.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Lunch with a friend

My mom called last week and said, "Hey, I want to come take you to lunch. How about Thursday?" This doesn't happen often. It's a long drive for a meal.

In fact, the last time I remember my mom driving the two and half hours to come have lunch with me was when we thought she had ovarian cancer. And by we, I mean my mom, my dad, and me. She didn't tell anyone else that she might have ovarian cancer.

I called one of the Ob/Gyns I used to work with and told him her story, gave him all her symptoms, and laid out her doctor's plan. He confirmed what my mom and I suspected: It sounded like it could be ovarian cancer, but her doctor's plan was shit. As my Grandma Betty used to say, "Honey, they don't all graduate at the top of their class."

The new plan was that she would start by coming here and having an MRI. I was working at an MRI center at the time and the radiologist agreed to go over her scans with her and tell her everything, good or bad, as soon as the films were ready. She was more than willing to drive two and half hours for that.

She came one Tuesday morning at 10 and spent 45 minutes in the scanner. I pretended to get some work done.

When she was done, the tech said, "Give us two hours." It would take about two hours to get the films uploaded and for the radiologist to read them. So, my mom and I headed out for a two hour lunch. People had a few recommendations, mostly Greek and Lebanese food, but none of it sounded like food we could eat. Any other day, it would have been great. My mom loves gyros. But, that day, neither of us was in the mood for anything tasty.

We ended up at a bagel shop. The bagels were bad, the chairs were uncomfortable, the table had little bits of sesame seed stuck to it with dried cream cheese, and the whole place was freezing. And that is exactly what we talked about for two hours. We weren't bitching, just making little observations in between bites.

"This table isn't really clean, is it?"

Looking at the table, "No, I it's guess not."

Looking around, "But, I think it's the cleanest one here."

"Yeah, I think you're right."

And then we'd look at my mom's watch. Again. It was clear she didn't want to talk about what we were worried about, and neither of us could pretend to care about anything else. About an hour and ten minutes in to lunch, we decided to head back to the MRI center. We were both freezing in the bagel shop, there was no where in between to take a leisurely walk, and we were hoping her films would be read a little early.

They were. And they said she probably didn't have ovarian cancer. There was no dramatic show as the radiologist read the films for us, no tears of joy. My mom and I don't really do that sort of thing in front of people. A person looking in would have thought he was reading us an unimpressive x-ray of her left toe.

As we walked out of the reading room, I said, "So, you want to go to lunch?"

She laughed and said, "I was thinking the same thing."

I had to get back to work and she had to get home, though. We decided we would skip it.

That day in that lousy bagel shop, that was the first time my mom and I ever had lunch together as friends.

I can't say that we've been best friends ever since. Honestly, I'm not sure either of us wants that. But, occasionally, I see that we slip into that again. Without realizing it, we sort of float from our mother-daughter relationship into friendship. It happens more and more often the older we both get.

Last week, my mom called to see if she could take me to lunch. No impending medical doom this time, just two women having lunch.

Everything about the afternoon was perfect. As we walked into the restaurant, she said, "You look cute today." I love it when she tells me that. She only says it when she really means it. Looking back, I realize I don't even remember what she was wearing. I often do this, look back on our time together and realize that there are ways that I could have been a better friend to her, little things I miss because I'm not quite used to this.

We sat outside an Italian restaurant, at a little table that was only partly shaded by it's umbrella. It was hot, but we drank tons of iced tea and enjoyed the sun. We laughed about how small the salads were that we had both ordered. We filled up on bread with olive oil. We talked about everything and nothing. The afternoon flew. Soared.

When someone later asked what I'd done that day, I said, "I had lunch with a friend. Uh...I mean, my mom."

This week, sort of out of the blue, I called my grandparents and asked if I could come have lunch with them. It's a lot, all this driving for a single meal. I felt like I needed to see them, though.

A few months ago, my grandpa was told he was dying. He was okay with dying. He didn't want anything that was going to prolong his life by a couple months but make him miserable in the meantime. Two weeks ago, when the doctors figured out exactly what he was dying of, they convinced him that he could be cured. They told him that with treatment he would live another five years. At least. So, my grandparents decided they probably had to try the treament.

Last week they found out that it was all much worse, much more widespread than they originally believed. But, the doctors' recommendations didn't change. Not even a bit. They didn't explain to my grandparents that in light of this new information, these additional masses, he was not going to live another five years. It was all very stay the course.

When my mom and I heard the results of the CT and PET scans, we both said the same thing, "Shit. They are going to kill him in this completely pointless attempt to give him more time." My grandparents seemed like they wanted to give treatment a try, though. We decided we would sort of take it all one step at a time and follow their lead.

Five minutes after I got off the phone with my grandma, my mom called. "Hey, do you mind if I join you guys for lunch tomorrow?"

"No," I said, "In fact, I was going to call you to let you know I'd be in town."

She called back a few hours later. "Listen," she said, "I just got off the phone with Grandma. Suddenly, they aren't really comfortable with the plan for Grandpa. Just so you know, this is probably going to come up tomorrow."

"What do you want me to say, Mom?"

"You can tell them exactly what you think about all this. They want to know."

And, they did. So, we did. We sat at my grandparents kitchen table and we talked about what all of this really meant. My mom would talk a little bit. And then I would talk a little bit. We tried to give them the information in small chunks. Mom got up in the middle and picked up the phone to call the doctors. My grandparents wanted her to discuss everything we had talked about with them.

As she got on the phone, I sat across from my grandpa and said, "I want you to make sure you understand what I'm saying here. If you do treatment, you're going to feel pretty crappy pretty quickly. But, this is a bad cancer. It's not like if you don't do treatment you're going to feel good and then just not be here one day. Eventually, you're probably going to feel bad. I just don't want to paint this picture that if you don't do treatment, you're going to feel like you do today until the end." He understood.

After he digested the first bit, I said, "Grandpa, I also want you to know, when I say that without treatment, you may not live long, we're not talking about only living a year. We're talking about living a few months."

As I was telling him this, I was looking at my mom out of the corner of my eye. She was standing next to the fridge, the phone to her ear, on hold with the doctor's office. She wasn't talking, but it was as if we were saying these words together. It was as though we had each taken the end of a piece of heavy furniture and, together, had heaved it off the floor.

When it was all said, I think that Grandpa was a bit relieved. He finally knew what he needed to to make his decisions. Mom talked to the doctors. She laid it all out for them, saying, "I suspect that what you are thinking is that this is what he has, right? And, when you talk about a treatment success here, you're not talking about five years, are you? You're talking about two months, right?"

The doctors confirmed all that she had said. They admitted that all of this was a huge long shot, that treatment would probably kill him. My grandparents had my mom call and cancel the biopsy scheduled for the next morning.

And then, we all laughed for an hour, mostly about funeral plans. "I don't want to hear it, Dick," Grandma said. "I don't care what you want. You know what I've always said, the funeral is for me, not you. I'm the one left. I'll do what I want with it." It's true, that is what she's always said. She has organized her church's funeral dinners for years and has always said that she doesn't know why dying people tell their families what to do or say at the funeral. It's not like they're around to enjoy it.

The woman has a point. But, whenever she makes it, my mom and I can't help but laugh.

When it was time to go, the four of us all slipped on our shoes and headed out the side door. No one ever pulls away from my grandparents' house without the two of them standing in the driveway to wave. There could be three feet of snow, they'd come out to wave. As we walked out, my mom grabbed my travel mug. "Here, I'll, uh...carry this to your car," she said. I handed her the mug, knowing it was an excuse to walk down the street to where I'd parked so that we could check on each other. As I opened my door, she whispered, "You okay?"

"Yeah," I said. "I'm okay. What about you?"

"I'm alright," she said.

And we were. At the end of the day, all four of us were okay.

My mom and I have sarcastically joked since that we should do that more often, meet for lunch to tell loved ones they're dying. "Oh yeah," one of us will say, "that was great. Especially the part where we both really wanted a drink but there wasn't any alcohol in the whole damn house. That part was my favorite."

Those are the kinds of things that you can laugh about. With a friend.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Apartment in Queens?

Hey, friends. I just received my housing information from Mt. Sinai. Unfortunately, the room they've set aside for me is quite a distance from Elmhurst where I'll be working. I'm digging through Craigslist, but I thought I'd also throw a note up here. Know anyone in Queens who wants to share some space in September?

I possess no special skills, can't even juggle. But, I shower daily; and I wear antiperspirant and a bra.

(Gonna move that sexy description of myself over to eharmony and see if I can't scare up the next Mr. Terroni.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Stories that remind us all why Terroni shouldn't have children

I'm cat-sitting. Which, of course is not to say that I'm actually sitting on a cat. Yet. But rather, I'm feeding, watering, and generally trying to keep from killing a cat. A kitten, actually.

Things went really well for about the first two hours. Graci left for Boston, and two hours later, I stopped by her apartment to steal some lunch and check on Scout.

Graci called about this time and said, "So, how's everything going?"

"Oh, it's all good," I said.

"Scout's doing okay?"

"Oh, you meant with the cat. Uh, well she's sleeping right now, but she looks okay. Oh, wait...she just woke up. And...uh...oh shit. I'm going to have to call you back."

"What's wrong?"

"Uh, there's something wrong with her eye. I think she might have poked a hole in it or something. Shit. This is bad."

"She probably just has a little gunk in it. That happens sometimes. Just wipe it out."

"No. This isn't gunk. I think part of her eye is coming out. I'll call you back."

Now look, I've never had a cat before. I don't know anything about cat eyes. Frankly, I don't know much about human eyes. They sort of gross me out. And, you know, even as a med student, I don't feel the least bit bad admitting that. This is why we have special people called ophthalmologists, people trained to look at eyeballs and say something other than, "Shit. This is bad."

Crisis has a way of forcing us to grow, though; and this ordeal has taught me a bit about cat eyes. Cats, like aliens and terrorists, have an extra eyelid. It turns out that what I was looking at on Scout was not a chunk of lacerated eyeball, but a folded piece of her inflamed third eyelid. As I ran around the apartment with her looking for the cat carrier and vet information, some of her actual eyeball began to peak through. This healing process may have been accelerated by the fact that I accidentally whacked her head on the closet door and then again on the carrier as I tried to load her up for med-evac. I may have knocked that third eyelid out of the way. Or, Scout may have just decided, If I don't show this crazy woman that I'm okay soon, she's going to kill me in her frenzy. Either way, she was looking a little better.

About this time, I called Graci back to tell her that her cat may still have two intact eyeballs. She was more than a little relieved. Now, I could call the vet and make an appointment rather than just showing up to frantically yell, HER EYE IS OUT. HER EYE IS OUT.

By the time we got to the vet that afternoon, Scout's eye looked even better. Eighty dollars later, she was diagnosed with conjunctivitis. Or a scratch. Or a sting. Or a spider bite. I was handed a tube of ointment to put in her eyes twice daily for seven days.

Seven days later, her eye looks great. And I look like I spend my recreational time wrestling a weed-whacker.

Investment tip of the day: Buy stock in Neosporin. My usage alone should boost their third quarter earnings 80%.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Two women at Panera

Big hair, picking up her to-go bag, "Oh my goodness! This is HEAVY."

Bigger hair, "That's the whole grain, baby."

And let this be a lesson to you, stretch before you pick up your bagel packs, lest you should pull a muscle on all that fiber.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Step 2

It's a hell of a way to spend your summers, let me tell you. Last summer, it was studying for Step 1 of the boards. This summer, it's Step 2.

This feels different, though. First, I'm not in Florida this time. I think the beach helps the studying, and if I don't do as well on this exam, I plan to blame it on the lack of salty sea air in my current locale. Second, I'm not nearly as panicked as I was for Step 1. None of the students are. Not because the test is less important, but because after the last year, we're all too damn tired to work up a respectable freak out.

Still, as I do practice questions, I can't help but wonder, where the hell are they keeping these patients they talk about on exams? Because I sure as hell have NEVER SEEN THEM in a clerkship.

Maybe they're all cloistered. I'm being trained on the unwashed masses and tested on nuns.

Friday, July 11, 2008


My mother called two weeks ago and said, "Hey, we're going skydiving. Wanna come?"

"Wait a minute, you are going skydiving?"

"I think so. Why, what do think? Should I do it?"

The woman refuses to take her Fosamax because there's a 0.0001% chance it might rot her jaw off, but she'll consider flying her osteoporotic ass 14,000 feet into the air and then jumping towards the dirt.

Of course, I told her to go for it.

My mom, my brother, and my sister were all going to jump out of a plane. Unfortunately, I was out of town when they made their appointments. (Yes, you need an appointment. This ain't no Great Clips.) But then, some sort of parachute unfriendly weather blew in and they had to cancel.

On Saturday, my brother called to tell me that Hurling Towards Their Deaths, Take 2 had been rescheduled for the next day. Without really thinking about it, I told them I would go. I drove to my parents the next morning and we all headed out to the country. That's the best way I can describe this skydiving place--the country. At some point, I asked my brother, "Uh, dude, is this place run by the Amish? Because they're not really supposed to fly, and if you think I'm jumping out of a plane operated by Amish rebels, you're out of your damn mind." It wasn't. Run by the Amish, that is.

When we got there--it's the field next to the trees and behind the corn, if you're looking for it--we started by filling out the paperwork. The paperwork starts with a paragraph IN ALL CAPS WITH A LOT OF BOLD. It says, We don't have insurance and YOU MIGHT DIE. Or be MAIMED. SERIOUSLY MAIMED. Even if the chute opens, you might still DIE. In fact, most people who DIE skydiving, do so after their chute has opened. Sign and date below indicating that you are fine with DEATH and or MAIMING.

And then, for the next twelve pages, you initial under every paragraph. All the subsequent paragraphs say about the same thing as the first, Please understand that you might die. Oh, and if you do die, you don't get your money back. So, don't think that you can save yourself $200 by dying here today. No refunds.

As I was autographing the novella of death, people were landing in the field behind us. I saw all these uncoordinated yahoos, two of whom almost walked into a fence afterwards, successfully landing in the field. I was thinking, Look, even the morons are surviving. We'll be okay.

None of this did anything to comfort my mother, though. She was convinced she was going to smash into a tree, or some corn, or the little building with the paperwork lady's office inside. She pictured herself crashing right through the woman's desk, impaled by ball-point pens, a stapler stuck in her ass.

I, on the other hand, was not that nervous. It was the last day of my one week break between 3rd and 4th year. Frankly, if you had said to me, "You can jump out of plane and stay on vacation one more day, or you can go back to work now," I would have picked the plane. Parachute or not. I would have taken my chances. That's how much I was enjoying my time off.

After I finished my paperwork, I was fitted with my harness (and here we find the results of those misguided google searches) and met my tandem instructor, Pierre. Pierre had a Croatian accent. If you ever jump out of plane, you should do it with the guy with the Croatian accent. It's just...well, you'll just have to trust me on this one. The accent is a nice touch.

We all filed into the plane behind our instructors and straddled two benches. We were all lined up and sandwiched together--instructor, yahoo, instructor, yahoo. My mom and her instructor were on the floor in front of the door because she decided that she had to go first. As the plane rose to 14,000 feet, Pierre yelled things in my ear, except that it was so loud, it sounded like he was whispering. It was a lot of, Where are you from? What do you do?

He's traveled around the world as a competitive sailor. He's owned a few businesses. When he asked, "So, why do you want to be a doctor?" I laughed. The classic med school interview question follows me everywhere.

At about 10,000 feet, Pierre reached around the front of me and clipped my harness into his. He tightened everything and whisper shouted in my ear, "We will go down as one body." And with that, I can honestly say I was no longer even a bit nervous about jumping out of the plane. I was distracted by, uh...all that Pierre I was strapped to.

We got to 14,000 feet, and my mother, who looked like she was going to vomit, jumped. Except that it doesn't really look like jumping. It looks like a person is being sucked out of the plane. So, my mom was sucked out of the plane, and Pierre and I were next.

I don't really know how to describe what it felt like to leave the plane and free fall at 100 mph. I could have done that all day. I saw only of the horizon in front of me, and it felt so incredibly freeing to think about nothing else.

There and then I decided I will do this again.

Next time, Graci's coming with me. I'll make her write a guest post after she gets sucked out of the plane.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Say what

It's 2 am, and I just got off the phone with a friend from college--a woman I haven't talked to in 5 years. Tonight I discovered I need to find a better way to answer the Hey, what happened to your husband question.

I realize now that the things that just seem like parts of the story to me sound like sordid (her word, not mine) details to people who haven't been around through all of this.

She said, "When I see the girls from undergrad next month, I'll let them know what you've been up to. Minus all the sordid details, of course."

I was thinking, what sordid details? That's nothing. I didn't even tell you about how he...

And I didn't tell her.
But the point is, I've got to find a better way to answer that damn question.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

If Graci starts doing 'guest posts', that's not a good sign

I'm going skydiving this afternoon with my mom, my sister, and my brother. When I talked to her on the phone last night, my mom said, "Well, it'll be a good story if nothing else."

I corrected her.
It'll be a good story or nothing else.

Sunday night update: It's a good story.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The 'I'm not your Bond girl' conducts a musical review

Awhile back, Mr. J. William posted seven swans--seven songs you're into in the moment, and why--and suggested that it might be the kind of thing I might like to do as well. I have tried to get to this post at least a dozen times since then. The last month of internal medicine was a lot of freaking work. I was busy. I'm not sure what else I can say about that. Hmm...

They called my intern James Bond. When I asked him why, he said, "Oh, they all think I look like Daniel Craig."

"Huh," I said. "I think you sort of look like my brother. In particular, the years after he quit smoking pot all the time, but before he started going to church."

"Were those good years?" he asked.

"Yeah, they were good years...but not license to kill good. Sorry, dude. I guess you can't win 'em all."

We got along quite well in spite of the fact that I was the only heterosexual female in the building who thought he looked more like a close relative than an international sex symbol. Frankly, I think he was a little relieved. That's got to be a lot of pressure, to be that hot all the time. I remember how exhausting it was the year everyone thought I looked like Posh. I eventually had to quit wearing that outfit to work.

Now, on to the music...
I should start by saying, these are not seven songs of this moment. First, there are only five songs here. You don't want to read about all seven. Trust me. Second, they are actually the songs from five different moments when I tried to write this post--it's a musical review.

If You Were to Wake Up - Lyle Lovett
Way back in May, I wrote about a patient named Jane and her partner Anne. When I ended that post, I said that Jane wasn't quite there yet, she wasn't quite well. In fact, she was spending quite a bit of time asleep. I would check on her several times a day. There were days she was up for hours at a time, and others when she was out all day. When she was awake, sometimes she was with it, sometimes she wasn't.

It was hard to watch Anne watch her sleep. You could see it in her eyes, the fear that her love may never really be here like she was before she got sick. When Jane was awake, Anne would soak in every moment of it. It was hard to watch that, too. One night, I came home and listened to Lyle Lovett and His Large Band. I didn't choose the album with Jane and Anne in mind, but when I heard this song, it reminded me of them. And it made me cry.

When I left town for my month of internal medicine, I had Graci check in on Jane. She had been moved to the rehabilitation unit and we were all crossing our fingers that she was going to make progress there.

Graci checked on her and then called me and said, "Uh, I'm not sure exactly what you were worried about, but she seems fine to me. Just like any other 50 year old woman." It was then that I began to wonder if Graci might be full of shit, because Jane was far from just like any other 50 year old woman when I left her.

I went to see her when I was back in town that weekend. It turns out, Graci was not full of shit. Jane was just like any other 50 year old woman. (Except that she's actually closer to 60. She looks great for her age.) We sat and talked for over an hour. In many ways, it was like finally meeting her. I spent the whole time trying to keep my jaw off the floor. I couldn't believe how well she was doing.

Anne called me yesterday just to let me know that Jane is still doing well. She is at home now, and this week, they are both celebrating their July birthdays with a big wine party. Now that she's alert and oriented, they're going to get her good and drunk. I don't think I'll ever hear from them again. But, you know, that's actually okay with me. (This is, perhaps, where I differ from someone who wants to go into primary care.) I feel incredibly privileged to have been a small part of this brief chapter in their lives.

A Case Of You - k.d. lang
(or here, if you can ignore the stalker video)
When I drive in to work early in the morning, before it is light, I listen to Hymns of the 49th Parallel. This started back in surgery, at the beginning of my 3rd year, when I was secretly terrified to go to work every day. I started the year in the ICU and started every morning assessing patients by myself, all the while thinking, "Don't miss anything, don't fuck it up. Don't miss anything, DON'T FUCK IT UP." I still think that, the little voice in my head just doesn't jump up and down yelling it anymore. It's more like a reminder, less like a reason to consider sedating myself before rounds.

At the beginning of the year, though, when I began every day with secret terror, I found that k.d. lang helped. I would put in this album, fill my car with her music, and float to work on her voice. This is my favorite song from the album. If I ever face a firing squad, I want k.d. lang to sing Joni Mitchell to me while they lock and load.

What Happens Tomorrow - Melissa Etheridge
(or here)
I don't have a TV at home, but there was one in the call room where I stayed for internal medicine. I didn't watch much of it, except on the night of the last democratic primaries. Which states were those? I don't remember. It was the night when Obama claimed victory and Hillary said she'd be making a decision about where to go with her campaign in the next few days. We all knew what she was saying, though. She was done.

I was not a Hillary supporter, but I have to admit, I teared up a little as she spoke that night. I would try to explain what that was all about, but Rebecca Traister already said it better...

Language fails us when we say that Clinton "ran for president." Hillary Clinton didn't just run for president. She hustled and jumped and slogged and cried and ate and drank and didn't sleep and put up with her nutty underminer of a husband for president. She lit herself, and everything around her, on fire for president.

Clinton behaved with the kind of naked drive and aggression and mercilessness we revere in, for example, football greats, wrestling stars and military heroes. Her political ambition and ruthlessness are qualities native to anyone putting themselves up for the job of running the country...

And, yes, it's terrific that generations of little girls will grow up knowing that women can run for president. But count me as gratified that those who do so will also know they are not responsible for bearing the highest expectations for their gender's morality and politesse, because one hell of a difficult dame has been there before them and knocked everybody around pretty hard.

When Melissa sings, I believe a woman can work hard and succeed, and we could be content to believe that she could be in charge of the free. And be the President, I get a lump in my throat.

I'm not sure I would have felt so strongly about this before my 3rd year, but I only had to hear one physician tell me that women shouldn't be physicians to change how I view things. And then, there was the doctor who introduced me to his patient as a student nurse. (You bet your ass I corrected him.) And the person who told me I should wear fewer button-downs and more "cute tops like the other girls"...and on it goes.

Now, I swallow hard when I see a woman rock.

Squeeze Box - The Who
(or here)
There are two fabulous things about this song. First, if you've just finished the 3rd year of medical school, this is the kind of total absurdity you need to celebrate. Second, if your friend Graci hates this song, the celebration is all that more enjoyable.

I'll Cover You - Rent
(or here)
This weekend, I went to hang out with the women I worked with in labor and delivery before medical school. My best friend from that group, J, recently lost her mother in a house fire. It was as terrible as it sounds, complete with local news footage of the fire fighters doing CPR on her mom in the front yard as the house burned behind them. When J went out to the house two days later, she found a used endotracheal tube lying in the grass from where they had tried to intubate her mom. She drove around with it in her car for two weeks.

J is an only child, so she has had to take care of everything on her own since the fire. Except that she hasn't really been on her own, because her friends have been absolutely amazing. They went to her mom's house the day of the fire and rummaged through the wreckage, retrieving what they could. They filled the fruit bowl in the center of her coffee table with Xanax and kept the bar stocked with red wine. And, they played Rent. Over and over again.

J loves Rent. If you've seen the musical, you know that this song is sung by the cast at Angel's funeral as they all come around her boyfriend, Collins, and together say goodbye. It will now forever remind me of the way that J's friends have come around her in the last few months.

I just realized I'm sort of ending this on a tragic note. In fact, the weekend was great. J made her mom's German potato salad, which tastes like a potato would if it had an orgasm. We drank lots of that red wine. The Xanax centerpiece has been replaced with chocolate, which we also dove into. And, we laughed like hyenas at things you just shouldn't laugh at. It was a great way to end the year.