Monday, May 30, 2016

You Lift Us Up

Cross-posted from Caring Bridge.

Tuesday is Moving Day. I keep saying, "We're almost packed!" and yet find myself still putting things into boxes. This time, I mean it. (Anybody want a peanut?)

Yesterday I gathered up all the cards we have received over the last two months: the get-well cards from entertainment center, the graduation cards from the china hutch, a long row of get-well cards from the shelf above the picture window in the living room. They're all coming with us to Pittsburgh, in some box or other. I have already shared about Dear Husband's last concert with The Chorale. The next day was his last Sunday playing at church.

After we got home from the going-away party, we sat out in the sun on our back deck to open the stack of cards we had accumulated. Some were addressed to DH and some to both of us, so we decided to take turns: he would open the cards with his name, and I would open the joint ones. We each selected a card from the bag, and I went first. "Good Bye," it read, with a red balloon. How sweet. DHl opened his: "Good Bye," it read, with a red balloon. What were the chances that the very first two cards we opened would be copies of the same one??

By the end of the session, we had also opened two copies of "You're leaving? This sucks." and no fewer than five--yes, five--adorable Dr. Seuss cards. We liked the poem so much that we read it through to the end every time. I got the first two and DH the last three, which he read in his normal voice, like a chipmunk (Alvin!!), and like Vincent Price. Needless to say, we laughed, we cried...and we were very touched.

The "Get WEll" balloon that DH''s parents brought with them from Cincinnati at the end of April is miraculously still floating in the dining room. I don't know what sort of "special gas" they put in it, but I suppose I will have to euthanize it before we hop in our respective cars and head east on Tuesday. Or maybe we'll bring it with us, like all of your good wishes, that buoy us up during this difficult time of worry and change. Thank you.

Why yes, that IS a candelabra on the piano behind us.

Friday, May 27, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXVII

Basic Life Support (BLS): renewed.

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS): obtained.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS): presumably in my future.

Dear Husband jokes that I am now both certified and certifiable.


Monday, May 23, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXVI

I rarely see the passenger side of my own car, but here is the damage I did to the Turquoise Torpedo one morning after a twelve-hour overnight shift on Labor & Delivery. I was trying to coast into the garage before the door had gone all the way up, so I was focusing on not hitting it as I pulled in, rather than checking the side mirrors. It's a semi-permanent reminder of that week of obstetrics, which I loved: you work so hard for so long and then, usually, you get a healthy baby at then end.


Friday, May 20, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXV

Now that I am transitioning from medical school to residency, sometimes "studying" in Michael's hospital room looks like this.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

United in Love around the World

By chance, this is the second year in a row in which I have given the Children's Message on Pentecost Sunday. Last year I used wooden blocks to talk about Pentecost being a reversal of Babel. This year the pastors were preaching on the global United Methodist Church, with an emphasis on the UMC in Africa. So I decided to do a little geography lesson with a globe and a special focus on UMs in one African country, because I think it's important to expose kids to the idea that there are people who are like and unlike them around the world.

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All of [the disciples] were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” ~ Acts 2:4-12 (NIV)

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Good morning! Welcome to Pentecost Sunday at Faith United Methodist Church. Pentecost is sometimes called “the birthday of the Christian church,” and United Methodists are one kind of Christian. If I wanted to find United Methodists, where in the world would I look? Can you help me find places on this globe where United Methodists live? [Start with the United States, then see what they come up with. Also Phillipines, South Korea, India, Poland, France, Honduras, Angola, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania.] What do you think it’s like to be a United Methodist in Mozambique? [Go to church for Sunday School and worship, they read the Bible to learn about Jesus, etc.] Did you know that in Mozambique, the people there typically speak a Bantu language and Portuguese? So their Bibles aren’t in English like ours are; their Bibles are in their Bantu language or in Portuguese.

In the Scripture lesson for today from the Book of Acts, we read about the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus’ disciples after his death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit helped the disciples spread the Good News about Jesus Christ in many different languages, so that people from all around the Mediterranean world could hear and understand. Today there are 196 countries in the world, and United Methodists are spreading the love of God in 135 of them. That is Good News indeed!

Shall we pray? Amazing God, send your Holy Spirit to unite your church in love around the world. Amen!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Love is Like...

Photo credit: Eric Frahm
When Dear Husband and I toured Central Europe with The Chorale in the summer of 2012, I created a dance to Eliza Gilkeyson's haunting piece "Requiem." You can read my post about that experience here. I reprised the role back home on the group's fall concert. Now, with DH and I leaving town, the maestra asked if I would perform it with the group again. Unfortunately, no one had a video recording from four years ago, and I was not yet in the habit of writing down my choreography. So I put off her request until I knew that DH would be at a stable place in his chemotherapy cycle, when I would have the emotional energy to devote to re-choreographing the dance, and he could serve as my rehearsal pianist. (Otherwise I would have had to run back and forth to my laptop, clicking on a YouTube video.)

I remembered most of the opening: the mourner processes down the aisle during the introduction, then opens her arms in a series of welcoming gestures, as the choir calls on "Mother Mary." Head covered in a scarf, I was pleased with the effect as of a wall of water as I rushed forward and backward, imitating the waves of the sea that had stolen the homes and loved ones of the singer-narrators. Then I added a sort of King Dancer Pose (a side scale holding the raised foot in one hand) that seemed to possess static beauty. (It's not a song that lends itself to leaps and jumps, and increasingly my knees punish me for including any in my dances.) The rest of the moves I more or less created from scratch. I recalled that one of my favorite sequences from the original involved what I imagined as "falling leaves," as I brought each swirling hand down from above head. I couldn't remember how I had gotten them up there in the first place, so this time I decided to use the motion in reverse, ending in raised "prayer hands," which was the central motif of the dance. I used the scarf to good effect, and of course dancing in a long flowing skirt added movement and beauty. DH and I had plenty of rehearsal time, and I was pleased with how the performance turned out. I also took the time to type up the choreography, in case there is a "next time."

Photo credit: Eric Frahm
Because it was Dear Husband's last concert with The Chorale, there was a special presentation (above). There were lots of teary eyes then and during some of the more plaintive or earnest pieces in the second half. DH even surprised me by dedicating the choir's performance of "O, My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose," based on Robert Burns' 1794 poem of the same name (below), which he reportedly heard a Scottish lass sing. Rene Clausen wrote the tune for his wife for Valentine's Day.

O my Luve's like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve's like the melodie
That’s sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonnie lass,
So deep in luve am I:
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry:

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun:
I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare thee weel, my only Luve
And fare thee weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

Between visiting me at college in St. Louis; moving from Baltimore to Illinois to Pittsburgh; and coming to see me during my research year in Germany, I am quite sure DH has gone "ten thousand mile" to demonstrate his love for me. This was his dedication: "You are an amazing woman who is the embodiment of the pledge 'in sickness and in health.' I and all your future patients are lucky to have you in my life." I guess we deserve each other, then.

::gavel bangs::

Thus ends this meeting of the Mutual Appreciation Society!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXIV

My very last rotation of medical school ever I spent at an interventional pain clinic, with this jovial fellow. He believes students learn by doing and not just watching, so he coached me through several different minor procedures. It was a great way to cap off my experience in medical school.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Frau Doktor Graduates from Medical School

"Oh *$%&, what have I gotten myself into??" ~Me, at the end of convocation

Going into graduation weekend, we had two concerns. The first was whether Dear Husband would be sufficiently recovered from his second round of chemotherapy to participate in the festivities. The second was whether the rain would hold off long enough to let us take some post-ceremony photographs. The timing was a little precarious--DH had started chemo  #1 on a Wednesday, but that needed to be a Monday for chemo #2 or else he would be too sick to cap off twelve grueling years of school by hooding me. (My medical school lets anyone with a terminal doctorate put the medieval hood over your head, and DH's Doctorate of Medical Arts counts.) We had invested a lot of emotional energy into that symbolic act--perhaps too much?--so when the oncologist's office wanted to push him back to a Thursday, I turned on the charm, and they squeezed us in on a Tuesday. (They'll also be getting an edible bouquet when we leave!).

Thankfully, DH felt good enough on Friday to take some just-in-case photos at the statue of the Alma Mater--there wasn't even much of a line, since all-campus graduation is a week later. He came to the picnic and awards ceremony, and Saturday morning, he stayed out of the shopping / packing / mowing-before-it-rained-too-hard fray in order to conserve his energy. The ceremony went off with hardly a hitch, and the sun even came out for an outdoor photo shoot before dinner. Until the official pics come out, here we are in all our amateur glory.

Check out these guys in their hats, shades, and striped shirts.

At the Awards Ceremony Friday night.

 Here's to 12 years of graduate and medical school, and almost as many of marriage.

In case you can't tell, I've got the hots for this guy, who's been by my side the whole way.

These people never doubted that I would finish what I had set out to do.

Our families are awesome models of marriage and supportive parenting.

Friday, May 6, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXIII

It's award season in medical school: 

Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society ("key" on burgundy ribbon)
Graduation with Honors (medal on green ribbon)
The William Sorlie Award for Outstanding Clinical Core Clerkship Performance
Granville Bennett Award for Medical Education
Excellence in Pediatric Medicine Award

Previously awarded: 
David and Nancy Morse Scholarship (Spring 2010)
Graduates Recognized in the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students (Anatomy in Fall 2009 and Spring 2010; Western Civ II in Fall 2011)

Flowers courtesy My Awesome Parents and the N.s from church; balloons from Dear Husband's Parents.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What Medical School Looks Like XXXII

Sometimes medical school looks like recertifying in Basic Life Support (aka CPR) with a one-armed bandit. I mean baby.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Disability Awareness: Accessibility and Inclusion

While I was in Minneapolis for the history of medicine conference, Wesley Church recognized me and four other individuals for their social justice work. I have participated in this annual celebration before (when the theme was Palestine) and was very sorry to miss the worship service, luncheon, and poetry slam. Here are excerpts from the church newsletter.

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May 1st marked Peace with Justice Sunday at Wesley UMC. United Methodists around the world celebrate this special Sunday, but it holds extra significance for the Wesley community. On this day, we pay special honor to the late Jean Cramer-Heuerman, a senior pastor at Wesley who was known as a passionate advocate for peace and justice. Jean believed social justice is profoundly biblical. She pushed us to challenge unjust systems that harm, exploit, and fail those who are most vulnerable. She reminded us that social justice ministry happens “out there” more than it happens “in here.” She contended that social justice ministry forms disciples who respond with action – disciples who don’t just think theologically but act theologically, following in the footsteps of Christ.

The Jean Cramer-Heuerman Peace with Justice Award was established in 1999 to honor Pastor Jean’s legacy, to recognize those in our Wesley community who incorporate social justice in their practice of faith, and to encourage others to do likewise. The awardees’ names appear on a plaque that hangs in the Watseka Lounge. Roses are given in connection with the award, symbolic of the rose bush planted in Pastor Jean’s honor next to the Peace Pole outside Wesley’s Lamb Courtyard. The variety of rose there is named “Peace.” [See photo above; the message is in eight languages.]

This year’s Peace with Justice theme was “Disability Awareness: Accessibility and Inclusion.”


Kristen Ehrenberger has spent the past 12 years at the University of Illinois working towards her MD/PhD. Throughout her time here, she has been an active member in the Wesley Graduate Student book study as well as serving at Faith United Methodist Church in developing their children’s church curriculum.

A constant advocate for racial, gender, and socio-economic justice and equality, Kristen uses social media and participation in community activities to raise awareness of systemic issues of justice that have led to a fragmented community. She has also worked with the graduate student union to ensure graduate student well-being and rights.

Kristen will be leaving this summer to begin her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where she will being doing a four-year combined adult-pediatrics residency program. She intends to enter the “complex care” branch of medicine, in which doctors seek to diagnose and treat patients with multiple life-long healthcare needs. Kristen is a force for social justice not just in her free time, but in her career and vocation.