For today’s Daily Prompt, we were asked to provide a “mixed tape”, a soundtrack of music for our life. This sounded awfully familiar. I looked back in my Facebook notes, and lo and behold there was a game going around for this very purpose. The rules were as follows:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press play.
4. For the first question, type the song that’s playing.
5. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool… just type it in, man!
6. Repeat until all the questions are answered.
IF YOUR LIFE WERE A MOVIE WHAT WOULD THE SOUNDTRACK BE?
The results were hilarious – and somewhat eerie. I highly recommend everyone try this – even though I knew it was random it was somewhat eye-opening and thought-provoking.
Opening Credits: Sick – Copper Blue
Waking Up: Viva – Tin Star
First Day of School: I Can’t Get Next To You – Annie Lennox
Falling in Love: Not Ready Yet – Eels
Losing Virginity: Don’t Cry Out – We Are Pilots
Fight Song: Breathe – Prodigy
Breaking Up: Dirty Harry – Gorillaz
Prom: The Biggest Fool In The World – Dusted
Life: Mental – Eels
Mental Breakdown: Raincheck – Tin Star
Driving: Halcyon – A State of Trance Vol. 2
Flashback: Silmarilla – Trance Global Nation
Getting Back Together: Don’t Say – Tin Star
Wedding: Smack My Bitch Up – The Prodigy
Birth of Child: (Da Le) Yaleo – Santana
Final Battle: Glamourous – Fergie feat. Ludacris
Death Scene: Gypsy – Armin van Buuren feat. Ray Wilson
Funeral Song: The Big Blue – Papua New Guinea
Just the titles are fairly interesting. I of course think I have impeccable taste in music, so I also recommend that you rush out and buy all these titles and listen to them. When you are done with that, you should take your own playlist for a spin and try this experiment!
Today’s daily prompt asks that we write about an oasis where we go to get away from it all when everything else is too much. I will say that there is no such place. I live a life where I go from work to my daughter’s school to home to work to my daughter’s school to home, with no stops for fun on the side. My husband and I spend some time together in the evenings watching shows on Netflix, but even that is scarcely an oasis.
If I have to describe a place I go to get away from it all, I must say that I go to sleep. Whenever I feel myself beginning to feel discouraged and overwhelmed (which is most of the time), if I don’t have any other pressing obligations, such as daughter’s homework or some task my husband has given me, I head straight for the bed and crawl under the covers. If I can manage to fall asleep so deeply that I have forgotten who and where I am, then the sleep has done its job. The down side is that I must wake up. When I wake up, my job and my life come crashing down on me so solidly that it was hardly worth going to sleep. I remember the job that I hate, the fact that I have no friends, the crushing routine from work to school to home, and I just want to cry. I am too tired to cry. For some reason, the tears never come. I just get up and soldier on and march from place to place to place. If I am lucky, it is evening and it will be time for me to go back to sleep soon.
Last night I didn’t even have the sanctity of my sleep oasis because I slept so poorly. I am on a new diet, and I felt queasy and could not get comfortable. My husband was also sleeping poorly, so he was tossing and turning in the bed and at one point resorted to playing a CD that is supposed to be self-hypnosis to aid an insomniac to go back to sleep. Self-hypnosis my ass. The only thing that CD does for me is annoy me so badly it keeps me awake. I almost moved to the other bedroom, but I was too tired to get up. Also, my phone rang about eleven o’clock last night regarding a patient I had in the hospital, which I had to answer, and which woke me right back up. And that wasn’t even one of my call nights.
So my “oasis” is shaky at best. It is a house of cards that can tumble down on me on any given night. And if I’m on call, there’s a very real chance that my sleep will be interrupted by phone calls all night long. I may even have to get up and go do a delivery or a surgery. Those nights I just write off as awful, and again I want to cry because of the reality of my existence and my stressful job. But I don’t cry. I just get up and go in and do my work. And then I am exhausted the next day, but I have to get up and go into work anyway.
So “oasis” is a joke. An oasis is for other people. Other people have friends they can go see, or they can have a drink (I don’t drink any more), or they can go shopping (I’m not allowed to shop any more) or they can go into a nearby town and see a show or go out to eat (I am tethered to work and family and my call schedule, and I’m on a diet, so going out is not really all that much fun any more). And I can go out alone or I can go out with the husband and daughter. That’s pretty much it. We do that occasionally, and when we do, that is fun. But most shows or clubs I want to attend either seem to happen during the day when I must work, or on a call day when I cannot get any farther away from the hospital than thirty minutes. Everything interesting happens in a town that is at least forty-five minutes away.
My town where I live is devoid of entertainment. Everyone is a cookie cutter of everyone else, and they are not me. I don’t have any friends because people either find me strange or I find them judgmental and boring. There are people I am friendly with, but that is not the same as being friends. I love jewelry making but the nearest group is an hour away. I love photography but there is no group here. I would like to exercise by taking yoga or some other classes, but all the classes are during the day for the Ladies Who Lunch and I have a job.
If it sounds like I am feeling sorry for myself, I do. I know that I have many things that others would love to have; a stable job, a loving family, a home that I can pay for. But I am lonely and busy, and we all know that our problems seem more magnified to us than they would to others. I do not like my job; it is like a living hell that I must get up and face each day, for reasons I cannot go into here. I am seriously considering changing my job, and that may be the thing that truly brings me out of my funk. I can only hope that that will be so. Until then, I am a dead woman walking, and the oasis is just out of reach.
I wasn’t so much hoping for a change with the blog as I was hoping for a clarification. All my life I’ve been convinced that I had at least one novel in me. I was hoping these little writings would bring the pieces of a novel into focus, and bring my life into focus with it. I had a pretty tumultuous adolescence, and a fair amount of upheaval in my young adult life. I was troubled, and rebellious, which sprung from my mundane childhood as a young prodigy and the belief that there had to be something out there that was wicked and more interesting. I longed for excitement. My parents were as safe and as bland as the Cleavers and I couldn’t believe anything they told me about bad things out in the world as they had obviously never experienced any of them. My mother was homecoming queen at her large state university, and my father was in law school. They met shortly after this and my mom married him not long out of college after teaching French and Spanish in a prestigious Colorado neighborhood. I was born when Mom was 23 and my dad was 32. From then on, my mom did her utmost to see that my performance in all areas of life was superlative. She taught me words with blocks before I was walking. I did multipiece jigsaws about the time I started to walk. I was her certified One Trick Pony all through my childhood, and I obediently leeped through my hoops and trotted and cantered in time to her light whip and hackneyed circus music.
When I hit adolescence, I began to question everything, including the need to bring home straight A’s. I felt that my grades singled me out for negative attention from my fellow students, and I began deliberately letting my grades slide to ward off their unwanted criticism. I got involved with a number of negative, destructive things which unfortunately persisted into young adulthood. When I finally got through all that, I was left with an “is that all there is?” feeling that haunted me through later years. A husband and child failed to fill the void and I have been stumbling through my life since then, going through the motions, waiting for something to happen that never comes.
I think I’m hoping that this blog will be a form of therapy. Although I’m afraid to put some of the truths of my life “out there” on the internet, I can feel my resistance breaking down as I read some of the things that have been shared by the community here. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to share too much, as I am a physician in a small town and some things I write may be held against me. I have made sure that no one in town (except my husband) is aware that I even have a blog. There are just some things that I don’t want to share with friends and acquaintances that I can share with absolute strangers. Paradoxically true. Even my husband being aware of the blog has had some repercussions – he has found some of the things I’ve shared to be things that I should have instead shared with him. Again, sometimes it’s easier to communicate with relative strangers.
I am digging into my past now to try to find some nuggets with humor or at least truth that I can share in this blog. And if I can make sense of where I’ve been, maybe I can figure out where I’m going.
My boyfriend at the time woke me early in the morning and told me to get up and dress warmly; he had a surprise for me. His friend Tom showed up and we crawled into my car. We went the back way, through beautiful winding roads and fall leaves. The two guys chattered excitedly on the way; I didn’t know about what. We finally wound up near Lookout Point in Chatanooga. We were taking hang gliding lessons. This did not thrill me. I have very little athletic ability and had heard that hang gliding was very dangerous. But I was unwilling to appear to be a spoilsport, or scared, so I agreed to try.
We spent an inordinate amount of time learning to strap ourselves up and into the gliders. There was a lot of talk about “safety” and we were given helmets to put on our heads. We were lectured about the mechanics of hang gliding and then were let to the “bunny hill” for beginners. We were to take a run and allow the glider to take us into the air. As the glider came down, we were supposed to “flare” so that we would wind up standing up to land. The instructor informed us that failing to do this would result in our becoming “human lawn darts.”
Somehow I was given the first turn. I ran down the hill but the wind failed to catch me. There was nothing to flare. The two guys took their turns. Nothing. It was my turn again. I took a run and a gust of wind caught me and lifted me right up. I went much higher than I expected. Then I was coming down, down, and the instructor was yelling at me to flare. I actually got my wits about me and flared, not wanting to be a human lawn dart. I landed on my feet. The guys tried a couple more times and then our lesson was over (thank God). They got lifted into the air a little bit but nothing like that one gust that I caught. I left relieved and intact.
It was only later that my boyfriend told me that he hadn’t realized how dangerous hang gliding was until that gust grabbed me and pulled me into the air. I can only say, thanks, bud, for dragging me along on an excursion that you had obviously not investigated in much depth.
I only learned many years later exactly how dangerous hang gliding is. I was an Ob/Gyn resident in New Orleans, and we had a staff member that had lived in a southwestern state where hang gliding is very popular. He told us he had cared from any number of para- and quadraplegics who had become so in hang gliding accidents. He said frequently, these women were early pregnant when they had their accidents, and some did not even realize they were pregnant. When labor came, because they were numb from the waist or neck down, they could not feel their own contractions to know that they were in labor. Instead, the contractions caused a rise in their blood pressure, which caused their heads to hurt. He told them to come into the hospital when their headaches (contractions) were five minutes apart. They had no other way of recognizing labor. I realized that that could have been me, had I failed to land correctly on the bunny slope and hit as a lawn dart, head first.
I have done sky diving, and scuba diving, and wind sailing, and all of these, while potentially dangerous, really don’t seem to hold a candle to the injuries possible even in very beginner hang gliding. I would not recommend against any of the above activities, although I am not sure I would do them again, but only the hang gliding would I tell someone else to “just say no.” I think the dangers inherent are just too great.
The picture above is supposed to be a perfectly round, stylized picture of a peppermint candy. It popped up when I transferred it to this blog, but it was subsequently replaced by the dreaded red X. I ran into this photo on Google Image search and was asked to write a post on what it made me think of. The answer is, my father and my daughter.
My father loves peppermint. He can buy an entire bag of Starlite mints and crunch them down, cheerfully reeking of peppermint and piling up wrappers. He has eaten peppermint since I can remember. He used to love going to restaurants where they had little mints in a dish at the checkout. He would mortify my mother by grabbing a handful and blissfully crunching them on the way out. When his heart went out of rhythm and they did the ablation procedure, they told him he couldn’t have peppermint anymore. Apparently peppermint can trigger heart arhythmias. Who knew? Since then he has cut back a lot, but I have caught him with the odd peppermint in hand. Apparently he can’t completely do without them. I will never be able to see or smell peppermint without thinking of my father.
This picture also reminds me of my daughter. I had a lot of games when I was little, but Candyland was not one of them. I think it was not intellectually challenging enough; a toddler’s game with pictures of squares on little cards to mark your travel along the board. I always wanted that game as it was bright and colorful and I loved candy and anything associated with it. My friends had it and when I was little, I loved to play it. So when my daughter was about three, we got her a Candyland game. She still loves to play it, and gloats when she gets a free ride through Gumdrop Pass, or when someone else gets bumped back to the beginning. I think it was perfectly appropriate for a three year old mind. I still wish I’d had one, but I can play it with her any time I want to. She is seven now, and she is playing SlapJack and Old Maid and Go Fish and having a blast with those. Her father has also gotten her No Stress Chess, and she is learning her way around the chess board. Her second grade at school has a chess club and he is hoping she will be included. But her old Candyland game has pictures of candies like the one above, and it always makes me think of that game and her.
me in a foxhole
to lift my head
i am dug in
i lack the strength
to dig me
out of a dark grave made
just for me
i cannot move or breathe
it all seems too
to take my eyes away
from the wall
at my feet
and tomorrow will
be the same
I read a writing challenge today and it stopped me short. “Take a complicated subject that you know a great deal about and explain it to a friend who knows nothing about it at all.” Here’s the thing: that’s my job. That’s my job description, in a nutshell. I am an Ob/Gyn and I deal with women’s reproductive health, which the average woman knows little about at all. Women don’t know where their female parts are, what they do, what they look like, and how they can fail. Most women aren’t even familiar with their external parts; they don’t know that the outside of their nether regions are called a vulva and not a vagina, which is internal. The vagina is the canal inside. The vulva are the parts outside, which are not called lips but labia. Show me a woman who knows this and I’ll show you a biology major. So I spend my days explaining everything. I explain what the body parts are called. I explain what they do. I explain what they look like. I explain compicated procedures, as I did in this blog post here. I’ll admit, that’s not even too helpful without visual aids.
Have you ever tried to explain how a baby passes through a dilated cervix, or how the cervix dilates? I explain it like this: you are putting on a turtleneck. Your head is the baby’s head and the turtleneck is your cervix. Imagine the hole in the turtleneck enlarging and the neck thinning to allow the head pass through. And there you have it. I have made up one of these little analogies for everything. You can also describe a grapefruit passing through the opening in a tube sock, and this is useful explaining how the opening of the cervix can be behind or in front of the head.
We can describe the pregnant uterus as a big light bulb with a blown up water balloon inside of it; the baby is in the balloon. Again, this is my life. It is my job description. Describing the mechanics of a physical situation, or describing the reasons behind a physical reaction are challenges that I hope I meet every day. I think I have come up with some good analogies over the years and hope to create many more.
How do you explain that cysts on ovaries are normal? First of all, a cyst is defined as a single layer of cells filled with fluid. A blister on your toe could be a cyst. It’s just the word “cyst” that frightens people. It’s not so frightening when you know what the definition is. Ovaries create cysts every month; it’s their job. An egg develops and it makes itself a nice little bubble filled with nutritive sugar water to support it. Over the month the little bubble (gasp, CYST – now hopefully demystified) works its way up to the surface of the ovary and pops, releasing the egg. So normal women of reproductive age make and release cysts every month. So the next time the Emergency Room sends you out with the explanation “It’s a cyst,” they’re just trying to give you a reason for your pain and get rid of you. That leaves your Ob/Gyn to deal with a panicky female: “Oh nooooo, I have a cyst!!” You have to talk them down out of their tree and explain that right now, I probably have a cyst too. That’s just how things work. Now this is not to say that a cyst can’t be abnormal; sometimes they are oversized, occupy space, and can cause pain. Sometimes they even twist on their skinny little stem of blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply and causing a torsion, which just means that the blood flow to the ovary or cyst is gone, which causes incredible pain and is a surgical emergency. So there can be bad cysts. You just need to understand the difference between the two. Cysts can also be abnormal if they have a solid component, which is not included in the definition of a cyst (remember, single layer of cells on the outside, fluid in the inside). Solid component means a cyst may be more likely to be precancerous or cancerous. That’s something that makes a difference. But come to me and tell me that you have a simple fluid cyst under six centimeters on your ovary, I will probably say, “Meh.”
I once had a patient ask me, “Do hysterectomies run in families?” I found this to be a very interesting question. After all, a hystorectomy is not a DNA linked trait. It is a procedure. The question kind of made me giggle. I had to explain that things that cause a need for hysterectomies, such as fibroids, can run in families, but the procedure itself? No.
A lot of things I can’t even answer, because nobody knows. Why do women get recurrent vaginal discharge? Rule out infection and I don’t know. If I knew, I could retire and buy an island. And I tell my patients just that. Why do women lose their sex drive? This is a huge problem, and there are so many potential answers that it is almost impossible to narrow down. And for women, there is no treatment. Viagra works in less than ten percent. We are just out of luck there. Occasionally medical problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure (or medications) can be a cause, but you can’t count on that.
So I explain what I can, and I fess up when I can’t, and between the two I think I’m giving patients a pretty fair shake. But the little analogies I’ve developed over time have come in handy over the years, time and time again. Like I said, it’s my job.