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Sometimes as a hospitalist my Mondays actually fall on Saturdays. While my two children, husband, two cats- even the one who yowls for food first thing- and the dog are still asleep I get dressed in the dark. Of course I wear my black sneakers with the thick gold stripe down the side to make myself feel more weekend-y. I drive to work flanked by ominous shadows that will later reveal themselves as buildings, trees, mountains. By the time I arrive at the hospital the dark isn’t as deep but the sun isn’t quite ready to make an appearance either.

The thing about my work is that I have no idea what’s waiting for me when I walk through the door. On this Saturday it is a happy baby with a new tumor, shocking reminders of how poverty makes children sick, horrific unexplained injuries, and of course, room after room of infants with respiratory distress who are going to get better pretty quick once they aren’t so overwhelmed with… boogers. Another physician makes an error and leaves the hospital so I, the physician in charge of the unit for the weekend have to apologize to a family I don’t know. The patient’s veteran nurse melts with relief when I come in the room. “Thank you so much,” she says over and over, tearing up.

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Doctor-Patient, Patient-Doctor

I recently had my 6 year cancerversary. Yes, that’s the big thing about me, I had colon cancer. Nothing in my medical training prepared me to be on the receiving end of a diagnosis.  I wrote about that moment the word cancer changed my life, published here in The Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine […]


It was a vicious day when I saw this sign on the board of a Unitarian Church:


Snow turned to ice turned to cold rain on my parade, or at least the free hour Andy and I had together while the girls released their inner monkeys in gymnastics class.  My mood matched the weather, vicious, but from sleep-deprivation, stress, and the continuous loop of my holiday to-do-list. Dr. Schweitzer’s quote made me laugh out loud, much to the chagrin of my dark mood which prior to that moment seemed to have a life of its own.

We’ll leave the cats aside right now because they’ll never know they’re not the center of this piece.  But, since yesterday was Christmas it is a fitting time to consider music. Even my college flute teacher who as far as I knew was an atheist, used to say that no matter how spare, religious music was incomparably inspired.  Back in those days I performed in a flute choir to start my College’s Christmas Vespers service. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols followed, opening with a clear voice both lilting and strong: “Once in royal David’s city…” Even today hearing the purity of that first phrase causes a lump in my chest to grow so large that it squeezes tears from my eyes.

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Farewell To Thee, My Pager

This was a momentous week for me. After 14 years of carrying a hospital-grade old-school text pager to receive messages at work (yeah, that’s still a thing with doctors), I finally traded it in for a cell phone app. It should have been easy to get rid of my beeper, but instead I felt waves of nostalgia when I turned it off for the last time. Those 240 character pre-Twitter, low-resolution LCD messages follow the arc of my medical career and tell its story.

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Full Circle

It seems to be a fitting time to revive Ginger Mouse. Almost to the day seven years ago I wrote the post Counterpoints, and waxed romantically about the geologic record contained in our soon-to-be stone countertops and the scores of pie crusts and chapatis to be rolled on them.  Well, today is Thanksgiving and I made a few pies to celebrate.  Here is how it actually went:

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Ginger Mouse is Back

Ginger Mouse is back after a six and a half year hiatus, now with a new name,! That last post I wrote at the end of February in 2011 was filled with possibilities: twin babies, a new house. There were some unexpected impossibilities, too, life-altering events that seemed as if they came from someone […]

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