Saturday, April 30, 2011

Extreme Home Makeover: Fire Department Style

Something really wonderful happened to one of the families in our unit.  As I've said before, we are a reserve unit so the soldiers all have civilian jobs. We live away from military bases, each other, and the Army lifestyle.  One of my husband's battle buddies ("M") is a firefighter and his wife ("J") is a teacher.  They are some of the nicest people you will ever meet.  She is now 7 months pregnant with their first child and will be giving birth while he is overseas.  We are all hoping they can arrange leave so that he can be home for the birth.  If not, they have it arranged with the hospital to Skype the birth.  This couple had big plans for much-needed home renovations before their little boy arrives.   Unfortunately, they did not have time to do everything they wanted before M left.

Thursday morning, J woke up to pouring rain.  She left her house and went to her job teaching 6th grade.  When she returned in the afternoon, she drove up to 30 firefighters surrounding her house.  Fortunately, there was no fire....they were stripping all the siding off her house!  The city firefighters had taken it upon themselves to get together on their time off and renovate M and J's house.  Dominoes Pizza and Home Depot showed up with donations and there were news crews everywhere!  The goal is to give M and J an entirely new house exterior in 10 days.  I believe they are even putting on a new roof.


It couldn't have happened to two more deserving people.  M probably won't be able to recognize his house when he comes back and that little baby boy is going to be living in style!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Excuse Me, Mr. Trump....

Today was a very unimportant day in politics.  President Obama released his birth certificate thereby proving that he is, in fact, a natural born citizen of the United States.  Clearly, this is the biggest issue in this country and I'm so happy it was straightened out.

We can all thank Donald Trump for accomplishing such a monumental feat: 

Following the White House's release of the long-form certificate, Trump told reporters in New Hampshire that he is "very proud" of himself for helping to bring the release of the document.

"I've accomplished something nobody else was able to accomplish," Trump said. "I'd want to look at (the birth certificate), but I hope it's true so that we can get on to much more important matters."

- CNN, 4/27/2011

I think I know the more important matters to which Mr. Trump is referring:



Mr. Trump, can we please see the birth certificate for your toupee?  If you insist that your hair is a natural born citizen, please show me a certificate of authenticity. 

There must be an amendment in the Constitution that excludes presidential candidacy based upon outrageously bad hair, right?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

She's My Therapy Dog

Since I have a lot of free time right now, I took a trip to visit my parents.  This involves a lot of time hanging out in the country, watching movies, eating food, and being surrounded by the world's best dogs.  Libby loves going to my parents' house and hanging out with her canine cousins, Chelsea and Medford.  They play outside, go on walks, dig in the garden together, and smother all the homosapiens with an abundance of kisses.

L to R: Medford butt, Libby butt, Chelsea butt

My parents' chocolate lab, Chelsea, is one of a kind.  She is an old lady but she is the sweetest and most gentle dog.  For the past 9 years, she has been a registered pet therapy dog and my mother takes her into a local assisted living facility to visit with the elderly residents.  They all absolutely adore her and look forward to her visits.

Since Libby is, in my opinion, the most wonderful dog to ever walk the face of the earth, my mom and I decided to take her to the assisted living too.  The staff members at the facility are pretty laid-back so they didn't mind that Libby isn't a registered therapy dog.  We got the girls all beautified and ready for their visit:

Chelsea ready to do her job
Miss Libby all dressed up

Instead of a bandana, Medford got a bone and he stayed home.  While he is an incredibly loving and sweet boy, Medford is a little too fearful of all the sounds in the assisted living.

For her first time, Libby did great.  We walked into a large room with approximately 20 residents sitting in a circle.  This was overwhelming for Libby and she seemed a little bit nervous.  Over time, however, she seemed to relax.  She let lots of ladies and gentlemen pet her, she got on a couch with someone, and she sat on one woman's lap.  Of course Chelsea was a professional and went from person to person giving her love and affection. 

Because we live a couple hours from my parents and my life will be getting busier, Libby and I may not have the opportunity to return to the assisted living.  We certainly won't have the time to get her registered as an official pet therapy dog.  That's okay though.  In reality, Libby doesn't need that piece of paper or that dog tag that says she is a therapy dog.  She is the ultimate therapy dog  - she's my battle buddy and she takes the job very seriously.

Libby is my therapy dog. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'll Always Be a Student

The sun shone on my face as I walked away from the hospital.  It was a cool day but the sun felt warm and comforting.  I looked back at the enormous building, smiled, and said a soft "farewell." 

So much happened at that place.  

I studied countless hours of biochemistry, immunology, and physiology. 
I meticulously worked with my anatomy cadaver to reveal the intricacies of the human body.
I drank coffee.
Lots of coffee.
I studied 16 hours a day for a month to prepare for a single exam. 
I hit the snooze button at 3:45 am.
Sometimes I never saw the light of day.
I made decisions that were right and I made others that were very wrong.
There were tears shed for dying patients and celebrations for babies born.
I watched 6 surgeons struggle for hours to save a man's life and ultimately succeed.
I helped families decide on hospice care and I watched as they said goodbye.
I touched the faces of 2 pound babies fighting for every breath. 
I made children giggle hysterically through office visits. 
I saw sheer joy as women heard their babies' heartbeats for the first time and I witnessed intense mourning when they did not. 
I watched patients hit rock bottom on chemotherapy and I saw them smiling when they were cancer-free.
I learned about resilience and strength from patients who were not able to even tell me their stories.
Children with horrible genetic diseases showed me how to appreciate the little things.
I listened to a 27-year-old scream in pain every morning from her invasive cervical cancer.  She was on enough pain medication to sedate an elephant and yet she still screamed.
Elderly women held my hand and reassured me that I would succeed.
Elderly men held my hand and told me I was beautiful (and other less tactful variations.)
I treated gang members, murderers, drug addicts, sex workers, and homeless schizophrenics. 
In the same day, I treated philanthropists, teachers, social workers, and diplomats.
I learned something from every single patient that I came across and I wish I could thank them all.

Twenty-five years ago, I walked into early Kindergarten.  This Friday I walked away from my last day as a medical student.   The next phase in my career will bring countless new experiences, some of which will be wonderful and some heartbreaking.  Regardless, I know that they will all teach me something important.

I may not be a student but I will always keep learning.

Friday, April 15, 2011

AOL's Military Job Week

Take a look at this video from Michelle Obama and Jill Biden:

I was recently contacted by AOL's social media team and asked if I would help spread the word about their current promotion for Military Job Week.

This week AOL is teaming up with the White House to show love and support of our troops and their families and encouraging those who have loved ones in the military to show their love through their Badges page.

For every support badge that is shared through Facebook or Twitter, AOL will donate to Hire Heroes USA.  This is an organization that offers assistance to veterans and their families in order to seek jobs upon their return home.

Please show your love today!  Get your badge at:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strong Because Of You.

I'm strong because of you, my friends.
I'm strong because of your calls and messages.
I'm strong because you bring me cupcakes just to cheer me up.
I'm strong because you visit.
You ask me to get pancakes.
You invite me to brunch.
You sit with me, drink wine, and watch movies.
It makes me stronger when I feel so weak.

I'm strong because of you, my friends.
I'm strong because you ask me if I want to take a walk. 
You pretend you really need one
But I know it's for me.
We get outside in the fresh air.
We walk through the fields and through the trees.
I'm stronger because of it.

I'm strong because of you, my friends.
I'm strong because you distract me from my thoughts.
You allow me to forget the loneliness.
You know I don't want to talk about it.
So we don't.
That makes me stronger.

In the quiet of solitude
I don't feel strong at all.
But because of you, my friends
I'm strong.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Story of Us

It was the winter of 2004.

At the time, I was going to school and working as an EMT at a private ambulance company.  I arrived for my shift and looked at the crew assignments for the day.  There was a name I didn't recognize.

I turned to my friend and questioned, "Who is [this]?"
Having worked there longer, she responded, "Oh, he just got back from Iraq. He is [the boss'] son."

And that was the first time I heard about my future husband.

We met that day and the flirting began almost instantly.   I thought he was sexy, funny, and mysterious.  It didn't really matter to me that his father was technically one of my bosses.  Perhaps it should have but I barely thought twice about it.  We purposely sat next to each other while hanging out in the base.  He let me start an IV on his arm.  I stole his hat like a giddy school girl and I may have even threatened to use the pacemaker pads on his chest (I was smoooooth, I know).

This continued for a few weeks and everyone noticed our disgustingly nauseating displays of admiration.  I told my friends that I liked him but I needed "a forum" in which to make my move.  It was never going to happen in the workplace.

Then came the company holiday party.

My friends and I beautified ourselves in the hotel room and made our way down to the reception. As I got to the top of the steps, I looked down, and saw him standing there at the bottom.  He looked at me, I looked at him, and well...the rest is history.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Parting Gift

Do you want to take my Froggy with you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Hardest Day

I sit here in front of my computer trying to write about something that there are no words to describe.

I can tell you about the weekend.  I can tell you that we laughed together, cried together, and hugged more tightly than we have ever hugged before.  I can tell you that I shed more tears than I ever have and that we said "I love you" enough times to fill a novel. 

But I just can't describe it.

The emotional response to saying goodbye to your husband as he leaves to go to war is truly unimaginable. 

I have never felt such panic, such fear, and such loneliness in my life.  As I watched the hotel lobby doors close behind him, I wanted to jump out of my car and run back inside.  I wanted to scream to him not to go.  I wanted to drag him out, drive off into the horizon together, and never look back. 

But I didn't.  I turned the car keys, took a deep breath, and I drove away.  Alone.

I had been thinking about this day for months - imagining what it would be like and how I would react.  I had wondered whether I would be okay and whether I would be as strong as I hoped.  Well, the months turned into weeks and the weeks turned into days and then all of a sudden the moment was upon us. 

We said our goodbye and it broke my heart.  But as I drove away, I felt relief.  The day had finally passed and the journey had begun.

I went home and I re-read the wedding vows that he said to me on a wonderful October day:

In Yiddish it translates to "geyn mit mir."
In Gaelic it's "shool lih-um."
In the very beginning I asked you to walk with me.
I had no idea where that walk would take us.
Our walk isn't always easy. Sometimes we trip, and sometimes we stumble.
There are times when there is great distance between us, but that only brings us closer together.
Many days it might seem like an uphill climb, and I might need a little extra help.
I want you to be the One to give me that push.
Some days you might need a little extra support. 
I want to be your crutch. 
Failing that, I will carry you.
I still don't know where this walk will take us.
All I ask is that you walk with me.

This deployment will just be one small stretch of our walk together. 

A wise man (my husband) once said, "This is tough, but we are tougher."

We will be stronger for this.

We will make it.

We will be okay.